Friends, what amuses me most about the debate over Occupy Wall Street is how many people have come out to attack the movement because they mistakenly feel that they are in the top 1%.
There are two problems with this. The first is that the top 1% of American money-makers are far more wealthy than most realise.
The second is that the real problem isn’t the top 1%, it’s the top one hundredth of 1%, and they have more money than god.
If one starts looking around for “facts” about inequality in the US it doesn’t take long before one stumbles into the bullshit.
For example the site “financial samurai .com” states the top 1% in America “only” make $380,354 a year. This is an assload of money to be sure, but is it really the bizarrely high amounts that people with working brains get so horrified by? Of course not.
But that’s because it’s a lie. In Mark Twain’s breakdown of the 3 types of lie it falls into category 3: “statistics”.
Let’s say I want to prove that people don’t breathe very often. I give one hundred people a questionnaire that asks “how often do you take a breath?” The question is multiple choice and the options are:
A) Once a day
B) Twice a day
C) Once an hour
D) Once every five minutes
Naturally, most people will choose “D” because it’s the closest option to the correct answer and presto! I will have created an empirical research study that shows that people only breathe once every five minutes. Go me.
This is a pretty silly example but sadly it’s exactly the same logic that is being used by financial samurai and many others because they base their calculations on US income tax data. These data are broken down into various categories. Guess what the highest category is?
So because that is the highest category propagandists take that to mean that the top 1% of America only make a few hundred thousand dollars a year.
And also only breathe every 5 minutes.
Anyway, the problem is that getting accurate information about what the top earners actually make is quite difficult. Most of the populist sources (like Fox News) have a vested interest in preserving the status quo so they dish out misleading statistics as a matter of course.
And when people like Warren Buffet try and tell the truth about all this they get subjected to sustained and intense fire from the elites of society. A short bout of googling revealed literally dozens of articles talking about how crazy Buffet it, how he’s a liar, how his company is guilty of tax fraud and so on.
The most common tactic seems to be to accuse him of “class warfare” because, you know, conducting class warfare is always a bad thing, right? Especially when one class really is fucking over all the others.
And getting data from activist groups often doesn’t help either because your findings will be criticised as being “biased”.
So with all this obfuscation going on where can we go to find accurate measures of what the really rich are really making?
Well, it’s actually pretty easy. You see friends the truth is that, as Noam Chomsky pointed out, the elites in a society are usually the most heavily indoctrinated. So while the populist outlets like Fox News still have the sense to be embarrassed by how much money the rich are making the rich themselves have no such qualms.
So if you go to information outlets that serve the rich you get unbiased, accurate data that show that the really rich are making so much money that it makes you throw up a little, into your mouth.
Forbes.com was my first stop and there I learned that the top 500 executives in the US earned about $9 million a piece this year, and that’s just salary, it doesn’t include stock increases and other investments. Next I learned that CEO Stephen Hemsley earned only $3.3 million dollars in salary and bonus this year (poor baby) but got over $98 million dollars profit in his stock portfolio.
But where is he in terms of income tax brackets? That’s right: $380,354.
So he is in the same tax bracket as someone who makes one two hundredth of what he actually makes and the top 1% as a whole are making millions and paying relatively small amounts for it.
So when people post angrily on Facebook saying that they don’t feel they should be taxed more or make cardboard signs promising to defend the top 1% I just laugh.
Because none of those people are actually partaking of the massive wealth being generated in America. But they are so heavily indoctrinated that they think they are the wealthy and that they are under attack!
But they are not the wealthy. They are the well-trained attacks dogs of the wealthy. They bark loudly and live off scraps from the table. Then they work their hardest to please their masters, by trying to keep the rebelling peasants from their masters’ gates.
Occupy Wall Street.
It’s the right thing to do.
[Standard Disclaimer: this post was entirely my own opinion and was not paid for in any way, directly or otherwise, by anyone or anything that stands to gain in any way from the ideas expressed herein.]