Who Are The Top 1% Income Earners?

It's normal to rage against the top 1% nowadays. The pandemic created a widening wealth chasm between the top 1% income earners and everyone else. If you happen to be doing well, I highly suggest you keep things under wraps.

By definition, 99% of people do not make a top 1% income. Therefore, there can be a lot of envious people if you show off your wealth too much. However, once you make top one percent money, you can more easily accumulate top one percent wealth, which is what really matters.

As of 2023, a top 1% overall income is at least $650,000. Back in 2015, a top 1% overall income was only $380,000! Talk about inflation and economic growth.

Who Are The Top 1% Income Earners?

As a landlord since 2005, I've been able to screen many tenants over the years. During this process, I've discovered many people make top 1%-level incomes ($400,000 between 2005 – 2010 and $650,000+ for 2023+).

For example, in my latest screening, I discovered the top 1% are a couple who met in law school at 25 and are now 28 year old 2nd year associates making over $450,000 combined.

The top 1% is also the 30-year-old Google software engineer from Caltech who brings in $500,000 a year plus $200,000 in RSUs, with over $300,000 in savings.

The top 1% is the 35-year-old cardiologist who is finally making over $650,000 a year after 11 years of post high school education and 3 years of residency work at $60,000 a year. By the time he's 45, he will probably make over $800,000 dollars.

Where else can we find the top 1% income earners? Oh yeah, MBA grads who join Wall Street firms such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs at the standard $150,000 base salary and $35,000 sign-on bonus at age 29-30.

The top 1% income earners are university professors who have the great blend of riches and status. People respect professors for their intellect and contributions to society. Professors can make much more money consulting, speaking, and writing books on the side.

If they can last through the treacherous ups and downs of the markets, the multiple rounds of layoffs every year, the intense pressure of 60-80 hour work weeks, not to mention all the internal political land mines, they too will make over $400,000 a year by the time they are 35 year old second year Vice Presidents.

Let's explore a little further who else makes top 1% money besides the usual suspects.

Top 1% Income Earners From All Occupations

The below highlights top 1% income earners from various occupations. Some are more obvious, such as medicine and banking.

However, you'll be surprised by how many other industries pay top 1% income. The key to being a top 1% income earner is really about performance and longevity. The top producers over the longest period of time tend to get paid the most.

Public School Administrators:

Public colleges regularly pay their employees hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The best paid University of California employee is the football coach, with a salary of $5 million a year. Not bad for a job many would say they'd love to do for much less. Then there is Nick Saban, head coach of Alabama's football team that makes $10 million a year.

Practically every single Top 25 head coach in football and basketball makes multiple-six figures. The UC's last President earned $900,000 and UCSF's Chancellor, Susan Desmond-Hellman made $450,000.


In September 1999, President Clinton signed legislation that increased the presidential salary to $400,000, effective January 2001. This presidential pay raise was the first since 1969, when the president's salary was raised from $100,000 to $200,000. Adjusted for inflation, $200,000 in 1969 would be worth $930,232 today.

On top of the salary and expense accounts, both the U.S. president and vice president are given free housing with plenty of amenities. The White House has 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, a movie theater, bowling alley, billiards room, tennis court, jogging track and putting greens. Pretty good perks!

Up and coming politicians such as AOC earn $174,000 in Congress. Although not a top 1% income, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will earn millions if she decides to write a book or move on from politics. It is an inevitability that by the time AOC turns 40, she will have a net worth over $1 million.


Bloggers making over $650,000 a year are everywhere, you probably just don't realize it. Here are some that make the list: Darren Rowe (Pro Blogger), Michael Arrington (Tech Crunch), Pete Cashmore (Mashable), John Chow (John Chow), J. Shoemoney (Shoemoney), Perez Hilton (Perez Hilton), Ben Huh (Cheezeburger Network), Peter Rojas (Gizmodo), Leo Babauta (Zen Habits), and many top personal finance bloggers.

There are hundreds more that we've never heard of. Who knows, maybe even yours truly makes over $400,000 a year from my various online media properties. Learn how to start your own profitable site online today. What used to cost thousands and require employees costs next to nothing and can be set up in under 20 minutes!

Professional Blogging Income Example
A real income statement of a personal finance blogger. The earnings possibilities are endless.

TV Journalism:

Anchorwomen and men make well over $650,000 at all the major stations in all the major cities. Katie Couric sealed an eye-popping $75 million, 5 year contract for CBS. 

Political comedian, Jon Stewart from the Daily Show made around $15 million a year and has a net worth north of US$50 million. Jon makes his money making fun of politicians and rich people.

Documentary-maker, Michael Moore, has made millions from railing against the car, food, and finance industries. Oprah is the queen of them all with mega-billions.

Chris Cuomo, the fired TV host from CNN, was making $6 million a year. He was caught trying to help his brother, ex-governor Andrew Cuomo dig up dirt on one of Andrew's accusers.

Public Company Executives: 

All the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies who on average make a somewhat outrageous $10 million a year. If you include the CFOs, COOs, and all other C-level execs, we're talking about thousands who make in the multi-millions. These aren't the top 1%. These are the top 0.1%

Many Directors and VP of Fortune 500 companies all make well over $650,000. You don't have to be a C-level executive to get there.

Internet Start-Up Founders:

And then there are the founders of all the great internet/tech companies you see today: Apple, Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, Pinterest, Twitter, Google, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Zoom and so forth. They are the creators of the tools you use everyday to communicate and entertain yourself with.

Some accept only a $1 salary, but when you calculate their stock option packages, they are making in the mega millions every year. The Twitter CFO, Anthony Noto, got stock compensation worth roughly $70 million in 2017! Now he's gone ahead and become the CEO of SoFi with likely a similar impressive compensation package.

Professional Sports:

Every starting NFL player makes well over $650,000. So do all the members of every NBA team and European soccer league. Men and women who hit fuzzy green balls and whack dimply white balls earn over $650,000. It's hard for a Nascar and Indy driver not to make over $480,000.

Baseball players have incredible multi-year guaranteed contracts that make all other sports envious! Well, then there's Patrick Mahomes from the Kansas City Chiefs, who signed a 10-year contract worth $477 million starting in 2020!

Entertainment Media:

When you come home from a long days work and switch on the tube, the stars of your favorite TV sitcoms are well into the top 1%. When you take your significant other to the movies on a Saturday night to watch the highly anticipated Big Momma's House III, the actors are all in the top 1%. They entertain you and make you laugh, and you go out and support them as a result.

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person by Financial Samurai

Top 1% Income Earners Are Everywhere

Making over $650,000 a year to be a top 1% income earner is no easy feat. However, even during a global pandemic, there are plenty of top 1% income earners who are cleaning up.

They have worked hard to get to where they are. Many of them employ thousands of the rest of us 99%. Many of them entertain us with their movies, or their witty morning banter. Some of us even fix our broken bones or mend our melancholy hearts.

Even more top 1% income earners donate a significant amount to charity. We should probably say “thank you” to the top 1% instead of eviscerating.

Do you want to be in the top 1%? It will take a lot of hard work and creativity that's for sure. One good step is to try and make a top 1% income by age. This way, you'll have good income goals to shoot for along the way to $650,000+.

