“We Are the 99 Percent,” But Who Are The 1 Percent?November 4, 2011
Here are some quick stats on “the 1 percenters” from Suzy Khimm of The Washington Post:
- The top 1 percent of American households had a minimum income of $516,633 in 2010.
- In New York City, the top 1 percent have an average income of $3.7 million.
- Average wealth (including home equity, stocks and other investments) of the top 1 percent was almost $14 million in 2009.
Next question : what are the 1 percenters doing for a living? Mike Konzal goes through the top jobs of 1 percenters over at his blog Rortybomb, with this excellent chart:
So why focus on the top 1 percent? Mike makes a convincing argument:
There’s good reason to focus on the top 1% instead of the top 10 or 50%. There is evidence that financial pay at this elite level is correlated with deregulation and the other legal changes that brought on the crisis. High-ranking senior corporate executives’ pay has dwarfed workers’ salaries, but is only a reward for engaging in shady financial engineering practices. These problems require a legal solution and thus they require a democratic challenge and a rethinking of how we want to structure our economy.
Third question: who, exactly, are the worst of the 1 percenters? Which individuals gamed the system the most, and used extraction and corrupt business and political practices to amass more money and power than the other 99 percent of Americans?
To answer that question, Brave New Foundation and award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald are crowdsourcing the web for answers, asking people to submit names for “the worst of these one percenters.” Greenwald then plans to make short films “exposing the specific wealthy individuals who’ve done the most damage to our economy and democracy.”
We reached out to Brave New Foundation to see what kind of responses they’ve gotten on day one of the campaign. Here are just a couple:
IT’S A HARD CALL BUT THE KOCH BROTHERS SPRING TO MIND FIRST. BOTH BILLIONAIRES, BUYING ELECTIONS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, PUTTING THEIR TEA PARTY PUPPETS IN PLACES OF GOVERNMENTAL POWER. – Reilly, Tucson, AZ
HOW ABOUT JAMIE DIMON OF JPMORGAN CHASE? OR LLOYD BLANKFEIN OF GOLDMAN SACHS? THOSE GUYS TAKE HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS IN BAILOUTS AND THEN HAVE THE AUDACITY TO WHINE ABOUT EVEN THE SLIGHTEST REGULATION OF HOW THEY’RE OPERATED. IT’S LIKE ME DEMANDING A SALARY WITHOUT ANYONE HAVING TO OVERSEE MY WORK. - James, Los Angeles, CA
After taking suggestions on the web, they’ll narrow it down to the top 30, and then hold a vote to figure out which ones to profile.
Close to 900 people have submitted answers on day one of the campaign. To submit your idea, head over to Brave New Foundation’s “Who Are the 1 Percent?” page, put in a name, and your argument for why that person in “the 1 percent” deserves some attention.
They just ask you to stick to two criteria: “the individuals must be in the wealthiest 1% of Americans, and use their wealth and power to keep the other 99% down.” (Try to play by the rules, kids, even if the 1 percenters aren’t.)
Here’s their launch video from Robert Greenwald, which is worth a watch:
- Megan Robertson is a digital producer for DylanRatigan.com.