You Are Already the 1 Percent

by iam1percent on March 12, 2012 · 28 comments

Really, you are! Yes…you! Perspective is everything, and if you are currently making more than $34,000 USD, you are in the 1% of income earners in the world. The Occupy Wall Street movement takes aim at the top 1% of income earners in America, but when you expand that message globally, many of the occupiers are ironically part of the 1 percent themselves.  That doesn’t mean that someone making $34,000 is not struggling.  No one’s hardship should be minimized and losing a home or being unemployed certainly strikes to the heart of one’s being.  However, to tailor their message down to a blanket statement of all 1% of income earners in America is disingenuous.

According to The World Bank, 95% of the people living in developing countries live on less than $10 a day. If the occupiers truly believe that the wealth of 1 person is at the expense of someone else, then they should look in the mirror and see that their wealth has reduced the wealth of people across the globe. I, however, don’t subscribe to that theory.

But the statistics are truly staggering. This means that people in America who we consider poor, are actually very well off compared to the rest of the world. Ninety-nine (99) percent of the poor in America have running water, electricity, flush toilets, and a refrigerator, 95% have a television, 88% have a telephone, 71% have a car, and 70% have air conditioning…luxuries that most of the world cannot afford.

So what does this all mean?

While I sympathize and agree with the occupiers’ message around corruption between Wall Street, corporations, and politicians, I don’t believe that the message should tear down classes in America. Yes, there are individuals who attained wealth through bailouts and back-room deals. If they want to call out specific banks, institutions, and politicians, be my guest, but I can’t sit idly if their message is based on a false premise.

Additionally, their message is around opportunity, but think about the income opportunity by being born in America. All people born in a rich country already have an advantage compared to someone born in an impoverished country. There are few better places to be born than America, even if you end up poor in America.  If there is inequality in opportunity, those born in America are the ones with the unfair advantage.

The bottom-line with this post is to say that there is always someone poorer than you.  There is always someone worse off than you.  I have always subscribed to this philosophy, and do my best not to complain much about anything.  That doesn’t mean I don’t stand up to my principals, morals, and to injustices, but I don’t disparage Bill Gates who made billions from the computer that I’m typing on.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle March 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Very enlightening! There’s a calculator online where you can calculate your percent and I was below 1%, which amazed me at first, but of course it counts everyone in the world (well the stats are as true as they can possibly be).
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iam1percent March 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Dollar D just posted the calculator website….I’m in the top 0.001%
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Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple March 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Check out this site to calculate your own position among global wealth.
http://www.globalrichlist.com/

I try to remember at all times how freakin’ lucky I am and all of the luxuries I enjoy, despite not being “rich” by American standards. Just being born in America, or any other rich country, is a huge gift, and it’s one that people so easily take for granted.
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iam1percent March 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I’ve used that calculator before…using my wife and my income combined, we’re in the top 0.001%.
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Jana @ Daily Money Shot March 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

This is a topic that is sure to hit on some nerves!

I think you make some good points, I really do. Having been in some of those “poor homes”, it’s hard not to notice the cell phones and TVs and the like. Most of them are not without electricity or running water, and have their basic needs met (how they get them met is a whole different discussion). But I struggle with the comparison between poor in America and living in a developing country. There are just too many differences.
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iam1percent March 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Hey Jana, I realize that this post will generate some dialogue…controversal to say the least, but I’m interested hearing all perspectives. I agree, there are too many variables to make an apples to apples comparison of the poor in America versus a developing country.

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Nick March 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

The way I see it is that it’s the attitude of the 99%ers that keeps them from rising to the 1%. They have an “it’s your fault” attitude and fail to recognize that the iPhone from which they tweet their message could have been an extra credit card payment that they could have made to get out from under any mess they created… I better stop now… I’m a big fan of the capitalism but nothing gets me more worked up than someone w/ a sense of entitlement (especially when they feel entitled to other people’s stuff…) The 1%, for the most part, worked hard for their money. They’re not all trust fund babies and lottery winners. Ok, I’ll stop… now! :)
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iam1percent March 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm

LOL…better that you quit while you were ahead…but I agree with your comments!

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Poor to Rich a Day at a Time March 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm

This can be a hard one for me to be honest and I myself have written an article or two on modern poverty in America. While I agree many feel entitled to be able to recieve things they are not theres, I will also say there are those who actually need the government aide and medical or they would of died long ago. I have seen firsthand what the government can do to someone when all the “cutbacks” occur. My mother gets hit hard everytime a round of cutbacks happen, now she is expected to pay for what medicaid will not pay anymore which for last month alone was half her income. Also to get approved for certain medical procedures she has to jump through hoops or go to “special” out of the way facilities or they won’t cover it. The latest being she needs certain shots as her body quit absorbing the vitamin D which allows her to absorb the calium, the outcome will be a broken back if they can not find a way to get her body to absorb these vitamins.