Top 1% Income To Top 1% Net Worth

The top 1% are no different from you and me. They are the kid raising her hand in the front of the class. The top 1% is the scrawny 8th grader who plays JV baseball, but never varsity.

The top 1% join you in causes and vote along side of you. They still have to wait in line at the security check-in and sit in middle seats. The top 1% die from cancer and eat more than they should. The top 1% have loved ones.

Some may have caught a lucky break, while others just inherited it all. Those who didn't earn their way to the top 1% are a minority. We can't all get to the top 1%, but we can all certainly try.

Once you achieve a top 1% income, it's time to get to a top 1% net worth of $13,000,000 or more. Once you have both, then you're really balling out!

Top one percent income and top one percent net worth target chart

Recommendations To Build Wealth

1) Track your finances like a hawk.

Sign up for Empower, the web's #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software.

In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms.

I've been using Empower since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Retirement Planning Calculator
Personal Capital's amazing Retirement Planning Calculator. How are your results?

2) Invest in real estate. 

Every top 1% income earner with a top one percent net worth I know has a healthy real estate portfolio. Real estate is a great way to build recurring passive income and build great wealth as asset values inflate over time. Real estate alone has made me millions since I started investing in 2003.

Check out Fundrise and their eREITs. eREITs give investors a way to diversify their real estate exposure with lower volatility compared to stocks. Income is completely passive and there is much less concentration risk. For most people, diversifying in an eREIT is a great way to go.

If you are bullish on the demographic shift towards lower-cost and less densely populated areas of the country, check out CrowdStreet. CrowdStreet focuses on individual commercial real estate opportunities in 18-hour cities.

18-hour cities have lower valuations, higher cap rates, and generally faster growth rates. If you have more capital behind, you can build your own select real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet.

Both platforms are free to sign up and explore. I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding across 18 deals to diversify my expensive San Francisco real estate holdings.

Below is my latest real estate crowdfunding dashboard that shows $810,000 invested and $624,270 distributed so far. Making money passively and diversifying across the heartland is great.

private real estate investment dashboard - top 1% top one percent income earner

3) Invest In Private Growth Companies

Finally, consider investing in private growth companies through an open venture capital fund. Companies are staying private for longer, as a result, more gains are accruing to private company investors. Finding the next Google or Apple before going public can be a life-changing investment. 

Check out the Innovation Fund, which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI!

The investment minimum is also only $10. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. You can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. Traditional venture capital funds require capital commitment first and then hope the general partners will find great investments.

The Top 1% Income Earners save aggressively and invest their savings wisely. With inflation elevated, the top 1% income will easily be above $500,000 soon. If you want to make a top one percent income, subscribe to my free weekly newsletter. 60,000+ people have since 2009.

262 thoughts on “Who Are The Top 1% Income Earners?”

  1. I make alot of money, i give away alot of money and i make more money and give away even more money. Cant tell you why this works but its pretty amazing!! I think ill keep it up!!

  2. “For what is MY experience, those who become rich often do so by stealing from others!”

    Now I don’t know how it works in America, but Italy is the home of scams.

    We have 70% taxes, 4 times your politicians who are often under investigation and sentenced. And we have a population that’s 1/5 of yours.

    Even in the “world of financial education”, we have that charlatan of “Alfio Bardolla”, who translates and sells for € 3,000 information that can be found for free by Robert Kiyosaki on the Internet.

    And like him there are so many others of charlatan trainers. Who sells Dan Kennedy’s pirate courses (and who pass that information on as their own). Because in Italy we do not know English.

    And then the company of Alfio Bardolla (Arnold Coffea) which is a copy of Starbucks, is bankrupt.

    “Eh, but Alfio Bardolla teaches you how to get rich” ahahahha.

    I could talk for hours, hours, hours of the fact that honestly no one has ever been enriched. There are VERY few cases!

  3. I read most of the comments here and I have seen so much pro-captialist pro-1% propaganda plastered around here, I cannot understand why any well educated person would continue reading this blog’s comments. Someone claiming to be part of the 1%, how is it possible when their English writing skills are so poor, so inferior, basic and child-like grammar. How pathetic. Why didn’t their greedy parents not bother to send the best private tutors they could buy and bring them to their door step to teach their whiny spoiled brat kids how to properly write in grammatically correct English? I guess wealth doesn’t always mean you’re the brightest crayon in the box, doesn’t it. Most wealth is not earned, at least it isn’t possible in a single life time. What consists of the 1% is not clearly defined in this blog. The truth most wealth is inherited, period. If you truly want to be part of the 1%, you either have to inherit it or marry into it. Both scenarios are nearly impossible for 99% of the world’s population.

    1. I haven’t read all the comments but probably they are mostly pro-market and pro-capitalist. And why not? a Free market economy is what has made this country prosperous. It is the system that lifted Europe, East Asia and most recently China out of poverty. What alternative is there to a free market economy that will help entire nations? NONE. Secondly, for the record, English is my 3rd language, meaning I came to the US without knowing how to speak English as a teen. So maybe some of the bad writing you see is due to the fact some of us are not even born or raised here. Third, the top 1% is defined as $400K annual household income OR about $6 million in net assets. That level of wealth is attainable by everyone in this country given the right set of skills and arguably some luck. I made my first million during the early years of the internet boom because I quit my sales job and decided to go into business on my own. Later, I made even more on my second and current e-commerce business which I started with a grand total of $200 but armed with the knowledge of how the internet works. While some people use the web for facebook, troll, argue, etc. I used it as a tool to make money. So yes, the American dream is alive and well and you shouldn’t doubt it nor fall for that far left propaganda. And for the record, I came to the US with nothing, finished my degree at a no-name University as an International Student and worked hard and smart all my life. So if I can do it, any person who is born here (and has the luxury of educational grants, financial aid, welfare, etc) can definitely do it.

    2. “The truth most wealth is inherited, period. If you truly want to be part of the 1%, you either have to inherit it or marry into it. ”

      This is incorrect. Most millionaires (96+% or so are self-made). Please refer to ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ and ‘Everyday Millionaires’.

      Writing well is not an indicator of success or smarts.

      1. So we all come here and lie. 60% inherited wealth is accurate. No body is self made. Everyone I’ve ever know or read about gets help. The self made are thief’s and liars. Certainly many at the bottom give up. But once you know the odds are forever against you why struggle just to be cheated in the end?

    3. Spoken like a true total loser in life. My grammar skills suck, I have a fowl mouth, i have to ask people how to spell words if I dont have my phone and still…… I made just short of $500,000 last year with an expectation of making around $100,000 more this year,( no matter the economy) and i could teach anyone how to do it. All it takes is hard work and giving up everything short of your soul.

  4. Mohammad ghanem

    This is a great article! I am chrrently working in an entry level engineering tech position (government) and am in the process of assesing all the options available to me. Entrepreneurism definately has the highest cieling plus the reality that you control your destiny. I know it will not be easy. It will be a culmination of a life long dream of achieving my dreams. Much respect to yourself financial samurai for what you do and all of the 1% ers who have earned their income or have managed to take their inheritence and increase it. I realize self determination and creativity will be extremely important in this journey ( these have been some of my weak points previousy ). Wish me luck! I have just stumbled across your site and I am very impressed by your content, will stay tuned!

