The 99% and 1% distinction currently deployed by the escalating Occupy Wall Street demonstrations
offers a compelling and easily understood concept that has the makings to gain considerable traction.
First, let's note that the 99% and the 1% can refer to two separate financial measures, wealth and income. One could argue that the two are so closely related that either measure points to the same realities.
Starting with income distribution, to get straight with some of the figures, the Wealth and Want
Website has sound statistics regarding the facts of income distribution in the United States including links to additional references allowing one to dive as deep as desired into the data.
As they list there, summarizing for the key 8 groups:
P0-89 (bottom 90%)
9/10 households — income below $104,696
P90-100 (top 10%)
1/10 households — income above $104,696
P90-95 (next 5%)
1/20 households — income between $104,696 and $148,423
P95-99 (next 4%)
4/100 households — income between $148,423 and $382,593
P99-100 (top 1%)
1/100 households — income above $382,593
P99.5-100 (top 0.5%)
1/200 households — income above $597,584
P99.9-100 (top 0.1%)
1/1,000 households — income above $1,898,200
P99.99-100 (top .01%)
1/10,000 households — income above $10,659,283
Putting the above into some simple sentences, you are in the 1% club for income if you gross over $382,593 per year in 2006 dollars, or $430,000 in 2011 dollars.
Make less than $430,000 / year, and you are in the 99% group.
When examining wealth, the inequality is far worse, with the richest 20% owning over 4/5 (84%) of EVERYTHING. The richest 1% own almost half the country, and we wonder why they control everything, including our media, and virtually run the country to serve their own interests.
One of the ways they do this is to dramatically understate and effectively obfuscate the reality of poverty and its existence in the United States. The national psyche simply does not get how poor we are. Andrew Price at Good Politics wrote Americans Are Horribly Misinformed About Who Has Money
Helping illuminate the situation is an excellent paper, Building a Better America One Quintile at a Time
], by Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School) and Dan Ariely (Duke University).
Price in his post notes that the nation is becoming a a plutocracy.
We're already there.