Understanding The One Percent



As the country fought through the recession in the 2000s, a bright light was shined on a group which Americans have named the 1 percent. A large amount of controversy has been created revolving around this group of financial leaders, and the majority of Americans are fighting back against them. Are these “99 percent” fighting the right fight? And, do they even know who make up the top 1 percent?

Taken literally, the top 1 percent of Americans takes home a minimum income of $516,633. This number includes all incomes, investments, and capital gains. This enormous wealth leads the top 1 percent to collect 19.3% of all household income in 2012. This figure is the largest it has been in over a century since the Great Depression. Secondly, they also maintain 42% of the nation’s financial value, while the bottom 80% maintains only 8%.

So how did this great separation happen? In the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, the richest Americans recorded the largest loss of finances of up to 36 percent, while the bottom 99 percent fell only 11.6 percent. Just like in the Great Depression, the top 1 percent had assets in corporate and stock profits, and received 95% of all the income gains. The profits continue to increase as the top 1 percent carry on to report a nearly 20% increase in income in 2012, while the remaining 99 percent only increased 1%.

Who are these financial moguls? Most Americans imagine the top 1 percent as old, financial entrepreneurs, sitting around a massive conference table, smoking cigars, and reveling in their own personal wealth created at the loss of the American people. The truth is, the majority of the top 1 percent have nothing to do with Wall Street. The financial leaders of the top 1 percent are as follows.

1. Executives, managers, supervisors (non-finance) : 31.0%
2. Medical Professionals: 15.7%
3. Financial Professions: 13.9%
4. Lawyers: 8.4%

The remaining professions in the top 1 percent have less than a 5% majority.

So why is there so much animosity between the average American, and the top 1 percent? The bottom 99 percent of Americans have been pushing the movement of “Occupy Wall Street” for years now. The largest reason is due to the belief that these financial leaders have been using immoral loopholes to avoid paying for the profits, while the bottom 99 percent continue to do so. For example, the financial professionals will claim that their hedge fund’s profits are not considered income due to the fact they are created out of interest. By doing so, they avoid paying the larger income tax rates and roll the profits to the lower corporate tax.

According to power elite theory the power of the 1 percent reaches from the public and into the depths of the government. While most of the 1 percent doesn’t work on Wall Street, they still possess over 50% of the country’s stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The 1 percent continues to close their grips around congress to enforce the lowering of corporate taxes in an effort to increase their profits.

How much are the 1 percent worth? Most Americans know who the ultra-rich are.

1. Bill Gates : $72 billion sourced from Microsoft
2. Warren Buffet: $58.5 billion sourced from Berkshire Hathaway
3. Larry Ellison: $41 billion sourced from Oracle
4. The Koch brothers: $72 billion combined sources diversified
5. The Walton Family: $136 billion combined sourced from Wal-Mart

These Americans are the highest valued net worth. However, there are 3.18 million people totaling up the 1 percent. If spread evenly, each person in the 1 percent is worth approximately $8.4 million, 69 times the average American household of $121,000.

Here is a documentary made about kids from one percent families.


It is common for people to think that the one percent of the rich rule the United States. In reality they don't. The most important people who make up the real American power elite work in and out of government in both the corporate world and the Washington bureaucracy in what political scientists call an iron triangle. There are only about 10,000 of these people. They are the true managers of the United States and some now describe the United States as a form of "inverted totalitarianism" in which they rule through mass propaganda.




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