    1. First, you need to learn to write. More important, you need to lesrn to spell. You may have an important degree from an expensive school, but language skills are irreplaceable.

      1. What a clown I have createdm next he will be teaching us how to spell with the letter s – Joohn is one o

  5. I’ve been in the top 1% more or less since I left my corporate sales job in 2002 at 30 and started selling stuff online. Nowadays I work about 20 hours per week and bring in about 400K per year not including my rent/dividend income. The internet is the best thing ever!

  6. Great post! My wife and I make just of 500k per year.. We make money from the internet and have multiple revenue streams. Think “consulting”. :) It took us about 5 years to go from negative revenue to where we are now. We work from home and have a lot of flexibility. It still can be pretty stressful though..

    Still trying to figure out the best way to invest the money. ~6% per year seems painfully slow. Any ideas to move things along a bit faster?

  7. I left my name anonymous so people wouldnt track me or my company……. but i make $400,000 a year & i knock door to door. I am a high school drop out. Earning a high income has nothing to do with your credentials honestly…. how many jobs can you think of that start out at $400k a year? I couldn’t tell you one, But i can tell you that people like myself, earning a high income in this regard all have a common mindset of growing and multiplying themselves with recruiting and training others to follow… or they are amazing at retaining clients… such as my brother whom is a plastic surgeon funny enough :) 80% of all millionaires in the US are entrepreneurs, and this is for a reason. Think outside of the box… if you are working how people tell you to work… they will earn more than you always, think about it.

  8. Pingback: When Did Being Rich Become So Evil? | Financial Samurai

  9. To become a cardiologist, it’s 14 (not 11) years of post high school training. Then, 1 or 2 additional years for interventional or electrophysiology.

  10. Pingback: The State Of The Union Address 2015 Cheat Sheet | Financial Samurai

  11. Money is the root of evil. It is the sum total of your desires quantified by central banks on your slave planet. if you want to be in the top 1% you better give away ALL of your money or you will inherit an eternity of pain. HAHAHAHA! Yes struggle to gleefully live in the 1% ignore me, inherit hell for eternity. Yes, very wise indeed.

    1. . “The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.” Is the words in the Christian Bible. What kind of God are you?

  12. Giving freely is the secret sauce of abundance. Below is Andrew Carnegie’s view on what being wealthy is all about. I have lived by this for 34 years and it has not failed me. May you soak it in and apply it to your own lives.

    Andrew Carnegie’s Spirit Speaks:
    This then is held to be the duty of the man of wealth. First: to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him, and after doing so, to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is strictly bound as a matter of duty, to administer in the manner which in his judgment is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community.

    The man of wealth must become a trustee and agent for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer. Those who would administer wisely must indeed be wise. For one of the serious obstacles to the improvement of our race is indiscriminate charity. It were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy.

    In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who help themselves. It provides part of the means by which those who desire to improve may do so; to give to those who desire to rise the aids by which they may rise; to assist but rarely or never to do all.

    He is the only true reformer who is careful and as anxious not to lead the unworthy as he is to lead the worthy, and perhaps even more so, for in alms giving, more injury may be done by promoting vice than by relieving virtue. Thus, is the problem of the rich and poor to be solved.

    The laws of accumulation should be left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue. But the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season with a part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it did, or would have done, of itself. The best in minds will thus have reached a stage in the development of the race in which it is clearly seen that there is no mode of disposing of surplus wealth creditable to thoughtful and earnest men into whose hands it flows save by using it year-by-year for the general good. This day already dawns.

    Men may die without incurring the pity of their fellows, sharers in great business enterprises from which their capital cannot be, or has not been withdrawn, upon which is left entirely a trust for public uses.

    Yet the day is not far distant when the man who dies, leaving behind him millions of available wealth, which was free for him to administer during life, will pass away “unwept, unhonored, and unsung,” no matter to what use he leaves the dross which he cannot take with him. Of such as these, the public verdict will then be: the man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced. Such in my opinion is the true gospel concerning wealth, obedience to which is destined someday to solve the problems of the rich and the poor, to hasten the coming brotherhood of man, and at last to make our earth a heaven.

  13. How much you earn isn’t as important to getting wealthy as is HOW MUCH YOU KEEP and turn into income producing assets.

    ANYONE, 1% or not, can improve their financial life by following the basics:
    >>Set Long-term Financial Goals
    >>>>Using the SMARTER system
    >>Set Short-Term Goals (Milestones)
    >>Track (and Audit) Expenses
    >>Develop and Follow a Spending Plan (aka budget)
    >>Automate Finances
    >>>>Both Savings and Spending
    >>Review and Revise Progress and Plans

    My 2 cents… Leah, the MoneyDiva.com

  14. Sam- the following is music to my ears: “Why are we trying to hunt them down? They have worked hard to get to where they are and many of them employ thousands of the rest of us 99%. Many of them entertain us with their movies, or their witty morning banter. Some of us even fix our broken bones. Even more donate a significant amount to charity. Shouldn’t we say “thank you” to the top 1% instead of eviscerating them?”

    Your article perfectly illustrates the diverse population that makes up the 1%. Too many people are too misinformed and quick to judge- or envy- a population that does a lot of good.

  15. Add to your list white collar middle management couples in every major PROSPEROUS North American city.

    Add to your list commercial or residential real estate sales couples in every major PROSPEROUS North American city.

    Add to your list most any ass kicking tech or online advertising salesperson in every major PROSPEROUS North American city.

  16. I’m 24 years old. I’m a 1% income earner. Last month I earned $77,577.50 in income (after all expenses and paying partners, before taxes), averaging over 40k a month for the year, so this is the first year I’ll be officially in the 1%. Last year I made 134k in income from my business. 2 years ago I made 78k. 3 years ago I was barely getting by in college. I own an internet business, and started it 3 years ago while still in school. I used student loan money that was to pay for my apartment in college to start this business. I worked when friends were partying, and I challenged everything that I was told about making money and being financially secure. Although I’m not a millionaire yet (only 24, and I’m not including the value of my share of the business in my net worth, which could make me a millionaire on paper), I am definitely on the path of becoming a .5%, or even .01% earner soon. I come from a very poor family and paid for everything since I was 16 years old – first car, college, phone, health insurance etc. I’ll pay six figures this year in taxes, but I’d much prefer giving it back to my family than the government. I don’t waste time complaining, it’s not productive. I’d rather work harder to make more money or enjoy life.

    I hear a lot of complaining and pointing fingers waiting for the world to change. Don’t be mad if you were lied to that your education should secure you a good job. That’s not how the world works and that’s not how to make more money. It pretty much boils down to this:

    1. Need – It still amazes me about college graduates complaining that they spent so much money on a degree and don’t make enough money. Follow your “passion” to make money is a myth. No one is going to pay you because you enjoy it. They pay you because you fill a need. Period. Little demand for your service = little pay for your service.

