Who Are the Top 1%?

“Those who don’t know the game or are assets and manipulators of  the game will want to ‘endorse’ people and organisations they say they support  in cleaning up America – but they will be the very people and groups that are  systematically destroying America.” -David Icke, October 16, 2011

The movement that began as Occupy Wall Street in New York has spread to other cities across America as well as countries. In Italy, the Occupiers instigated a riot in Rome, torching cars and smashing windows, which required armed police to be brought in.

In the name of equity, the Occupiers say they are the 99% opposed to the top 1%, the filthy rich. So who are America’s Top 1%?

To begin, we need to define “income” vs. “wealth or net worth.”

Income is what people earn — from salaries, wages, dividends, interest, royalties, and rents from properties they own. U.C. Santa Cruz Sociology Professor William Domhoff claims that most of the income of “the rich” does not come from “working”: In 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries.

Wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns in marketable assets (such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, but not including cars and household items), minus any debts or liabilities (such as home mortgages, credit card debts and auto loans). In effect, wealth is assets minus debts, or W = A-D. That is why a better term for “wealth” is “net worth.”

High income (HI) may or may not mean great wealth because a high-income person or household may simply spend everything they make — and more, by going into debt. At the same time, an individual or household with moderate or even low income (MI/LI) may actually become wealthy by being frugal and investing their savings wisely.

Thus, HI ≠ W; whereas it is highly possible that MI/LI = W. Remember that when you decide to condemn “the wealthy.”

Wikipedia says the current per capita (per person) median income in the United States is roughly $32,000 (for those employed full-time between the ages of 25 and 64, it’s $39,000). By “median” income is meant that the figure $32,000 divides the American population into two equal halves — half (50%) of Americans make more than $32,000, and the other half make less than $32,000.

The U.S. Census Bureau offers income data by household and individual. 42% of U.S. households have two income earners; thus making households’ income levels higher than personal income levels. According to a 2008 article on the investment website My Budget 360, the median U.S. household income was $46,326. Dual earner households had a higher median income at $67,348.

Currently marketing corporations and investment houses classify those with household incomes exceeding $75,000 as “mass affluent,” while sociologist Leonard Beeghley identifies all those with a net worth of $1 million or more as “rich.” The upper class is most commonly defined as the top 1% with household incomes commonly exceeding $250,000 annually.

Income in America (source: Wikipedia)

In a recent Census report there are 110 million households in the United States. Here’s the distribution of U.S. households’ income in 2006:

  • Top third (34.73%) of households had annual gross income of $65,000 or more.
  • Top quarter (25.60%) of households had annual gross income of $80,000 or more.
  • Top quintile (20%) of households had annual gross income of $91,202 or more.
  • Top 15% (17.80%) of households had annual gross income of $100,000 or more.
  • Top 10% of households had annual gross income of $118,200 or more.
  • Top 5% of households (3/4s of whom had 2 income earners) had annual gross income of $166,200 or more.
  • Top 3% (2.67%) had annual gross income of $200,000 or more.
  • Top 1.5% had annual gross income of $250,000 or more.
  • Top 0.1% (0.12% or 146,000 households) had annual gross income of $1,600,000 or more.

The 2008 article on My Budget 360 further breaks down that Top 0.1%. At its apex are:

  • The top 0.01% (11,000 households) with annual incomes of $5.5 million or more.
  • The top 400 highest tax payers in America had annual incomes of $87 million or more.

Notice how the incomes gradually go up from the Top Third’s $65,000 to the Top 1.5%’s $250,000, but between the Top 1.5%’s $250,000 and the Top 0.1%’s $1.6 million) is a huge gap of $1.35 million!

While households in the top 1.5% of households had incomes exceeding $250,000, 443% above the national median, their incomes were still 2200% lower than those of the top 0.01% of households. One can therefore conclude that almost any household, even those with incomes of $250,000 annually are poor when compared to the top 0.1%, who in turn are poor compared to the top 0.000267%, the top 400 taxpaying households.

