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Who Are The Top 1%?

October 19, 2011

The movement that began as Occupy Wall Street in New York has spread to other cities across America as well as countries. In Italy, the Occupiers instigated a riot in Rome, torching cars and smashing windows, which required armed police to be brought in.

In the name of equity, the Occupiers say they are the 99% opposed to the top 1%, the filthy rich. So who are America’s Top 1%?

To begin, we need to define “income” vs. “wealth or net worth.”

Income is what people earn — from salaries, wages, dividends, interest, royalties, and rents from properties they own. U.C. Santa Cruz Sociology Professor William Domhoff claims that most of the income of “the rich” does not come from “working”: In 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries.

Wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns in marketable assets (such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, but not including cars and household items), minus any debts or liabilities (such as home mortgages, credit card debts and auto loans). In effect, wealth is assets minus debts, or W = A-D. That is why a better term for “wealth” is “net worth.”

High income (HI) may or may not mean great wealth because a high-income person or household may simply spend everything they make — and more, by going into debt. At the same time, an individual or household with moderate or even low income (MI/LI) may actually become wealthy by being frugal and investing their savings wisely.

Thus, HI ≠ W; whereas it is highly possible that MI/LI = W. Remember that when you decide to condemn “the wealthy.”

Wikipedia says the current per capita (per person) median income in the United States is roughly $32,000 (for those employed full-time between the ages of 25 and 64, it’s $39,000). By “median” income is meant that the figure $32,000 divides the American population into two equal halves — half (50%) of Americans make more than $32,000, and the other half make less than $32,000.

The U.S. Census Bureau offers income data by household and individual. 42% of U.S. households have two income earners; thus making households’ income levels higher than personal income levels. According to a 2008 article on the investment website My Budget 360, the median U.S. household income was $46,326. Dual earner households had a higher median income at $67,348.

Currently marketing corporations and investment houses classify those with household incomes exceeding $75,000 as “mass affluent,” while sociologistLeonard Beeghley identifies all those with a net worth of $1 million or more as “rich.” The upper class is most commonly defined as the top 1% with household incomes commonly exceeding $250,000 annually.


Income in America (source: Wikipedia)

In a recent Census report there are 110 million households in the United States.Here’s the distribution of U.S. households’ income in 2006:

  • Top third (34.73%) of households had annual gross income of $65,000or more.
  • Top quarter (25.60%) of households had annual gross income of$80,000 or more.
  • Top quintile (20%) of households had annual gross income of $91,202or more.
  • Top 15% (17.80%) of households had annual gross income of $100,000or more.
  • Top 10% of households had annual gross income of $118,200 or more.
  • Top 5% of households (3/4s of whom had 2 income earners) had annual gross income of $166,200 or more.
  • Top 3% (2.67%) had annual gross income of $200,000 or more.
  • Top 1.5% had annual gross income of $250,000 or more.
  • Top 0.1% (0.12% or 146,000 households) had annual gross income of$1,600,000 or more.

The 2008 article on My Budget 360 further breaks down that Top 0.1%. At its apex are:

  • The top 0.01% (11,000 households) with annual incomes of $5.5 million or more.
  • The top 400 highest tax payers in America had annual incomes of $87 million or more.

Notice how the incomes gradually go up from the Top Third’s $65,000 to the Top 1.5%’s $250,000, but between the Top 1.5%’s $250,000 and the Top 0.1%’s $1.6 million) is a huge gap of $1.35 million!

While households in the top 1.5% of households had incomes exceeding $250,000, 443% above the national median, their incomes were still 2200% lower than those of the top 0.01% of households. One can therefore conclude that almost any household, even those with incomes of $250,000 annually are poor when compared to the top 0.1%, who in turn are poor compared to the top 0.000267%, the top 400 taxpaying households.

According to the Federal Reserve Boardhere’s the distribution of U.S. households’ networths in 2001:

  • 6.9% of U.S. households had a negative networth of <$0 (i.e., those who not only have zero assets but are in debt).
  • 5.4% of households had a networth of $0-$999.
  • 2.4% of households had a networth of $1,000-$2,499.
  • 3.5% of households had a networth of $2,500-$4,999.
  • 4.7% of households had a networth of $5,000-$9,999.
  • 8.1% of households had a networth of $10,000-$24,999.
  • 9.2% of households had a networth of $25,000-$49,999.
  • 12.8% of households had a networth of $50,000-$99,999.
  • 19.2% of households had a networth of $100,000-$249,999.
  • 13% of households had a networth of $250,000-$499,999.
  • 7.8% of households had a networth of $500,000-$999,999.
  • 7% of households had a networth of $1 million or more.

