Rich, Schmich... The 1% Doesn't Control Your Fate

By | September 10, 2015 Leave a Comment

The 1% Doesn't Control Your Life... Contrary to Liberal Belief

Bring on the vitriol and defamation.

When people are unhappy about what I've written, it means I've hit a "nerve"... and it means I'm writing about something people actually care about. Well, I care a lot about it, too.

Over the past few weeks, as I've sat pondering the way our world is turning, I've put together a few words about "the One Percent" in our society. Here it goes.

I hate when people talk about the One Percent.

But I hate it for a far different reason than you probably do, and I'll explain why that is a little later.

You may think that the concept of the One Percent is rather new... and if you do, you would be wrong.

While it is true that the visibility of the One Percent and its role in the world are substantially increased as of late, especially since the wake of the financial crisis (a time when a good portion of the world became somewhat poorer, while the top economic tiers of society, the "One Percent," became substantially more rich), this group has been kicking around our world for far longer than any of us personally have.

Some Background on the Big Shot, Fancy-Pants Members of Society

Throughout most of recorded history, the vast majority of wealth has always been concentrated in the hands of a few--the so-called One Percent. The most powerful members of society have always been by far the most wealthy, as they have proven themselves to be the best procurers and consolidators of resources, and the most adept at applying those resources to progress. Whether or not their methods of consolidation were moral--well, that is another issue entirely, which I won't go into much here.

So, this situation in our country is nothing new. The wealthiest One Percent control an estimated 40% of the wealth you see around you, which is substantial. They even control the majority of the means of production.

That includes you and I.

It's disconcerting to realize you're being used as a pawn in someone else's game... frustrating, even. It makes you feel violated, degraded, deceived, and betrayed. And it's for these reasons, in my opinion, that people get so energized about the One Percent. Rightly so.

But what can you do about it? Should you do anything about it? Should you really care?

More to the point, perhaps a question we should ask ourselves is, "How has the One Percent directly screwed me over lately?" Has the 1% meddled in your life, stolen your livelihood, taken away your liberties, or physically assaulted your loved ones?

If not, then why do you even care now? Does knowing that the One Percent is controlling our society's politics, business, and social spheres fundamentally change how you are now going to live your life?

I hope the answer is "yes" to a degree--but, again, for reasons you might not expect. I'll explain later.

To be honest, I don't feel the One Percent has unilaterally screwed me over in any meaningful way, ever, period. I've always been able to live my life in the way I've felt was best, and never been inhibited by a "One Percent Boogeyman" staring over my shoulder, kicking at my heels, or denying me anything.

But not everyone feels that way. Perhaps they're more observant than I am. Or perhaps their worldview skews their perception of things.

Why do people spew so much vitriol about the One Percent so often in the media? Here are some ideas:
  • They make so much more dang money than almost everyone else (at least $343,927 per year, or a minimum of almost seven times the average American household (Clearly an evil in and of itself!)
  • They own an estimated 34.6% of the wealth (real and financial assets) in America (Those filthy, spoiled rich boys!)
  • They hold a tremendous amount of political sway in the world--enough to finance electoral campaigns and sway votes in their favor with campaign donations (Not good if taken to an extreme, but definitely not illegal).
  • Many of them earn around two to three hundred times what the average worker makes in their respective companies (Outlandish and excessive, to be sure, but immoral? No. After all, many of them built these successful businesses from the ground up).
  • Their wealth grew by 31.4% in the aftermath of the financial crisis, while the average American's wealth grew by just .4% (Seems suspicious,l but it's really only frustrating if you don't understand why and how it happened this way)
  • Most of them are selfish, old white guys (That's typical. Old white guys are always the devil incarnate.)
Okay, that last point was somewhat of a joke, but I've included it because it underscores the general sentiment of the remaining vocal "Ninety-Nine Percent" of us, which falls somewhere along the spectrum of "we hate them" to "we want them dead," or "we want to take their money."

In case you didn't notice, most of the reasons we have for hating the One Percent are based on wealth inequality, or unequal income distribution... as if such a situation were inherently immoral.

Honestly, this endless mantra about inequality reminds me of a playground argument from Kindergarten.  "Hey, he got two! I want another one!" This brings to mind a simple truth a friend of mine once told me:

"Fair ended in Kindergarten."

Can I just take a second to point out the obvious? There's nothing about life that is fair. Everyone is born into different circumstances, with different resources, and varying degrees of self-motivation and support systems. No one is born equal. That's life. Deal with it.

But everyone has the same ability to make smart choices which determine how financially successful their life ends up.

Even if you're born wealthy or make it big in life, it's quite easy to end up poor and in the gutter. It's simply a matter of personal choices 99% of the time. I know this to be true, because there are countless success stories out there of people who had absolutely nothing, and made it big through hard work or personal sacrifice.