    2. Entry – If the barriers to entry for your position are low, then the pay will also be low. If someone can be taught how to do your job in a matter of a few days, then you can’t reasonably expect to have much bargaining power over how much you make. If you start a business that anyone can start, then you are opening yourself up to a ton of competition and this will likely cause your profits to drop trying to compete.

    3. Control – Want to get the most secure job in the world? Own a business. There you control the variables, don’t have to worry about getting fired and can influence how much you make because you have control over the bottom line. Too scared to do this? Then don’t complain when you get fired because you don’t have control. I have contracts with clients lasting several years or more. That’s security.

    4. Time – If you are paid based on your time, then you only make more money by doing 1 of 2 things – increasing time worked (# of hours if you are paid per hour, # of years if you have a salary) or how much you make per unit of time ($/hour, $/year). How reasonable is it to ask your boss for a 100% increase in pay next year? How reasonable is it to work 24 hours/day for a year? How reasonable is it to work for 100 straight years? Not very. So you are very limited in how much you can influence those 2 factors. But with a business, you separate time from how much you make by influencing 2 units that don’t depend on time: # of products (or services) sold x $profit per product. Much easier to influence these variables. Every successful business follows this type of formula. By the way, if you start a business that depends on your time, then it’s still a job. If you can take a month off and your business will still continue to do well, then you own a REAL business. I took 2 weeks vacation last month and made the most that I’ve ever made in a month. That’s because it’s separate from my time…as a business owner you should create processes and systems that allow your business to run itself. That opens up scale and creates freedom. All of my work is put into growing my business, not maintaining it.

    Want to know why doctors are paid a lot? They satisfy need and entry. Want to know why some businesses fail and some succeed? The ones that fail lack a principle (or principles) from above. The ones that succeed satisfy all of them.

    There you have it. That’s how you make money. No more excuses. Peace.

    1. I agree with everything you say but this one thing:

      “If you start a business that anyone can start, then you are opening yourself up to a ton of competition and this will likely cause your profits to drop trying to compete.”

      I’m 24 this year, actually, and I’ve just finished acquiring my 3rd business. Each of these businesses could be started by anyone tomorrow and could be done with very little training. That’s actually why I bought them, because they’re pretty much turnkey from day one. However, at this point in time, I’m only operating in industries where the work required is something that very very few people would ever consider as a real career path. Think DIRTY work. And…the people that would….don’t have the capital available to start anything. I could be the exception, but this has worked well for several years so far and there’s no real hint of any competition now or coming down the pipeline.

    2. I think you’re on point here. My uncle is a self-made millionaire who came from very humble beginnings and put himself through college, built his business and will retire comfortably. I admire him in that way. While the field I graduated in doesn’t pay as much…graphic design/digital art…I know people who make $8/hr with college degree to $75k/yr…I know there are ways to burst through that canopy, if one is willing. While I was still in school, I sought out opportunities to get experience in my field and bc of that I was hired directly out of college…I was a late bloomer at 33. I moved and left my husband and two kids behind while he finished his degree. He later joined me. After 3 years, I was laid off from my job last February due to departmental changes. I didn’t get unemployment bc my boss didn’t pay into the program. However I had already been looking into starting my own business in fine and custom art (a dream I often thought was impossible but wanted so badly). So in the last few months I have at least managed to replace half my employed income whilst being able to work from home and have more time with my kids. I’m getting better at managing my business and advertising and now have an impressive body of work and beautiful site. I’ve put in many hours over and beyond what I did in my employed position, but I don’t mind it bc its mine, I run the show, and I will determine the success. I create the brand and set the prices, policies, and choose my clients. It’s scary but also exciting! My goal this year is to completely replace my employed income and then set new goals. I’m 37 and no where near the 1% right now…but I don’t mind. And I don’t mind those who are…I think as long as any person feels they are serving their purpose then it’s great! Do what you do. And if you want more then work more…and take a risk, but use wisdom.:-)

    3. Congrats. Hard work and the right business definitely pays off. Thank you for sharing. I think the hardest thing for some who do work hard and dream of having their own successful business is finding the right business. I wish there was more people like you who could mentor those that have a hard work ethic but just need some great mentoring along the way.

  17. well its not all dandy and happy in a lot of cases. Here are some of the top earners who go broke. Now this is just one category, focusing on some of the top paid pro athletes. Many names you will recognize.

    This goes to show you, it does not matter how much you make, its about how much you can save and invest wisely! Sure you could millions every year, but bad financial decisions can have you broke by the time you want to retire if you don’t play your cards right.

      1. I love how strong you defend the 1% as if the 99% are crying because we want everything you have but don’t want to work for it. The issue is that we the workers working for businesses you make are YOUR business! We serve your customers and make your products and do the hard physical labor! We aren’t demanding to magically become part of the 1%! We work hard to and the pay isn’t enough to live on. You talk about how hard you worked how much you missed and that life isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is interested in being extremely wealthy. Many people are content working hard @40 hours a week and spending their time embracing life and spending time with their children so they don’t miss out on their childhoods. Yes hard work consuming your life can make you money and some people that is living! For the rest of us we simply want to work hard but rather consume our lives with love and family. Why should we get paid crap when we work hard! Who is supposed to raise kids? Daycare? This fight isn’t picking on people earning 300,000 paying taxes and employing workers, this fight is to the very top eating up small businesses and hoarding ridiculous amounts of money instead of putting back into our economy so the rest of us can work hard, enjoy our family and lives, and not kill ourselves with stress because the pay is so low that utilities, rent, and food are more than our paychecks! Plus the idea that everyone can get an education or start a business or even work 40hrs leaves out a huge group of people that have mental and physical disabilities. These people know that their limitations will limit opportunity for wealth but should it mean that they have to live with nothing? Give those people food and care and stop blaming them for having problems. If one of you suddenly had brain damage and couldn’t work and a bigger shark takes your business you would be here with us.

        1. I think the media has thoroughly commented on “the 99%.” We all understand that it is HARD to get ahead for many people. The median net worth has gone nowhere in decades, for example.

          To be good citizens, I think it’s always good to see the other side of the story. Do we need another post bashing the top 1%? Do people realize they are really talking about the top 0.1% instead?

          See these posts:

          Getting By Off $200,000 A Year
          Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working Minimum Wage Jobs

          1. Thank you for pointing out that it is actually the .001%, NOT the .1% that is literally stealing their wealth through money manipulation not hard work. Lol big difference. And yes that 99% work their asses off and give up the majority of their lives for someone else’s interests so they should at least make enough that they can put clothes on their backs food on the table and a roof over their head and not to mention enough money to pay for the vehicle and gas to get them to work and back plus the insurance that if they don’t buy they will get fined and lose their license. #Riggedsystem

  18. You use $380K as the threshhold for top 1% income. I would note that household income ranking tool on the Wall Street Journal blog marks $380K as top 2%. According to the blog,

    “An annual salary above $506,000 puts you in the top 1%”

  19. I am a 25 yo making 19k/month, and I’ll tell you this, it ain’t easy :)

    Most people value security. To make 30k/mth, you can’t get there working a day job.

    Most people value relationships. To make 30k/mth, being a good boyfriend, or even having a consistent relationship isnt easy.

