Is the 1% Really the Problem?
by Lynn Paramour (via Alternet)
Is the 1% Really the Problem?
“We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan, but is it distracting our attention from a sinister reality? There’s strong evidence that it’s not the 1 percent you should worry about—it’s the 0.1 percent. That decimal point makes a big difference.
The 99 percent would do well to find common ground with bulk of the 1 percent if we can, because we are going to need each other to tackle this mounting threat from above.
To make it into the 1 percent, you need to have, according to some estimates, at least about $350,000 a year in income, or around $8 million accumulated in wealth. At the lower end of the 1 percent spectrum, the “lower-uppers,” as they have been called, you’ll find people like successful doctors, accountants, engineers, lawyers, vice-presidents of companies, and well-paid media figures.
Some lower-uppers are beginning to realize that their natural allies are not those above them on the economic ladder. They are getting the sense that the 0.1 percent is its own hyper-elite club, and lower-uppers are not invited to the party.
I’ve been thinking and saying much the same thing for a while now. It occurs to me that some group of income earners are supporting the government through taxation and it isn’t those at the very tiny sliver that is the 0.01%. Earn between $350,000 and $750,000 and you probably find yourself wondering just who is it that is benefiting from the tax codes as they are written. Some portion of that kind of income may be from qualified dividends, but most is probably from income that is difficult to protect, if that’s the right word, from taxation. So that 0.09% does have more in common with the 99% in that regard than it does with the 0.01%, for whom the tax codes seem to be written.
It has been interesting to watch this process. At one point, it was possible to argue that the US economy was operating to the benefit of most Americans. There were blacks, hispanics, many women, immigrants and others for whom the economy did not provide much beyond a day to day living if that. Otherwise, the dividing benefit line was relatively low.
As wages stagnated, this line moved upwards. With the fall of manufacturing, union busting and rising automation, the line moved roughly between the old working class (non-exempt) and the business class (exempt). This rise continued as the lower end of the business class, as they called those paid salaries rather than by the hour, started to lose out. Soon, it was hard to argue that anyone who did any productive work at any level, as opposed to simply exploiting the benefits of ownership or position, was getting a proper share of society’s output.
I’m guessing you can be making $1M a year nowadays and find yourself on the wrong side of the line. If you are actually expected to produce anything, you are at a disadvantage in the work place as you are considered a cost and as such to be squeezed. If you are in upper management, however, you are currently excluded from these pressures by virtue of class membership. That is, you and those on the board have a level of class solidarity, but it isn’t even clear that this will hold.
Maybe it’s time for a rerelease of The Rich and the Super-Rich. It was a best seller, and quite prophetic, back in the 60s.
There are 6 corporations and 6 banks and 66 billionaires in the world that control 99% of the worlds wealth. They pay people who pay people who pay people to do their dirty work for them so they do not have to get their hands dirty. This insures their insulation at the top of the new world order. This is what the election is all about, power and control.