Many OWS protesters are the 1%

While Occupy Wall Street and other Leftists are whining endless about the rich and oppressive corporations and costing local taxpayers millions, Morgan Housel of the Motley Fool notes that many of these protesters would likely find themselves in the 1% income earners…in the world:

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest Americans and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge. If there were a global Occupy Wall Street protest, people as well off as Linda Frakes might actually be the target.

In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?


That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000.

Of course, goods and services cost different amounts in different countries. These numbers only apply to those living in the U.S. To adjust for purchasing power parity, those living in Western Europe should discount their dollar-denominated incomes by 10%-20%, Milanovic says. Those in China and Africa should increase their incomes by 2.5-fold. India, by threefold.

Those numbers are so shocking that you might only think about them in the abstract. But when you consider them in the context of the entire globe, including yourself, the skewing effects they have on the distribution of income is simply massive. It means that Americans we consider poor are among some of the world’s most well-off. As Milanovic notes, “the poorest [5%] of Americans are better off than more than two-thirds of the world population.” Furthermore, “only about 3 percent of the Indian population have incomes higher than the bottom (the very poorest) U.S. percentile.”

In short, most of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement would be considered wealthy — perhaps extraordinarily wealthy — by much of the world. Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%.

And while they decry corporations that use labor in other countries, such as China and India, they seeminly have no problem purchasing those goods for their own use. It’s kind of hard to be taken seriously when you’re looking up the schedule for your daily protests on your iPhone or iPad.

Jonathan Hoeing notes that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are putting the blame in the wrong place. That’s true, as the Washington should be the target of their rage:

Corporations are associations of people freely working to maximize returns for stakeholders. Such freedom is inherent in a few kids in a lemonade stand or thousands of workers at a multi-national conglomerate.

You don’t acquire any “new” rights by joining a corporation, just as you don’t for joining a book club, a union, a gym or any other group of individuals. No corporation or individual has the right to a bailout—these are granted or agreed upon by governments.

In the United States, the protesters should be occupying Washington, not Wall Street, asking why and how politicians bend to corporate pressures. As Ayn Rand Institute analyst Don Watkins observed, the goal should be to take the “crony” out of crony capitalism, not the capitalism.
In fact, the Occupy Wall Street movement, because of its core ideals, is actually value destroying. Operating by force and intimidation, the occupiers barge into private businesses disrupting workers and customers alike. In New York, where sales for local establishments have dropped 20% in the area around the protests, occupiers commandeered patrons at Union Square Cafe, warning the restaurant “will not be peaceful” because owner Danny Meyer sits on Sotheby’s board.

As protestors finally confront the corporations they so vehemently despise, their supposed enemies are revealed not as oppressors, but as everyday people; bar patrons, bank tellers, and restaurateurs each engaging in voluntary trade.

We could point out the obvious to Occupy Wall Street all day long, but it’s not going to change their misguided belief that government is the answer to what they wrongly see as inequality. The Occupy Wall Street protests are statists, the corporatists they are protesting are also statists. How ironic?

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