    Society isnt setup for people to make 30k/month. Maybe 2k, 4k, or even 8-10k per month is possible if you follow the rules and work hard. You have to LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE RULES to take things to the next step. Perez Hilton didnt start a blog because somebody said this is what you do. He went off on his own. It takes balls to give up your security blanket. It takes confidence. Stop for a moment and think how awesome our country is, we’re a bunch of rule-breakers.

  20. Sweat equity

    Why hate on the 1% not only do they pay a huge amount in taxes they also hire people and pay payroll taxes on all of their employees. So when it comes to business owners don’t just look the the % they pay on their personal income. Look at personal income plus business taxes, taxes associated with employees, equipment taxes and the list goes on. If the IRS raises taxes on this group of people aka small business what you will see is investment in people and equipment drop sharply. As a small business owner I am the last person to receive payment from the company, we are very successful but there are still times that we go months without a paycheck due to payroll, payroll taxes, social security, unemployment tax, material from our vendors, utilities, fuel, capital equipment and after all that is paid then our bill from the IRS arrives. As a business sometimes the profit you make takes six months for it to be realized after everything. It is disturbing to see people hate on people that take on so much risk and others feel that they should pay more than they already do in taxes.

    “The government is not the solution, the government is the problem”

    – Ronald Reagan

    I don’t believe our country has a revenue problem I believe we have a spending problem.

    1. Nope. Huge taxes? There are loopholes. Warren Buffett pays less taxes than his secretary and his secretary doesn’t even make six figures. Our president now, Trump, isn’t required to pay taxes as he lost money during a business. I do agree we do have a spending problem, but, if you are frugal enough, you can have a happy retirement, and if that’s not successful, then what is?

      1. The wealthy pay almost all the taxes. There are very few Warren Buffett’s out there and the only reason he pays little in taxes is he doesn’t pay himself a salary since he doesn’t need the money. His company pays huge amounts in taxes.

        The bigger problem is that middle class pays so little in income taxes, much lower than the 1980’s

        1. Very few people understand the financial requirements to use the so called “loop holes” . Only the Uber wealthy …multi millionaires can even consider these tax advantages . The infamous “off shore accounts ” require Large sums of spendable cash . The vast majority of those in the “villainous ” 2 or 1 percent are just hard working Americans that shoulder the bulk of the tax bill in this Country .

          1. Yes! Jennifer you are so right and this is never in the dialogue. The 1% of earners who are W2’d pay a total of 40-50% in state and federal income taxes. Their write-off’s are all minimized via AMT and Pease limitations. They experience excessive marriage penalties that often drive one spouse (typically highly educated women) to opt out of the workforce.

            Only med-low income earners or those uber-rich who’s earnings are most “passive” income pay low rates.

      2. There is no such thing as loopholes when talking about taxes. People who think there are “loopholes” when talking about taxes are very simpleminded individuals.
        The tax law is hundreds of pages long. Our elected officials have created that mess, then want to claim “loophole”.
        Here’s a thought… Simplify the tax code so I don’t need to pay my CPA $5,000 a year just to give money to the government, then I’ll give you your “loophole”.

  21. Look, I have to laugh at all of the people on this forum who loath the one percenters. It isn’t as if we don’t know how the market works! It isn’t as if education, regardless of field, will always pau off. I.e. who would pay.one hundred grand a year for someone with no credentials other than a masters degree in Art history from a state college? When they could get a decent computer programmer for 80,000 a year or two accountants for 100,000? I find no quirks with being an employee (good stability, if your half decent in a desired field) and don’t get me wrong everyone can excell in some desired field, the trouble is identifying it before its too late! For example, if you like talking to people become a psychologist, if you enjoy science become a doctor,surgron, or engineer. If you like math, become an actuarian. If you like Englis, history and polotics become a lawyer, etc. even if your passion is something COMPLETELY useless~ become a proffessor! But make NO mistake! All fields require working harder than you can imsgine, competing with a dozen other people, and skill and experiences beyond the other candidates. The thing is though, that in order to stay ncially stable you will always have to live within a budget regardless of how much or how little it is. To get rich is a completely different, and risky, story though. There are many ways to get wealthy~ but ALL require hard work and a different type of thinking than the rest of society. Firstly, invest wisely. There are people who are now millionares because they bought stock in apple when it was down.I, even, know people who became millionares without a highschool education! They did NOT get rich with working as an employee though! Start a company, ride the recession back up by investing in realestate (im talking appartment complexes in the middle of cities, hotels in attractive areas, or bars in areas that will lilely start devoloping onve it recovers. One thing is for sure though, the routes of getting rich are also the ways to loosing everything~ if it were easy than everyone would do it.Oh, and another thing! Get your finger out of your @$$ and stop feeling entitled!!!!

  22. Somehow you determined or researched the salary number $380,000 and above as the 1% group, and you said these people are all around us–everywhere. I think not. By definition, every one person in a hundred is in this group, so if a thousand people are with me in stadium section B, then ten people are in this high salary group. They must be grouped together because none are around me.

    Would you please give me your reference source so I may know how many average Joes are around me and so I may know what is salary range of average Joes. My perception (in a non-union region) is 80% are making up to $100,000 and about half of them are below $50,000. I would like to have perception changed into reality.

  23. FYI to all the mouth-breathers:
    Occupy’s term 1% doesn’t refer to YOU! It’s a rhetorical slogan that refers to those who are BUYING our politicians, making them prostitutes for the most elite and unaccountable corporations, ensuring continual crises and war-spending. Get a clue.

  24. @Shawanda
    money money money….stop chasing the green printed paper, its not real. take advantage of what little time you have here and experience as much as possible….life is so short

  25. Nickolas M. Connery

    What I found interesting is how LITTLE money you actually have to earn in a year to be counted among the “top 1%” of earners. According to this article, my boss is it the top 1%, and she’s just a Paralegal Manager. I’m a mid-level Paralegal, and yet I count among the top 25%!!

    It isn’t the top 1% of earners, or even the top 0.1% of earners (those who make a few million or so) whose absurd wealth is worthy of condemnation, but the top 0.0001%, those who bring in hundreds of millions, or billions of dollars, and who routinely corrupt our system and can bend the rules that the rest of us must live by. These are the people whose influence in our society should somehow be curtailed.

    To focus popular anger on the top 1% only serves to turn lower-level workers against middle managers who probably work as hard as they do, while ignoring the “royalty” at the very top who are really pulling all the strings.

  26. Charles Kiyimba

    We all have the potential to become wealthy if we visualize what we want in life, focus on achieving it. Nobody is born to live a life of mediocrity. But what makes people to live ordinary life is their mind. If you focus your mind on getting what you want to achieve and work on it every day, you can achieve. Thanks a lot for this wonderful and motivating article.

  27. first of all, let us think why those 1% make so much money and where does the money comes from. usually these are the people who own a business, making products or selling products. some are the presidents or chacellors of the universities. true certainly they work hard, but one should ask whether that hard work or money they make turn into the following:
    1. people are healthier
    2. people are happier
    3. people are more educated
    4. the society becomes crimeless
    5. the world becomes more peaceful and no need of defense and offense
    if none of these are being reached, what is the point of making so much money?