At the same time, she has a huge resentment towards big corporations and corporate greed taking from the poor……… I grew up with that mentality along with a church preaching not to envy the rich, the rich are greedy and basically evil in their ways.

It took a lot of work for me to want to work towards wealth and not to look at the rich as these horrid people( it did not help that the few I met with a lot of money are horrid and greedy , judgemental and just plain MEAN)

We only make $14,000 a year so we are NOT in the 1% even by a worldly calculator. Yet I look around and see how very blessed we are, a house, video games, food, electricity…and even eating out from time to time. We are very rich compared to a third world poor country and I am mindful of that everyday.

I get people all the time telling me to get on food stamps and what have you but why? I do not feel the government owes me this hand out, we are doing fine and daily working towards improvement. I also am capable of working but homeschooling is more important to me and we find we actually always do better financially when I am not working and am home to make everything from scratch and give time to being frugal while trying to increase income from a home base.

People tell us all the time we are poor but I never feel that way, my husband is my best friggin friend, I homeschool and get to spend every minute with my kids, we laugh all day long and well I could go on and on, we are blessed and one day?

We will be in the top 1%
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iam1percent March 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story! This goes to show you that wealth is not defined by what is in your bank account, but by your happiness. I will be posting something along these lines on Sunday, so keep an eye out. You are truly blessed with the riches of family and friends!

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Julie @ Freedom 48 March 13, 2012 at 12:39 am

That makes us feel good no matter where we stand financially!
However… things tend to be so much cheaper in other countries as well.
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Money Infant March 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

While Thailand is considered one of those “things are so much cheaper” countries I can assure you that it is not as cheap as many would have you believe. If you want air conditioning (it is wayyy hot here) expect to pay more than you would in the US. Want a car? Expect to pay 50% more than in the US. Like your wine, ribeye steak, toys for your baby, cherries, apples and peaches…100% markup over the US. Of course housing is affordable, if you are willing to live like a Thai, which I assure you is quite different from the 2300 sq foot home in the US. To have the standard of living that those in the US have requires quite a bit of money here, however with a national yearly income of $4800 most Thais do without and live the same way their parents and grandparents lived…no air con, small houses/apartments, cheap foods (rice of course, organs, cheap vegetables) and often no hot or running water. Electric is now fairly ubiquitous though so there’s something for you. Yes, $4800/yr goes farther here than it would in the US, but no one on that salary is living the life of Riley. And the government does not hand out food stamps, welfare, electric credits, housing assistance, cell phone minutes or anything else.
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iam1percent March 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Interesting perspective…do you live there now?

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Money Infant March 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Yes we have been here for almost a year now. Quite a change from the cold winters of the NE US.
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cashflowmantra March 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

Amazing what a different perspective can bring. Unfortunately, I doubt that the 99% protesters will see it from any other perspective but their own.
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KYD March 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Rich+Beggar = America…

Jake, I have seen many guys, they own a car but there is no money for fuel… Lolz
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MyCanadianFinances March 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm

It is truly something amazing to see how (even though we complain) wealthy we ALL are compared to those in other countries. And we still manage to take everything for granted.
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Kari@Small Budget Big Dreams March 14, 2012 at 5:36 am

I may not be in the 1% that occupy wallstreet is protesting, but I do feel very fortunate to have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and access to good healthcare. I work with homeless women (right here in the US-NYC) who didn’t have any of those things before ending up at my shelter. Each day I’m thankful for what I have and what I can give to others.
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iam1percent March 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Wealth is not defined by what is in your bank account…its how happy you are in life.

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lora kathleen March 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Just want to say I appreciate the post… being poor in America is very different than being poor in a developing country for sure.

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Roberto March 23, 2012 at 2:59 am

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GNIPC.pdf

Just to give you the facts, the average income per capita “world is Just over 11,000 dollars average per person. India and China make up about 3 billion people or rough 3/8 of the world population. US is just over 38 K China is at an average of $4,260 per worker and India is at $1.240 per worker. This guy has to get the facts straight.

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iam1percent March 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

What facts are wrong? You’re presenting average annual income data for the world which normalizes the bell curve that is at the crux of the argument that the US is part of the 1 percent. Addiitonally, what does China and India’s average annual income have to do with anything? It still doesn’t change the fact that most of them live on less then $10 a day (365 days a year x $10 = $3,650).
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