According to the Federal Reserve Board, here’s the distribution of U.S. households’ networths in 2001:

  • 6.9% of U.S. households had a negative networth of <$0 (i.e., those who not only have zero assets but are in debt).
  • 5.4% of households had a networth of $0-$999.
  • 2.4% of households had a networth of $1,000-$2,499.
  • 3.5% of households had a networth of $2,500-$4,999.
  • 4.7% of households had a networth of $5,000-$9,999.
  • 8.1% of households had a networth of $10,000-$24,999.
  • 9.2% of households had a networth of $25,000-$49,999.
  • 12.8% of households had a networth of $50,000-$99,999.
  • 19.2% of households had a networth of $100,000-$249,999.
  • 13% of households had a networth of $250,000-$499,999.
  • 7.8% of households had a networth of $500,000-$999,999.
  • 7% of households had a networth of $1 million or more.

Alas, the Federal Reserve Board did not break that top 7% down, so we don’t know what’s the networth of the Top 1% of U.S. households, other than that the Top 1% own 32.7% of Americans’ total networth in 2001. In contrast, 50% of U.S. households own just 2.8% of Americans’ total networth.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the above distribution of U.S. households’ networths:

  • 58% of households with negative networth were young, i.e., under 35 years old (which makes sense because many college students are poor).
  • Those with negative networth are more likely to have a less-than-high-school education.
  • Among those with negative networth, the percentage who are unemployed (but not retired) is more than twice they are in the larger population.
  • Households with negative networth are concentrated in the South and in the West.
  • 10.1% of households with networth of $1 million or more are Boomers (aged 46-55).
  • 28.2% of the Top 1% households in networth are Boomers.

The Top 1%

Leonard Beeghley called the top 0.9% the “Super Rich”, whom he described as “Multi-millionaires whose incomes commonly exceed $350,000; includes celebrities and powerful executives/politicians.” The OWS Movement say they are against the Top 1%. Here are some members of the Top 1% who are or should be targets:

Barack Obama: (supports OWS)

  •  Annual POTUS salary (not total income): $400,000
  • Net worth in 2010: $10.5 million

The 25 richest members of Congress (in Roll Call’s 2009 annual survey that gives only their estimated net worth. Under federal law, members of Congress must disclose their personal investments and liabilities, but only in broad categories, thereby shielding the exact value of any asset or debt):

  1. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass): $188.37 million
  2. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca): $160.05 million
  3. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Ca): $152.62 million
  4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va): $81.50 million
  5. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas): $73.75 million
  6. Sen. Mark Warner (D- W.Va): $70.19 million
  7. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo): $56.49 million
  8. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla): 55.47 million
  9. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): $49.70 million
  10. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca): $46.07 million
  11. Sen. Alan Grayson (D-Fla): $31.41 million
  12. Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM): $25.52 million
  13. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca): $21.74 million (supports OWS)
  14. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NY): $19.90 million
  15. Sen. James Riche (R-Idaho) : $19.69 million
  16. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Ca): $19.37 million
  17. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tx): $18.41 million
  18. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn): $18.21 million
  19. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo): $15.73 million
  20. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): $14.90 million
  21. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine): $12.52 million
  22. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn): $12.12 million
  23. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont): $10.90 million
  24. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): $10.52 million
  25. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): $10.45 million

Non-elected political figures:

The Media:

Celebrities who’ve spoken out in support of Occupy Wall Street:

  • Yoko Ono: $500 million
  • Russell Simmons: $325 million
  • Sean Penn: $150 million
  • Rosie O’Donnell: $100 million
  • Roseanne Barr: $80 million
  • Deepak Chopra: $80 million
  • Kanye West: $70 million
  • Alec Baldwin: $65 million
  • Russell Brand (networth: 15 million; combined networth with wife, singer Katy Perry: $63 million)
  • Susan Sarandon: $50 million
  • Tim Robbins: $50 million
  • Michael Moore: $50 million
  • Danny Glover: $15 million
  • Talib Kweli: $14 million
  • Mark Ruffalo: $10 million

Here are the networths of some of the Super-Rich, the Top 0.01% (from Forbes’ richest 400 in America list):

  1. Steve Jobs: $8.3 Billion
  2. Carl Icahn (leveraged buyouts): $12 Billion
  3. Sergey Brin (Google): $15.9 Billion
  4. Charles Koch (manufacturing, energy): $19 Billion
  5. Michael Bloomberg (NY mayor): $20 Billion
  6. George Soros: $22 Billion
  7. Jim Walton (of Wal-Mart): $23.4 Billion
  8. Lawrence Ellison (of Oracle): $27 Billion
  9. Warren Buffet: $50 Billion
  10. Bill Gates (Microsoft): $57 Billion

The Occupy protesters reportedly are armed with iPhones and laptops and are active in social media — the very gadgets and communications technology invented by Jobs, Brin, Ellison, and Gates. Reportedly, Soros is funding the Occupy movement.