  28. this article is exactly the kind coming out of someone who has little to no clue what the world is run. he/she has no understanding of how the mind works. our society is largely misled by the blind who think they know how to live a life. check out Jacque Fresco’s idea. that is what i consider a truly advanced human mind. as long as there is mighty military force, police force, lawyers, gangsters and politicians (the only difference between politicians and gangsters is that politicians normally dont kill their enemies with guns, but with mouths and pens) we see today, we are no better than chimpazees, the only difference is that we can make things like computers, etc.

    1. “our society is largely misled by the blind who think they know how to live a life.”
      So you wish to decide how they should live a life or does someone else decide? Who determines how one should live their life? How many die in the war because they disagree with whomever decides how a life should be lived? Are you seriously bringing up Jacque Fresco? You mean the guy who tried tradmarking the term “Resource-based economy”. If one cannot decide how to live a life or decide what’s best for them or in other words not own their life, how can one own a word or an idea?

  29. Sick of all these clueless comments.

    You guys are all complaining about a group of people that you have “straw-manned”; they don’t exist! You’re complaining about people who protest against the top 1% in a very literal manner; people who hate people that work hard to earn their top 1% salary. There is, to my knowledge, no official group that ever furthered such ideals. In essence you guys are all grossly ignorant of the whole point of the Occupy movement, which is to protest bigger issues about government/economics and the nature of Wall Street banking/investing. I don’t know the details of it as I am not one of THEM either, but I can tell you 1% supporters that you are definitely straw-manning the protestors.

    1. Not to mention, it is absolutely ludicrous to take the 99% and 1% literally. In that case if someone earns $375k per year they are a hard working 99% and all of a sudden they get a raise and make $380k per year they are suddenly evil due to an arbitrary boolean boundary? Get a grip; people aren’t that illogical.

    2. I make alot of money, i give away alot of money and i make more money and give away even more money. Cant tell you why this works but its pretty amazing!! I think ill keep it up!!

  30. We all agree on 3 things. 1-The governments (federal, state and local) waste money. 2-We all want to pay less tax. 3-Everyone pays tax for some things they don’t support (certain wars, different types of health coverage, etc.), but that’s America.
    What’s FAIR? From a strictly arithmetic perspective, if you have 90% of the wealth, why aren’t you paying 90% of the tax. Some multi-billion dollar corporations pay NO TAX, many 1%-ers pay NO TAX. They don’t NEED the money. Contrary to the popular sound bites, there is NO EVIDENCE that corporate tax breaks create jobs, and many corporation created jobs are outside the US. The middle and lower income people are much more effected by the tax structure than the 1%. The 99% NEED their money to survive. The 1% need their money to make more money.

    1. This is such a misnomer. Every time a journalist or blogger publishes the phrase “the top 1% of income earners own 90% of the country’s wealth,” I want to choke them. Short economics lesson: Wealth is not the same thing as money. You and everyone else keep using these two terms interchangeably and it doesn’t make any sense. 100% of the country’s money is owned by the US government. Wealth is STUFF. Real Estate, cell phones, computers, homes, cars, lawnmowers, intangible assets would fit here too, you name it. Money is the medium of exchange we use to acquire these things.

  31. There is more to the story, as there usually is. Owning several business’ some of which make money and a couple that do not and require capital infusions can cause a 1%er to have a lower than elite lifestyle. I pay taxes on more that 500k but have to prop up a business that is suffering due to the policies of this crappy administration thus struggle with this economy.

    1. Peter Nachtwey

      I understand, much of the paper income is not liquid. I must use my salary to pay taxes on money I really don’t have yet.

  32. I came to the beatiful and wonderful USA forty years ago. No money, no English or parents. Worked 10 to 12 hours a day six days a week pumping gas and fixing flat tires. At night, I went to shcool. I wanted to be someone one day. I did not know the difference between 1% vs. 99% income earners. My goals were to finish school, get a better job, make more money, have a car and of course, a home with a family. I have been very fortunate to meet all my goals. Currently, I own a company that provides income and benefits for other 20 families. With the exception of couple of employees most of them are in the 99% income earners. However, they are so thankful to have jobs and benefits that they do not complaint. They work hard and come to work everyday. One day they want to be in the 1% income earners. For many years I was a 99% income earner. My first weekly pay check was $62.00 or approx. $2,976 per year. No benefits at all. The American dream is very much alive. I am an example of the American dream. I am proud to be an Amercian living in the USA and be one of the 1% income earner.

  33. To all these nasty comments targeting the 1% I have to say we try hard to make it here. My Parents were raised in lower middle class families and worked hard to be in the 1%. My dad alone makes around 400000 a year but only because he works stressful 14 hour days just to be able to provide for my family. A top 1% person needs to be able to handle the stress. I am sure only the one percent Person has a job this stressful. By no means is my family rich. We struggle like the rest of the country. Living in one of the most expensive towns in America (we live here because this is were the 1% jobs are) sometimes it is hard to make ends meet. It is really unfair to the 1% that we are being stereotyped as mean etc. we employ a lot of the 99% from the businesses we own. No one but my family knows we are in the 1% only because the way we would be treated is awful. We fight for the 99%! My parents have talked about going to one of the protests! It is not all of the 1% that is crazy. Just like in the 99% some people are crazy some aren’t it is like that everywhere And craziness is determined by the viewer. If people new I was in the 1% I would be viewed as a horrible person, but because People don’t know this I’m not viewed that way.

    1. 400,000 a year is the bottom earning of the 1%. what the government should tax the most should be those who make >1M a year. The tax rate should continue to rise up to 95% for those who makes > 20M a year. After the tax, they still have at least 1M net into their pocket. this is far more than enough to live a decent life even in the most expensive place. also why should someone in a family of ~5 live in a mansion enough for 100 people. didn’t we get rid of kings/queens so that the world belongs to everyone, and yet we still strive for living like a king/queen? (many countries still keep their kings/queens as a symbol of corruption) certain things in life should not be capped, such as knowledge and research and education. but certain things should be capped, such as how much one should make and spend on useless things.

      1. If the Govt taxed 95% then who in the world would even try to achieve? As it is already, the lower class makes out better by not working or even trying to better their situation. Many people believe (myself included) perhaps a way to help the situation of the low lower class would be to maybe teach them to fish rather than giving them the fish everyday.

      2. Why does anyone get upset when someone who earns significant amounts of money goes out and spends it? If someone buys three Ferraris, then he has to pay for someone to service them, wash them, etc. Do you realize how many business receive revenue from people who spend their wealth? It would be terrible for everyone if wealthy people hoarded their money.

        This is ‘Murica where anyone can be wealthy but there’s a formula for it and it is freely available online in countless places. Most people have no ambition to earn wealth. There’s nothing wrong with it but there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy either.

        If people are being taken advantage of, that needs to be addressed. However, we need to properly identify those people. Being poor financially is not a final determination of qualifying for non-discriminatory help.

        My parents had to go on food stamps when they first came to the US. They were both educated and both learned the language. However, they has to wait on tables and wash cars to make ends meet and get off government assistance. They squeezed into the corporate world, worked their tails off and earn decent money and gave my sisters and I an education.