Yet, many still think we're justified in despising the wealthy on the basis of higher income, greater wealth, or greater influence in society. But if we strip away these superficial justifications, we realize that we despise them only because they chose a different life path than us, which led to where they are now.

Is it either rational or moral for us to take a stance like this? Are we really justified in wishing for the downfall of the rich, based on the fact that they have so much more than us of something which we are all trying to obtain more of, every day of our lives?

"We despise them because they have attained 

something which we're all trying to attain?"

It occurs to me that in America, we don't we celebrate success anymore. Success is derided, but inwardly coveted, by those without it.

Let me just throw this out in the open.

If you despise the wealthy for having money, you're living a lie. We're all trying to make a decent living. We all want some level of financial stability or independence.

Most of you would agree that simply having money isn't evil...  that it isn't necessarily the wealthy's income level you have a problem with; it's what they do with that income, which creates problems for others.

If that's the case, then why the incessant mantra to "spread the wealth around?" Why even speak of wealth redistribution? Can permanent wealth and prosperity be handed out on street corners?

Why do you think that prosperity can be achieved if money is forcibly transferred from the stewardship of the extremely wealthy and powerful (the 1%), to the stewardship of the extremely bureaucratic, wasteful, and powerful (the government)? All government does is siphon money out of what it collects in order to feed itself.

So maybe your real "beef" with the wealthy is based on their meddling in politics, social issues, and foreign policy. Let's roll with that fallacy.

Honestly, put yourself in the shoes of some extremely wealthy person. You've worked for the past thirty or forty years of your life, building a company or business from scratch, and you're now living quite large. Now, let me ask you a few questions.

Do you really think you would be giving every cent of your "extra" wealth away to charity, as you think the rich should be doing right now? Do you do that in your own life? Consider that many of the one-percenters donate more of their wealth to charity (and to taxes) in one year, than all the wealth most of us would accumulate put together in 10 lifetimes. I guess providing hundreds of thousands of jobs, with paying salaries and benefits, just isn't "giving back" enough these days for the truly compassionate left. Real "charity" demands a cradle-to-grave social safety net.

Do you really think that if you were the head of a successful business, constantly battling against rising costs of production to keep your business profitable, that you would deem it wise to double worker salaries from $7.50 to $15.00 per hour overnight, without a second thought for how it would affect the solvency of your company? What would the investors think, who have put their money at risk in your company to help make it grow? What would the bank think, to whom you owe $1 billion in debt payments this year? What would the middle-rung workers think, who have worked hard for years to get where they are? How do you think this would affect morale?

Do you really think that if you were in the shoes of the One Percent, that you wouldn't make calculated risks in making political donations to candidates who will support you in the way you conduct business, or who make it easier for your company to be profitable? Or, that you wouldn't make sizable donations to social causes or interest groups which you think have merit?

Do you really think that as you've built your wildly successful business, you haven't made contact with people across the globe, upon whom you now rely mutually for success, and that you wouldn't be tempted to get involved politically in ensuring that they are also successful in their own countries?

Do you really think that if you have strong convictions about any cause or venture, and the ability to influence public decisions to further these things, that you wouldn't legally use your wealth to push things in your favor?

These are all rhetorical questions. And if you're honest with yourself, you know all the right answers.

Can you do me a favor? Spare me the argument about the "little guy" getting screwed. As I mentioned above, the "little guy" has the power to change his situation to whatever suits him best--even if he's completely homeless.

The malcontent against the successful members of our society must end!

In the words of comrade Barack Obama: "LET ME BE CLEAR."

We're all the One Percent. Or at least, we're striving to be. We're all guilty of doing what I described above, only on a much smaller scale.

Wealth isn't created by spreading it around... but by producing it through productive means

Do I believe that the One Percent could do better at using their wealth for good in society? It's not my place to judge. I certainly don't think it's the wealthy's obligation alone to finance the stupidity of government, which is what most low-earners in society believe.

I think we all can do better. But we shouldn't be drawing and quartering the wealthy, nor coercing them to "pay their fair share" if they are within the bounds of the law, and the tax code. Is this North Korea?

This is America, people! We don't get moral credit by forcing someone else to give up their wealth to a cause which we're not personally willing to contribute to. That's called hypocrisy.

I believe it is a moral obligation to use economic liberty to create a better society. So, I do believe the wealthy should use their wealth in ways which will build up a healthy republic, not tear it down. But they should never be forced to help society if they don't feel like it. That's the definition of liberty.

Demanding higher taxes on the wealthy than what the rest of society is subjected to is antithetical to "equality" that everyone is screaming about in the public square today.