Alas, the Federal Reserve Board did not break that top 7% down, so we don’t know what’s the networth of the Top 1% of U.S. households, other than that the Top 1% own 32.7% of Americans’ total networth in 2001. In contrast, 50% of U.S. households own just 2.8% of Americans’ total networth.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the above distribution of U.S. households’ networths:

  • 58% of households with negative networth were young, i.e., under 35 years old (which makes sense because many college students are poor).
  • Those with negative networth are more likely to have a less-than-high-school education.
  • Among those with negative networth, the percentage who are unemployed (but not retired) is more than twice they are in the larger population.
  • Households with negative networth are concentrated in the South and in the West.
  • 10.1% of households with networth of $1 million or more are Boomers (aged 46-55).
  • 28.2% of the Top 1% households in networth are Boomers.

The Top 1%

Leonard Beeghley called the top 0.9% the “Super Rich”, whom he described as “Multi-millionaires whose incomes commonly exceed $350,000; includes celebrities and powerful executives/politicians.” The OWS Movement say they are against the Top 1%. Here are some members of the Top 1% who are or should be targets:

Barack Obama: (supports OWS)

  • Annual POTUS salary (not total income): $400,000
  • Net worth in 2010: $10.5 million

The 25 richest members of Congress (in Roll Call’s 2009 annual survey that gives only their estimated net worth. Under federal law, members of Congress must disclose their personal investments and liabilities, but only in broad categories, thereby shielding the exact value of any asset or debt):

  1. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass): $188.37 million
  2. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca): $160.05 million
  3. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Ca): $152.62 million
  4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va): $81.50 million
  5. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas): $73.75 million
  6. Sen. Mark Warner (D- W.Va): $70.19 million
  7. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo): $56.49 million
  8. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla): 55.47 million
  9. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): $49.70 million
  10. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca): $46.07 million
  11. Sen. Alan Grayson (D-Fla): $31.41 million
  12. Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM): $25.52 million
  13. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca): $21.74 million (supports OWS)
  14. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NY): $19.90 million
  15. Sen. James Riche (R-Idaho) : $19.69 million
  16. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Ca): $19.37 million
  17. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tx): $18.41 million
  18. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn): $18.21 million
  19. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo): $15.73 million
  20. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): $14.90 million
  21. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine): $12.52 million
  22. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn): $12.12 million
  23. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont): $10.90 million
  24. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): $10.52 million
  25. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): $10.45 million

Non-elected political figures:

The Media:

Celebrities who’ve spoken out in support of Occupy Wall Street:

  • Yoko Ono: $500 million
  • Russell Simmons: $325 million
  • Roseanne Barr: $80 million
  • Deepak Chopra: $80 million
  • Kanye West: $70 million
  • Alec Baldwin: $65 million
  • Susan Sarandon: $50 million
  • Tim Robbins: $50 million
  • Michael Moore: $50 million

Here are the networths of some of the Super-Rich, the Top 0.01% (from Forbes’ richest 400 in America list):

  1. Steve Jobs: $8.3 Billion
  2. Carl Icahn (leveraged buyouts): $12 Billion
  3. Sergey Brin (Google): $15.9 Billion
  4. Charles Koch (manufacturing, energy): $19 Billion
  5. Michael Bloomberg (NY mayor): $20 Billion
  6. George Soros: $22 Billion
  7. Jim Walton (of Wal-Mart): $23.4 Billion
  8. Lawrence Ellison (of Oracle): $27 Billion
  9. Warren Buffet: $50 Billion
  10. Bill Gates (Microsoft): $57 Billion

The Occupy protesters reportedly are armed with iPhones and laptops and are active in social media — the very gadgets and communications technology invented by Jobs, Brin, Ellison, and Gates. Reportedly, Soros is funding the Occupy movement.

Will irony ever end?

By the way, raging socialist and President-for-life of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has an estimated networth of $1 Billion (!) — the same as Prince Albert II of Monaco. Another raging socialist, Fidel Castro of Cuba, has an estimated networth of $900 million.

Adios for now. See you at the Revolution!

Source: Fellowship of the Minds


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