        Now we are in top 1-3%s. The reality that can go away quicker than it took to get here so please keep a perspective.

  34. First let me say that I am one of the 1%, As many others on this blog have commented, they became part of the 1% by hard work and sacrifice and so did I. It always amazes me that so many people only look at were someone is today and do not take into account what it took to get them there. Personally I wanted the better things in life so I decided to work while my friends were out having fun, when my friends went to spend the weekend at the lake I looked for additional work to do, when my friends came by to show me their new cars that I knew they really couldn’t afford, I just smiled and said nice. I used my own money I had saved during this period to start my own business and really learned what hard work was. I worked from 7 in the morning to 11 at night 7 days a week for over 3 years just trying to get my company up and running. I used to park my crappy car around the corner so my employees did not see what I drove, for the first 5 years in business all of my employees made more money then me. when things started to click and I started actually making some money I kept he crappy car, and the way undersized house so I could invest that money into growing the business. I did this for years while I saw other people driving nice cars, taking nice vacations and going out to have fun on the weekends. I did this by choice so I could provide a better future for myself and my kids (which I missed out on a lot of their childhoods) and that has got me to were I am today, I employ about 300 people who all make a descent living, and I pay millions of dollars in taxes every year ( about 38%). I have done what I have done with no help from the government, none needed, or wanted. So I have to say I know that hard work and sacrifice is what gets you to the 1% so to those who are not willing to do what I have done you have no right to condemn me. Traditional wisdom has always said ,You reap what you sow. So remember if you want to see who is responsible for you particular circumstance then all you have to do is look in the mirror.

  35. I’m not in the 1% but I don’t care. There have been legitimate scientific studies and surveys that show that only 10% of peoples happiness comes from materialistic items and money. With that being said, happiness comes from the people you surround yourself with. For instance look at Hollywood stars. They have a lot of money, a lot of cars, and nice houses. However… most of them are constantly attending rehabs due to drug abuse, most of them end up wasting all of their money on materialistic items, and in interviews some of them have stated that they “hate” the life they have. So come on everyone, it’s not about how much money you have, what car you drive, or how big your house is. Be happy with the life you have, and if you don’t like it here in the U.S, go to a different country and see how it works out for you. If you truly want to be in the 1% then get up at 5am everyday and work as hard as you can at whatever you do (companies notice hard working people). I’m not even 21 yet and have been offered countless promotions in my current career because I am early everyday, work at 200%, and always have a smile on my face(I happily declined the promotions due to being a full time student). It will not only make you a better, more responsible person, but you will feel accomplished and proud of earning every dollar instead of getting it handed to you.

  36. @Shawanda

    I am a 32 year old male filing single, just got my W-2 , made $150,000 roudning to the nearest dollar) in 2011, I’m in the area of finance and capital allocation. I live in a smaller southern city (relative) about 100,000 residents in a 30 mile radius. ABSOLUTLEY, I WOULD GLADLY PAY MORE TAXES; I reliaze I am not in the top 1% , but most likely top 6 % of year over year wage earners. The 5 % left above me are not paying their fair share, BUT it is based on current tax code and they are law-abiding citizens. My theory is simple- WE ALL PITCH IN. If my taxes rise to a 35 % tax bracket or even a new bracket of 32%0 I am all for it! The idea here is not to fight but have a better life for EVERYONE. -A better life for the man on the park bench that cant find work, the elderly grandmother, whomever… I am in the top 6 % and I’m saying RAISE MY TAXES- too many people are hurting and it would be nice if some of the the 10% NOT just the 1% could all pay a few percantage points more to keep public parks open, create more public jobs and not enable others but ensure the tax reveneue ends up where it can improve everyones life.

    See…… the real problem in my opinion ( remember the old saying BTW, “opinions” are like A**holes, everyone’s got one”- so please no bashing. Who can manage the tax revenue in a way that ensures life does improve for the average/ lower 50 % and action is take to bring America back to greatness? The question will come is govt. better or corporate- GOP vs DEMS.- the divide is growing deeper.

    The top, I started FROM NOTHING, no silver spoon and I worked my behind off- but NOT everyone is capable of working the same, or has the same talents that will put them in the top 1% or 6%, etc. bottom line, raise my taxes- bring back the USA we lost…

    1. If your belief is, “we all pitch in,” Shouldn’t we start from the bottom 40-57% who aren’t pitching in and paying no federal income taxes? Even just $500 a year from each would help our country greatly.

      1. I don’t think you realize how much 500$ is to someone who makes very little. Those people are already forced to live paycheck to paycheck, so 500$ is insane. I understand and agree with your article, but making the really low income people is not the answer. The real issue is that people in the lower part of the “top 1%” make way way way less than other people they also get grouped with, like billionaires (who often pay very little in taxes). People earning 400k a year shouldn’t be grouped with multimillionaires and billionaires.

        1. Juststarting

          I agree $500 may seem like a lot and nearly impossible to the low income level Americans but it’s all about finances there is always ways to save money but the reality is that most lower class people don’t choose to or know how to save and in return are living paycheck to paycheck.

          1. Then I guess it would make sense to stop making excuses for people and start focusing on how to educate them and give them the proper resources to be able to excel. It’s cute you sympathize with the poor but in the same sense it’s insulting that you treat them like children lacking ability to do anything for themselves. STOP making excuses and start encouraging people to find strength, confidence and skill to lead a better life. This is America! Its a beautiful country full of opportunity and we are slowly taking that away by pushing socialist views on everyone. High taxes take away ambition, drive, innovation, creation and individuality. Say NO to socialism!!!!

            1. Juan Gabriel

              Well said Sister @Stephanie!

              Socialism would really be the end of America, after all although taxes are crucial for a thriving civilization. Too much of it, could also mean the end of it! For decades now the top 0.01% has been moving their resources, wealth and industries to lower taxed regions of the world, just to save their empires. And no I don’t agree with big corps running away from their founding country, but Big Government and higher taxes is not the answer. If we start educating one another on making, better informed decisions about how do we manage the little that we have, we would definitely comeback to being the America the World once Admired and Loved. After all our constitution reads “WE THE PEOPLE” not we the “IRS” nor we the “FEDS”.

        2. Multi-millionaires shouldn’t be grouped in with billionaires. The difference between a million and a billion is a planet vs. an entire solar system.

    2. Pitch in for what? More WAR???? Get your sense together all your tax money goes towards is bombing kids in pakistan and starting more WARS. 53% of government spending goes to war.

