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Attention Protestors..You're Probably Part of the 1%

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Rocketman1981, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Rocketman1981

    Rocketman1981 Member

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    Interesting Perspective. Many claim that some Americans are born into the 1%, but being born into the US is pretty much like being born in the top 1% of the world in global standards. Guess there's always a bigger and smaller fish


    http://www.fool.com/investing/gener...of-the-1-.aspx?source=ihpdspmra0000001&lidx=2

    About a year ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an article describing the plight of Americans struggling to rebuild after bankruptcy. The article highlighted Linda Frakes, who filed for bankruptcy after accumulating more than $300,000 in credit card debt.

    "Ms. Frakes is now unemployed, living on $330 a week of unemployment benefits and odd jobs," the Journal wrote. Frakes "struggled to rent a home and buy a car after bankruptcy. A used-car dealer ultimately gave her financing on a Jaguar."

    No one's hardship should be belittled. Becoming unemployed or losing a home aren't just financial problems. They're social and emotional problems that strike at people's sense of being.

    But things always need to be kept in perspective. Only in America, I thought to myself after reading the article, can someone be driving a Jaguar and portrayed as living in an impoverished underclass. Context is crucial with these issues.

    The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest Americans and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge. If there were a global Occupy Wall Street protest, people as well off as Linda Frakes might actually be the target.

    In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?

    $34,000.

    That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it's $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000.

    Of course, goods and services cost different amounts in different countries. These numbers only apply to those living in the U.S. To adjust for purchasing power parity, those living in Western Europe should discount their dollar-denominated incomes by 10%-20%, Milanovic says. Those in China and Africa should increase their incomes by 2.5-fold. India, by threefold.

    The global distribution figures may seem incomprehensibly low, but consider a couple of statistics you're likely familiar with: According to the U.N., "Nearly half the world's population, 2.8 billion people, earn less than $2 a day." According to the World Bank, 95% of those living in the developing world earn less than $10 a day.

    Those numbers are so shocking that you might only think about them in the abstract. But when you consider them in the context of the entire globe, including yourself, the skewing effects they have on the distribution of income is simply massive. It means that Americans we consider poor are among some of the world's most well-off. As Milanovic notes, "the poorest [5%] of Americans are better off than more than two-thirds of the world population." Furthermore, "only about 3 percent of the Indian population have incomes higher than the bottom (the very poorest) U.S. percentile."

    In short, most of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement would be considered wealthy -- perhaps extraordinarily wealthy -- by much of the world. Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%.

    This isn't to disparage the occupiers' message. Protestors are, I think, upset because so many of America's top 1% are perceived to have earned their income unjustifiably -- think bankers and bailouts. Most are not against inequality of wealth; they're against inequality of opportunity. As they should be.

    But take a step back and put things in perspective. As Milanovic notes, "One's income ... crucially depends on citizenship, which in turn ... means place of birth. All people born in rich countries thus receive a location premium ... all those born in poor countries get a location penalty. It is easy to see that in such a world, most of one's lifetime income will be determined at birth." He continues, "it turns out that place of birth explains more than 60 percent of variability in global incomes." And there are few better places to be born than America -- even if you end up poor by American standards. If there is inequality in opportunity, those born in America are the ones with the unfair advantage.

    As author Matt Ridley put it, "Today, of Americans officially designated as 'poor,' 99 percent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 percent have a television, 88 percent a telephone, 71 percent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these." Nor does much of the world.

    Food for thought
     
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  2. Depressio

    Depressio Contributing Member

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    This is stupid.

    I have nothing else to say.
     
  3. HombreDeHierro

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    not stupid.

    makes a lot of sense
     
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  4. Major

    Major Member

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    Except no one is protesting people being rich. They are protesting the actions of certain rich people. The 1% / 99% thing is a marketing gimmick, but it has little to do with the actual idea behind OWS.
     
  5. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    Perspective sure, but in the end, meaningless.
     
  6. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    I think the general point is worth noting:

    There is a pretty evident conflict between wanting more and more and more when you live in one of the world's richer countries and having the goal of helping poorer countries. I would say that even "poor" people in Germany (those who are on welfare) have a better standard of living than >90 % of the world's population.

    People always protest because they want more, and they always look at those who have more than they do, and feel like they are treated unfairly. But on a more global scale, other people (those in the poorer nations) would be much more entitled to make that claim than some of the "occupy" protesters.

    On the other hand, I agree with the "occupy" protesters' message that some excesses in the top 1 % of the richest nations have to stop (some bankers and some top execs in other industries).
     
  7. AXG

    AXG Member

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    So true
     
  8. RedRedemption

    RedRedemption Contributing Member

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    How about comparing us to 1st-world countries and not backwater countries.
    Obviously we're not going to be poor as the citizens in Africa. But our society today has turned luxuries into necessities. Making small purchases here and there keep a person content and happy.

    That's the thing with 1st world countries. Happiness is the ultimate goal that is now being pursued, not survival.
     
  9. cml750

    cml750 Member

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    We have the richest poor in the world!!
     
  10. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    Good, so the American fat cats should be forced to give some money to African villagers.
     
  11. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    Fixed.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

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    bring it!

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/pNoj-PZbcO8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  13. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    That would be Scandinavian countries.
     
  14. Space Ghost

    Space Ghost Contributing Member

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    Except happiness is not found in materialistic things.
     
  15. Raven

    Raven Member

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    How dare you want to use our bathrooms, don't you know how good you have it compared to villagers in Africa?

    How dare you want to vote, don't you know how good you have it compared to women in the middle east?

    How dare you want to marry, don't you know how good you have it compared to gay men in Iran?
     
  16. CCorn

    CCorn Member

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    I liked the college republicans signs at my school saying occupy yourself, get back to work.
     
  17. dback816

    dback816 Member

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    And what exactly has meaning in life?

    I don't suppose you think accumulating 20k+ posts on an internet forum is more meaningful
     
  18. Mathloom

    Mathloom Contributing Member

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    This would make sense if they used an estimate of what a person needs to live in the US, rather than comparing across various countries.
     
  19. Raven

    Raven Member

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    The article is nothing more than corporate noise, noise is their most important tool for suppressing progress, just noise, lots and lots of noise, so much noise that the American public can't filter it out, and once your head is filled with noise, you get tired and stop thinking about anything, and then you go back to sleep, and that's what this is really all about, going back to happy dreamland and forgetting about all those complicated, fatiguing, and depressing political discussions.
     
  20. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    So now everyone is a 1%er?

    Can we now get back to suppressing the other 99%!

    DD
     

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