Thursday, November 03, 2011

protesting against themselves?

As a writer, it's usually only in hindsight that you know which topics will strike a chord with readers. Sometimes you write something you think is great, and it flops. Other times you write what seems like a mild article, and the response is deafening.

I had an experience with the latter this week. In an article titled "Attention, Protestors: You're Probably Part of the 1%," I showed that those who might be considered low-income Americans could actually be classified as the 1% richest of the world. "[T]he poorest [5%] of Americans are better off than more than two-thirds of the world population," I quoted a World Bank economist as noting. I then linked it to the current Occupy Wall Street protests: "Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%."

That opened up the floodgates. The article has generated upward of 10,000 comments on various forums across the Internet. Bret Baier of Fox News did a segment on the article Monday; CNN followed on Tuesday.

While quoting from the article directly, the Fox segment might have used the piece to portray an anti-Occupy Wall Street message. Indeed, one of the most common interpretations of the article was that it directed protestors to "quit complaining, shut up, and go home," as one reader wrote.

That wasn't my intent. In fact, I support much of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

But I still stand by the message in my original article: Perspective is key when discussing these issues. Many protesters indeed are among the 1% richest people on the planet. America might be packed with injustice and wrongdoing, but it's important to remember that on the whole, our system has created more prosperity -- even for our poorest members of society -- than most of the world can fathom. That's why it's crucial that protesters not turn anticapitalist, but instead remain focused on perversions of capitalism like cronyism, bailouts, and corruption.

-- Morgan Housel

[10/3/12] NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Think it takes a million bucks to make it into the Top 1% of American taxpayers?

Think again. In 2009, it took just $343,927 to join that elite group, according to newly released statistics from the Internal Revenue Service.

Occupy Wall Street protesters have been railing against the Top 1%, trying to raise anger and awareness of the growing economic gap between the rich and everybody else in America.

But just who are these fortunate folks at the top of the income ladder?

Well, there were just under 1.4 million households that qualified for entry. They earned nearly 17% of the nation's income and paid roughly 37% of its income tax.

Collectively, their adjusted gross income was $1.3 trillion. And while $343,927 was the minimum AGI to be included, on average, Top 1-percenters made $960,000.

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