Who Is A 1%er?

It only recently came to my attention that I have no clue about where the dividing line between the 1%ers and the rest lies.  Seems to me I can appreciate the problem better if I know some facts.

To that end I looked at several articles purporting to prove that there is a vast inequity presently in place and it is growing.  Only the government can solve it ideas.  I detest ideologically driven arguments.

The first thing you find is that the whole thing is a giant exercise in spin.  It is entirely out of context.   For example a recent story on CBS news.  The 1% will own more wealth than the rest of us by 2016.  There is no meaning to the raw number.  Wealth is relative.  Someone with $50,000 in Manhattan is not wealthy.  Someone with $50,000 in the least wealthy 180 countries is well off.

It may not be fair that some have more than others in one sense, but in my experience those with wealth mostly earned it by doing smart things for a long time.  That consideration seems not to be too evident to the commentators.  It is not different in the rest of life.  Children who pay attention and practice hockey get more playing time than the slackers.  Daddy cannot buy you a slap shot and you should not be envious of the teammate who can do it.

Let’s look at income.  The 1%ers are earning huge money, right?  Not right!  Using the world as a reference and US dollars as the instrument of measure, you will be in the top 1% if you earn more than (ready for this)  $35,000 annually.  Using that as the reference, I suspect there are 1%ers here who cannot afford a car.

Even if you look at the US alone, 1% level family income is less than $400,000.  While much above average ($67,000 or so,) they are hardly the idle rich.  Most are professionals or small business owners who work close to two times the national average number of hours and risk their entire accumulated wealth on a daily basis.  Most buy their own benefits and save their own money for retirement.  Day-to-day consumption money is far less than the six time gross income suggests.

The people who promote class envy and victimhood are dishonest.  Pay them little attention.  Seek facts.  Assess value.  When you baby is sick, do you find it wrong that your pediatrician may be a 1%er?

Those who mislead would like you to think that the 1%ers, own jets, vacation homes in Aspen and Miami Beach, yachts and send their children to school in Switzerland.  They do not.  The misleaders are showing you the 1% of the 1% of the 1% and claiming that they are representative.  Be smarter than that.

Comparison and planning only works if it is in context.  Envy is an impediment to achievement.  Have as little as possible to do with the people for whom envy is a tool to promote their cause.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com 

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