The one-percenters are that portion of the US population that have an inordinate amount of wealth. Whether by inheritance, hard work or plain old luck perhaps by winning the lottery or hitting the “big one” at a Las Vegas slot, they have more money, a lot more money, than the rest of us.
Do you qualify?
The Times had [in a previous article] estimated the threshold for being in the top 1 percent in household income at about $380,000, 7.5 times median household income, using census data from 2008 through 2010. But for net worth, the 1 percent threshold for net worth in the Fed data was nearly $8.4 million, or 69 times the median household’s net holdings of $121,000.
It has been claimed that if this wealth were more equally distributed, life would be better for most, and not that much worse for the would be donors.
While this seems to have a certain amount of logic, some social experiments have demonstrated this may not be the case. John Calhoun, for example, conducted some rather extreme experiments with rats and overcrowding in the 1960s. He used the term “behavioral sink” to describe the societal collapse that occurred and, when continued to its ultimate end, complete extinction of the test population. See the Wikipedia article.
Noted elsewhere, however, is a curious data point. In Calhoun’s experiments, a small percentage of the rats — or mice, depending on the reporter — were able to establish relatively isolated living spaces and, therein, protect themselves and their progeny from the worst effects of the over-crowding.
This group is comparable to the 1% of the US population that lives better than the masses. They have better housing, they eat better and their children survive better.
Of course, people aren’t rats — at least not all, some might object — and the experimental conditions in Calhoun’s experiments were certainly much more extreme than what we find in most of the world — again with some possible exceptions. But as the population in Calhoun’s experiment increased, the rats resorted to, and fell victim to, many of the ills we see in today’s world and culminated, if you can call it that, in the loss of will or ability to reproduce. The experimental rat colony became extinct.
It has been extensively debated whether or not Calhoun’s results can be applied to humans and to our population-related problems.
But the question to be answered here, of course, is whether redistributing the wealth of the 1% would, in fact, save the 99%?
Or, once the 1% are deprived of their special survival attributes, wouldn’t 100% then suffer the same fate?
So, who’s fault is it, and more to the point, will redistributing the wealth from the 1% make any significant difference to the 99%, or is the fact that there is this division of a 1% and a 99% just a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself?
I like your article and you got me thinking. I wish I wrote as well as you but here goes.
The monetary value of something is the amount of money it is sold for or can potentially be sold for. It is not the cost of materials, labor, research, overhead, etc., though those things and many more may affect the value of goods or services.
The amount of money a person makes is an agreement between the person making the money and the person or persons paying for services rendered. The potential monetary value for that person depends on what that person does to persuade others to pay them.
Gold is currently more or less $1000.00 US dollars an ounce. Gasoline’s average price in the USA is approximately $2.32 a gallon.
Is it possible to fix the price of any item based on a fair calculation of the cost of materials, labor, research, overhead, etc., and keep the price fixed forever or for a predetermined amount of time?
Is it possible to fix the wages of a person based on a fair calculation of their monetary value to an employer or to society?
Who would be the ultimate authority on fixing the monetary value of wages and goods and services?
It is true some things like taxes and wages are fixed for a time (more on that below).
If people were motivated to work to provide goods and services without any pay and were able to receive goods and services in return for free than nobody would need money and everyone would be happy right?
I don’t see people being motivated to work sometimes even when they are being paid well in my mind. I don’t see how all people would ever be motivated to work for free.
If prices and wages were fixed by an ultimate authority would people be motivated because they believe that authority is right and fair?
Again, I’ve seen people who were not motivated who were paid very well by USA standards, and people who were very motivated and not being paid very well at all.
What does this mean? I believe it means the monetary value of wages, goods, and services should never be fixed across the board for society by a sole authority.
What about minimum wages, taxes, and child labor laws? We already have those laws and while not everyone agrees on the amounts (or even existence) of minimum wage, taxes, or the minimum age for child labor, at least the minimum wage and taxes are nearly constantly hotly debated.
The USA has been able to maintain a nearly free market economy and generate more wealth for the general population through a variety of goods and services than maybe any other country.
We have people in the USA living in poverty. Should we pay more taxes to give more money to people in our country who are below what we call the poverty line?
Should we pay more taxes to give more money to people in the rest of the world who live below what we call the poverty line?
Should we pay more taxes to give money to other countries to help them defend themselves against other countries, or so they defend us so we don’t have to defend ourselves?
Should we make people who make the most money in our country ‘the top one percent people’ pay more taxes to help people in our country?
Should we make people who make the most money in our country ‘the top one percent people’ pay more taxes to help people in other countries?
Should everyone pay a flat tax percentage like say 25 cents out of every dollar earned?
Would a national sales tax on only items sold work better than the income tax system we have now?
How is it that the people I talk to like the idea of a flat tax or national sales tax but those ideas never become law?
How is it that some of those same people would swear by a flat tax or national sales tax, but would alternately support the idea of taxing the top one percent wage earners?
Those people somehow think it fair we all pay the same percent percentage of taxes but if we can’t than at least we shouldn’t raise their taxes, we should just raise the taxes on those ‘rich’ people.
The most obvious reason is many people think it won’t hurt those top one percent rich people to pay more. After all they have everything they could possibly want. How could it hurt them to pay more?
I don’t think that way but I am sure some of our politicians think that way or at least figure they can get a lot of people under the top one percent to think that way.
So just what does ‘fair’ mean when it comes to money anyway?
I attempted to be fair when I wrote this. I think we have a country that can still be changed for the better and that well informed people voting and calling their representatives in government is the way to change it.
It seems like taxing the richest top one percent people in this country would be an easy law to pass since it only affects one percent. Some would argue that the richest people will use their money to fight it. Some of the top one percent have even stated that it is fair that they pay more.
No matter what politics are involved and what the outcome is I will never say it is fair for some people to pay even more than they do now just to make it easier on others though obviously we have done just that with our tax system in the past.
I will say however a national sales tax would seem to be fair and even people currently getting out of paying any taxes would have to pay taxes when buying.
I think those details could be worked out to provide the tax money needed to run this country.
I also think a flat tax could have a similar result but there would still be many more people not paying taxes than with a national sales tax.
Maybe we need an intelligent combination of both!
Winston Churchill, speaking in Parliament, said, “… it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
I think you’ve hit several nails on their heads, Larry.
Thanks Ed. That’s a huge compliment coming from you. Winston Churchill certainly summed it up very well. Also, I read your article again since you said you may have edited it since I last read it. I can relate totally. I usually feel if I’m thinking it, everybody else is too and the time to publish is now! If I edit too much the interest level will wane and my article will be rendered irrelevant. Okay, maybe not that extreme but I get it.
Actually, I figure that with my very irregular posts, I have no readers, or at least not any that read things right away so I’ve felt it OK to be lazy about doing lots of on-line updates.
But now that I know that’s not the case, well, I’ll just have to clean up my act, do my editing “before the fact”, and when I hit “Publish” learn to live with the consequences.
I use the Official Stat Counter Plugin to track who goes to my WordPress sites. I can’t tell if they read them but I can tell where they came from, their operating system, how much time they spent there, how many pages they read and what website they exited to. It was useful when I was selling tools. I don’t permit comments on my blog anymore partly out of laziness and partly because so few people read it anyway. Anyway, I like your blog, and while I don’t read it all the time, like other news, it’s your headline that sucks me in. (Other sources like AOL are so often outrageous in the ways they try to suck me in I often ignore them anyway) I prefer good honest headlines or at least some semblance of honesty.