Higher taxation is a form of coercing the rich to do the government's bidding, when the government is already wasteful and inept at getting things done. The idea is bred from the mentality of the playground argument, "He has more candy than me. I want more."

He bought the candy himself! He gets to decide what to do with it!

Please understand this economic truth about how the wealthy have built their wealth:

The rich aren't getting richer by stealing from the poor... the rich are getting richer, because they've learned to put their money where it grows best. They've simply been better positioned, because of their education, their smarts, and their ability to take calculated risks, to profit when everybody else is running for the hills. Is that immoral?

That's the reason why the One Percent's wealth has grown by 34% since the financial crisis, while the average person's wealthy has only grown by .4%. It's because the wealthy put their money to work, while the average person has no idea that his money can work on its own.

Hostility towards the wealthy members of society is woefully dangerous. If left unchecked, in the midst of an economic, political, or constitutional crisis, this hostility will cause the general populace to do horribly immoral things to the upper class. History has seen it happen before.

The Ninety-Nine Percent Created the One Percent

Let me bring this discussion full circle. I said earlier that I hate the One Percent for a different reason than you do.

Well, what I hate about the One Percent is how it came into power in our society.

Positions of great power are like a vacuum. If the rightful, virtuous leaders of a republican society, such as America, fail to step up and fill that vacuum when they should, or even just fail to keep it in check by oversight, the vacuum occasionally sucks up vermin, parasites, and disease.

The majority of the one percent are not vermin... but the bad apples make them all look bad, don't they?

And we, the middle class, put them into power. How so?

Through disengagement and complacency.

Too much of our society is disengaged politically, economically, and intellectually.

Only 54% of eligible adults voted in the last presidential election. An even smaller percentage in virtually every state participates in local elections.

Do you see? People care so little about the general direction of our country, that they fail to vote for the man who will be at the helm for the next eight years.

And they don't even care enough about the direction of their own states or cities to educate themselves about the leanings of their congressional representatives, and to drive two minutes to a ballot box at election time.

It's also disengagement and complacency which gives rise to the "spread the wealth" mentality. It's easy give other peoples' money away rather than sacrifice some of our own.

And while ignorance, disengagement, and compacency may seem like bliss, they never ends well.

On the other hand, higher levels of education and enlightenment are correlated with both greater civic engagement and higher income levels. Imagine that!

It's sad that the average person doesn't understand basic economics, finance, or taxes. They couldn't explain to you what a progressive tax system is, let alone the current proposals for a Fair Tax or Flat Tax. They couldn't explain to you the financial crisis, don't know how to buy an individual investment, don't understand why they earn virtually 0% interest at their local bank's savings account, and spend zero time planning financially for their future.

It's this ignorance which causes consumers to fall prey to the One Percent who are actually vermin. If you get taken advantage of, it's generally because you didn't do your homework. People need to take more responsibility for their own affairs.

Yes, shame on the vermin for taking advantage. But shame on you for falling for it.

As an example, consumers don't understand that personal and sovereign debt can reach unsustainable levels, and when they do, bad things happen, to both people and countries. They also don't realize that going broke is a refining process, meant to weed out the parasite businesses, practices, laws, and individuals from thriving in society.

The average Joe thinks that taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, or forcing the government to pay for education for everyone, is the only way to get a real job and make money in the world today, as opposed to gaining useful skills, starting a business, and making personal sacrifices along the way.

There are a thousand other areas of ignorance and stupidity which run rampant in our society today. The sad truth is, it's because of this intellectual and civic disengagement that the One Percent has so much power over us today.

It's the fault of the people, who have failed to uphold the system.

You should be the One Percent. You, I, and all our fellow citizens should be the ones in power, but that can only happen if everyone is engaged in all aspects of society. I can guarantee you that if the other 47% of voting-eligible citizens were educated on even a basic level, and conditioned to love liberty and economic empowerment, the One Percent would be bereft of their power.

So there you have it. Why does the One Percent "ail" me? Because it is a creature of our own demise. We got ourselves into this mess, and we're the only ones who can get ourselves out of it. That's not going to be an easy task.

So, are you still pissed off that the 1% controls your life? You first step is to take control of your own personal financial future, then to help others do the same. Move up the ladder, and with time, you'll too find yourself in a position to make a bigger difference than you can right now.

But by and large, I think I'm probably wasting my time preaching to you on this blog. You're unlikely to make any significant changes to your lives based on my words alone.

The only thing which can really wake up our noble republic to this daunting reality is some sort of terrible catastrophe--beyond anything we've witnessed before.

And honestly, I think when America's poor financial choices finally come home to roost, perhaps in the coming months, that's exactly what we'll have. Are you ready for it?

Live long and invest,

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