In which a former intern does me proud.
But the thing is, she’s probably NOT the 1%.
Being the 1% doesn’t mean you’re employed, or that you’re not completely underwater in debt. The average 1% makes almost one million dollars a year; you have to make at least $343,927 a year to be a part [reference]. That is their income. Not holdings, not liquid assets, not stocks: income, from a job and capital gains and whatnot. Having a job that pays you $150,000 a year or even having a trust fund that you could live off of means you still probably make $100,000 too few to be part of the 1%.
Look, the solidarity is good and important, but the vast majority of people who say “I am the 1%” aren’t. And that betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what the OWS movement—and our current economy—is about.
This is an important point. “The 99%” was such a smart name to use because it encompasses just about everyone. That’s why people use terms like “99%” — back when one-percenters were motorcycle outlaws, the name stuck because it meant “the tiniest handful of people.”
People who are in the 99%:
- Most rappers who aren’t, like, Jay-Z or Kanye-sized famous.
- The bank manager who threatens to call the police on you for carrying signs while you close your account.
- People who were able to afford to fly first class to New York to visit Zucotti Park and write about it for narrowly-focused publications.
- Louis CK before this year.
- The richest person you know, probably, unless that person is crazy rich and invented Angry Birds or something.
And that’s the point — when they cry class warfare!, they’re trying to make it seem like these gaps are much more narrow than they are. That it’s a battle between people who wear hand-me-downs and people who shop at Nordstrom. There’s a reason for that: because there are a lot more people who can afford the indulgences of the occasional luxury product, or who can take some time off from work if they need to, or who have never had to work paycheck-to-paycheck, who are still not experiencing the world the way that the richest people in America, who control nearly half the wealth in the country, do. That’s the whole point.
This is a simplistic way of putting it, and it doesn’t fully represent how these things work, but it’s still kind of illustrative of what “the 99%” means: If a person is wondering if he or she is in the 1%, 99 times out of 100, they are not.