Will irony ever end?

By the way, raging socialist and President-for-life of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has an estimated networth of $1 Billion (!) — the same as Prince Albert II of Monaco. Another raging socialist, Fidel Castro of Cuba, has an estimated networth of $900 million.

Adios for now. See you at the Revolution!

~Eowyn

125 responses to “Who Are the Top 1%?

  1. Dear GF,

    Bless your beautiful heart. There’s a reason why the description of my gravatar says, sorta tongue-in-cheek, “Hobby: troll hunting”. I don’t take their slings and arrows personally, because I recognize the well of malice from whence come those ad hominem attacks.

    I’ve been blogging now for 3 years. I do this not for personal gain or recognition (“Eowyn” is a nom de plume), not for praise, but because I am called to the battle. Our beloved America is in mortal peril. If we don’t turn this around in the next year or two, I fear we’ll reach the point of no return, if we’re not already there. That’s why I do this, because I love this country, I love the Founding Fathers and the dream they had so many years ago.

    You cannot pay me a bigger compliment than the “angel” appellation. I am, of course, no angel, but I so love and admire the good Angels, led by the Braveheart of Angels, St. Michael. So I will accept your high compliment in their name.

    I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you, GF! Upwards and onwards. To battle!

  2. Politisaurus.Rex

    It appears that a lot of the people who are protesting the 1% should really be protesting the .1%. It only takes an income of $350,000 to be in the ‘top’. I have seen protesters saying they are protesting people making millions/billions every year.

    People can easily take charge of their financial future, especially if your in the very bottom. There are tons of programs to assist people with lower incomes with higher education.

  3. You are full of it as much as you are full of yourself and your pseudo-intellect. And from the comments I’ve seen so far, your constituents only love America for what they can squeeze out of its population.
    You are sick, twisted and slightly demented if you think this tripe you write has any intrinsic value, except maybe to continue perpetuating the lie of capitalism, neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism and rule by the oligarchy.

    • Typical commie, pull an Alinsky instead of debating any facts of the blog post.

      Don’t like capitalism? Then why is your arse still in CA? Why not head to Cuba or China? I’m sure you’d enjoy that lifestyle much more than the one you have in sunny CA…

    • Wow, Savage (you’re certainly no “Doc”),

      How long did it take you to squeeze out those 3 sentences, containing only ad hominem insults but not an iota of counter-evidence or even a counter-argument? An hour? A day? Do you move your lips, too, when you speak?

  4. All the list of the super rich is a lie the real rich people are behind the scene using the obvious super rich(for the public to hate) so that they can continue making their TRILLIONS. I,m talking about the ROTHSCHILD family. The richest of all creations. DAMN!!!!! I’m jealous of them not the like like Bill Gate and Warren Buffet. I wish I was the riches black guy from Ghana with all those TRILLIONS.

  5. It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Economic Student

    You used Wikipedia as a source. You lost all credibility immediately. Sorry. Couldn’t be assed to read the rest.

    • Too bad you couldn’t point your mouse on the other links available – US Census Bureau, My Budget 360, Federal Reserve Board, etc. – to educate yourself. While I don’t prefer wikipedia, they can offer useful information. In fact, many colleges and schools allows it to be used in citing homework.

      If you had taken the time to read the whole article and associated links, or other blog posts here, you will find that we provide much more facts/links than any of the SRM.

    • Assed? For someone who claims such intellectual superiority, you are sadly deficient in your command of the English language. I take it as a badge of honor that you “couldn’t be assed” to reading the rest. Unlike you, FOTM readers are classy folks.

  7. second year physics student

    I actually learned more reading through the replies rather than from the article itself. At the very least, you have made me reconsider how important and intellectually exhausting social sciences can actually be, and also to make sure I can cite every claim I ever make from now on. ^^

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