With the recent hoopla about "99 percenters" vs. the "1 percenters" I've often wondered why such an arbitrary distinction is reached. After all, if you're in the top 2 percent, you're pretty well off, and of course even among the 1 percent there's a big difference between someone making a million dollars a year and someone making a few billion a year. (The rest of us probably wouldn't notice the difference--to us, a certain model of brand-new Mercedes looks just as nice as any other model of brand-new Mercedes--but then again, among the truly poor, there seems no difference between someone who can shop at Whole Foods vs. someone who can shop at Trader Joes).
Also, why only count the 99 percent and 1 percent in the U.S.? To the Bangladeshi rope farmer, even lower middle-class Americans seem absurdly fortunate (and to be sure, just being an American in this day and age makes you very fortunate, compared with most other countries and all previous time periods, unless you like the idea of having no indoor plumbing and doctors using witchcraft to treat your kidney stones).
Finally, how are the 1 percent and 99 percent supposed to be measured? Income--as used in this handy online tool--is a good indicator, but it leaves out people with vast savings who have no actual income, and of course equal incomes in Manhattan and Dubuque will support very unequal lifestyles.
I need to know these things, so I can figure out whether I need to sharpen my pitchfork or go buy some pitchfork-resistant armor.
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