The One Percenters are not a monolithic entity, but rather a diverse crowd demographically, geographically and occupatonally. But what they have in common is the extraordinary amount of the nation’s wealth under their control.
Statistician Willford King in 1911 noted the richest 1% of Americans took home 15% of the nation’s income. In the midst of the Progressive Movement, this raised alarms. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system to deal with this growing disparity. In the early 1930’s the nation was compelled to deal with an out of control investment culture that was one of the root causes of the Great Depression.
Following, World War II income distribution became profoundly more equal during what has been referred to as the “Great Compression” where wealth looked as if it was gathering in the middle of the distribution curve.
But today, the work of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s seems to have been for naught. Today the top 1% take home a record 24% of the nation’s income, almost triple the percentage in 1976. The top one tenth of that 1% take home 7.7%. More than 80% of the massive wealth increase between 1980 and 2005, and almost every penny of the 20% growth of the 2000s went to the One Percenters.
Today the U.S. has income inequality more gaping than than that of third world nations of Guyana, Nicaragua and Venezuela to name a few.
In 2010, the top 1% are those who took home at least $516,633, and had a net worth of at least $9,523,000. It is projected that an average member of that 1% will earn $1,830,773 in income this year.
The 1 Percenters are not all on Wall Street or in the Banks. They are a diverse crowd with a little less than 45 percent making the lion’s share of their money as investors, financiers and bankers. Only 29 of the 100 richest people in America wealth primarily through finance.
Others are in land and mineral speculation, manufacturing, farming and ranching, medicine, computer science and other technologies, marketing and entertainment. Some are even dead (Elvis, John Lennon, and Michael Jackson are among their numbers).
It is hard to nail them down since most, of course, draw their wealth from several sources.
But the Occupy Protestors are still right when they specially target corporate owners, executives, managers, and supervisors in the financial professions as the greatest beneficiaries of America’s growing income inequality.It is the financial sector that drives American in all categories.
That group makes up the majority of the one tenth of one percent — the ultra-rich — and account for 70% of the increase in the share of national earnings that goes into the hands of that narrow elite in the last 10 years.
Finance saw its share of corporate profits rise from less than 10% in 1979 to over 40% in the past decade.
To find details on all of this, look at the sources: