So Who Are the 1%?

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There is a movement right now called Occupy Wall Street (for those of you that are completely oblivious to the world around you) and they are hooting and hollering over the amount of money made by the so-called 1%. Understandable, it pisses me off too. A small group of people making all the income and, in turn, having all the security, sucks… when they do it illegally. But who are they taking about? Not everyone has screwed the 99% in that fashion. Some people have actually worked hard and long enough to deserve this amount of compensation. So who constitutes the ‘guilty party’?

A study conducted by CNN Money has uncovered the following:

Since this is an economical argument, let’s use numbers. Think it takes a million bucks to make it into the Top 1% of American taxpayers? Think again. In 2009, it took just $343,927 to join that elite group, according to newly released statistics from the Internal Revenue Service. With these numbers in mind, there were just under 1.4 million households that qualified for entry. They earned nearly 17% of the nation’s income and paid roughly 37% of its income tax. Collectively, their adjusted gross income was $1.3 trillion. And while $343,927 was the minimum AGI to be included, on average, Top 1-percenters made $960,000. But the income threshold for this exclusive group changes every year, largely with the performance of the stock market, experts said.

In 2007, when times were good on Wall Street (remember those?), one needed to have an adjusted gross income of more than $424,000 to get into the highest rank. But the stock market decline in recent years has helped lower that bar back to a level not seen since 2002. “The further up you go, the wider swings you see,” said Pete Sepp, spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union. “They have a great deal of wealth sunk into the markets, which can vary quite widely.” While much of the wealthy’s income comes from capital gains on investments, bonuses on the job can also give people the needed boost.

Many workers in the securities industry in New York likely qualify for the Top 1%. These folks, many of whom work only blocks from where protesters are gathering in Zuccotti Park, made an average salary of just over $311,000 in 2009, according to the state Comptroller’s Office. (This figure does not take into account certain income, losses and deductions that make up adjusted gross income.)

A separate study found that financial professionals made up about 14% of the top rank in 2005.

Executives, managers and supervisors working outside of finance accounted for 31%, the largest share, according to an analysis by Jon Bakija of Williams College, Adam Cole of the Treasury Department and Bradley Heim of Indiana University. Medical professionals came in at 15.7%, while lawyers made up 8.4%.

Over time, the Top 1% has claimed a bigger share of the income pie. In 2007, they earned 22.8% of the nation’s income, more than double the amount in 1986, according to IRS data. The recession has since brought that slice down to just under 17% for 2009.

While those at the top have seen their incomes soar over time, middle-class incomes have stagnated.

“The higher up the income distribution you go, the more your income rose and the larger the share of total income gains went to your group,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

But as corporate profits and productivity have increased, workers aren’t reaping the benefits, said Edward Wolff, a New York University economics professor who specializes in income inequality. That’s helping spark the movement, which has spread across the country.

“There is a lot of anger and it’s for a very good reason,” Wolff said. “If all of the income gain goes to the top, there’s not much left to go to the rest of the people.”

The study finds that the apparent ‘trickle down effect’ of income that every politician from every political party promises does not actually take effect. The higher ups see financial growth and do everything possible to keep it for themselves. They cut production costs, jobs, income, and ultimately find a way to make more profit. This is where the problem lies. It’s been happening for decades but has been extremely apparent in the last 4 years. BUT what can be done when this is a free capitalist society where you have the freedom to make your money in any way, shape, or form…legally? If a company sells goods or services in a legal fashion and its higher ups make a ton of money, then good for them. They own the company, supplied the goods, and worked to make the income they received. BUT if said company is making million or billions illegally while being protected by the government WE elected… then we have a massive problem.


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Scott St. John

About Scott St. John

I have worked in the media for over 30 years as a Producer,director, cameraman,photographer and in publicity. I have worked for the four major television networks and for over 20 different cable networks. From American Idol to the Today Show to HBO Documentaries to the Academy Awards, I have been fortunate to work at the highest professional level in television. As a photographer, my work has been published or seen online in magazines such as Maxim, Stuff, Us weekly, InTouch,Gotham, Shock, OK magazine and more. My work has taken me to the four corners of the world from Africa to South America to Europe to Japan. It's been a great run and I am happy to be on board with the News Burner team.

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5 Responses to So Who Are the 1%?

  1. Jackie October 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    …okay, so the top half percent…basically it’s those stepping on others to put so much money in the messed up bank that there is no way they will ever be able to spend even half of it. It’s the ratio of pay of CEO : Average worker – that gets me/ Japan it’s 11:1 – Canada 20:1 – US 475:1

  2. Ed Rodfree October 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    It’s absolutely disgusting… but as private businesses they are allowed to make that money. My issue is with the government, THE BOUGHT GOVERNMENT, allowing for severe tax breaks and such because it will CREATE JOBS. This is the trickle down effect I am talking about which is absolute BS. Basically the government is saying… pay me off and I will let you get away with it…

    • Sudhir February 15, 2014 at 4:03 am #

      2012/11/07 下午 5:43 1BI’m extremely ispeirnd together with your writing talents and also with the format in your blog. Is that this a paid topic or did you customize it your self? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  3. Joseph Nathan Cohen October 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    This figure is misleading. The top 1% live off business profits and financial holdings. If you want an accurate view of the top 1%’s wealth, look at how much they have in financial assets. The top 1% is WAY richer than those who earn $343k a year:


  1. Northern Oil and You | The News Burner - October 22, 2011

    […] Here’s 17,953 jobs available in North Dakota, 1,211 of which pay $100,000+. You can go from part of the 99% to part of the 1% overnight. After all it only takes $343,927 to achieve that statues as News Burners own Ed Rodfree pointed out here. […]