  37. Hi Sam, I have enjoyed the comments related to the great article you put together. I am an evil 1%er. As a neuroanesthesiologist, I went through 17 years of post high school education. Yes that is 17! I am blessed with a loving wife who stuck through it all with me and two healthy children. When I see the protesters I am torn… When in grad school there was a protest walking down the mall. My lab partner and I could see several pretty girls in the crowd so we looked at each other, smiled, and said “Let’s go protest!” We got a picture in the school paper yet knew nothing about what we were protesting! Idiocy of youth.
    Yesterday had lunch with a friend who from scratch built a company with 1000+ employees. He drove his new Ferrari. I asked what the OWS protestors would say about his new car. He replied “They should ask some of my employees families if they felt he should give up, quit, lock the doors, and get rid of the car, and fire them all.”
    I hate being considered the villain, but it is in my nature to work hard. Everyday I wake up thinking of ways to do my work better than I did the day before.
    Maybe I should stop caring about “The People”. I have enough to quit. My friend and I could expatriate, fire our employees, move to Costa Rica, and worry about which wine to have with dinner……But who would be there when the OWS protester gets the emergency call that his mother ruptured her brain aneurysm at two in the morning? Don’t worry, I will be there, but stop vilifying me.

    1. Being in the 1% requires sacrifice and hard work. 80% of the millionaires in this country are 1st generation and the opportunities in this country are unlike any other country in the world. Most people are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to become part of the 1%. It took my wife and I 20 years of working before we became part of the 1% and now that we are, we are saving most of our money. We don’t have any boats, RV’s motorcycles or fancy homes. We earn 7 figures each year yet I have never bought a new car. In fact, my car doesn’t even have power seats. There are many 1%er’s like us that don’t show their wealth but prefer to give it to their church and leave some for their children and grandchildren.

      1. I am waiting for the ‘trickle down’ to take effect. I am certain I will be richly blessed for voting Republican for 50 years

    2. I also want to be in the top 1% what I don’t want to be is one of those who think they own the world natural resources and utilize their money to increase their wealth through the destruction of the environment. Oil companies like chevron which cause a lot of damage in Ecuador did not utilize their capital gains to clean the area, besides oil companies there are many others that lobby on a daily basis in Washington taken the power of the people away to avoid any regulations that will protect the environment as well as the bottom 99%.

  38. Late to the game, but an interesting article none-the-less.

    Minor note is that the $380,000 line is AGI for the top 1%, so unless the people described above don’t do things like put money into an IRA, their income is actually notably higher.

    More notable is that athletic directors (such as Jeff Tedford mentioned in the article) gets his money from donations, the public schools don’t pay him that money. So the title for the subsection is misleading in that regard, but the top chancellors at the top colleges do indeed earn very high salaries as stated.

    Personally, I think the wrong line was chosen in this whole argument. Most of the bottom of the top 1% are just high-end working Joes like everyone else…and, for those people, I agree with your last couple of paragraphs. However, it is more than a little naive to assume that all of us can get there just through hard work. There are only so many of those positions available, and not everyone is capable of operating at that level or can demonstrate the types of skills to get to that level. Think back to your high school class, do you *really* think every one of them was capable of being a doctor or maintaining a high level job no matter how hard they worked? Of course not.

    The line that people should be looking at should be much smaller…such as the top 0.00005%. There are only about 8,000 of them, but they report about 3% of all income averaging more than $10 million annually. Of course, they maintain substantially more than that in total wealth. Are they really doing work that is worth that much money? Of course not. Many use the holes in the system to get that kind of wealth (which is immoral, but not illegal). Others are handed that income by the board of directors who themselves are C-level executives at other companies who that person is on the board…so no real competition is involved setting high-end compensation packages for them.

    However, they are more than happy to support very minimal raises to their workers because they can get away with it…and an important factor in people getting upset. Sure they can buy stock with their free money, but when the C-level executives are being handed thousands of shares every year, you can understand their bitterness. One high level executive at my company received over $1 million in shares listed as a “gift” in the SEC filings…not even based on performance (for which I’m sure he received his salary, bonuses and additional shares). People would be even more upset if they were to learn that their “competitive” salary is not really based on the free market (at least for large corporation positions), but is actually based on corporate HR talking to other corporate HR (even their competitors)…something that is illegal when setting selling prices (explicit collusion), but not illegal when setting salaries (although certainly immoral).

    Basically, what it comes down to is that this issue is a complex discussion. People are absolutely correct that the top earners in this country are making too much. 1% is the wrong line, and it isn’t just the income that is the problem. Unfortunately, it is a number that has been latched onto, and, although not accurate, the people do have a point in their objections.

  39. David Kelley

    Hyperbole destroys arguments. I just happened to stumble on this website and was frankly shocked to see the comment about hunting down the 1%. As a member of the 1% and a business owner I don’t see class warfare in merely asking for my tax rate which is at historic lows to be raised a little. Of course it won’t even be 50% of what it was during periods of America’s greatest expansion. Isn’t it even a little patriotic to help the others in our society who helped create my wealth. Take any of us in the top 1% and put us on a desert island and we would only have what we take. We couldn’t even make a toaster. We in the top tier owe a great deal to this society and those that came before us. We wouldn’t have this without them. By “this” I mean this magnificent machine of wealth creation. And please don’t raise that argument that raising my marginal tax rate would influence the job I create. As Mark Cuban and others have pointed out. For most of us business owners that has almost no impact of any kind. Expenses in a business come out of the profits.

    I guess I am one of those people who believes that when everyone does better everyone does better. In other words, our economy hit a wall because the middle class has not created consumer demand. It is that simple. Whatever we do to help the middle class recover is essential. The recent CBO study profiles that our recent disparities in income are manufactured by policies like 15% tax rates on long term capital gains.

    Sorry but if we at the top don’t take off our blinders we will live in a society that we don’t much like where we have to retreat to our gated communities. To me that seems so un-American and anti-capitalist. I remember sections of Adam Smith warning people about when the rich get together even for “merriment” that it was not for the welfare of the others.

    Isn’t the corruption of our economy and, of course, the political system, really at the root of the Occupy movement?

  40. Top 1% own 33.8 % of nation’s wealth. Top 1% own 50.9% of Stocks,Bonds and Mutual Funds. Top 1% take home 20% of the income.
    Top 1% – avg tax rate only 23%
    Top 1% do not pay SS tax above $110,000 income.

    CEO pay has skyrocketted 300% since 1990.
    Avg. worker pay increased only 4%.

    Now tell me what is fair.

  41. i have worked in govt compliance for a long time..and recently quit because i dont like the way the govt does busniess..here is how it works..the progressive govt wants to give hand outs..they get their hand out money from tax payers..but they also have to get their paychecks too..so how does govt get more $$ to pay for exploding entitlements and salaries?? MORE TAXES…what happens is u have companies (small and large) making $$ and the govt wants some of that $$ so they impose new taxes and new regulations to get more $$…so what companies have to do is find ways to make $$..that is where little extra fees come in..thoes fees in turn make companies took like bad people that only want to turn a profit..next thing you know people are mad at companies for being evil..but its not them, its the govt..here is a little tidbit to chew on..companies move operations over seas to save money..save money on taxes..think about that for a sec..a company has to hire people, get land, buildings, materials and build its infrastructure to be able to function…so its not like it is a cheap thing to do..yet they are willing to do this because it will cost them more taxes to stay and do busniess…heck, companies from over seas come here all the time to set up shop..WHY do you ask??? same reason..to get away from these taxes..THE PROBLEM IS NOT COMPANIES…ITS GREED, GOVT CAREER POLITION GREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. I don’t know which cardiologists are making a million dollars…check your stats more carefully.

  43. Ride AAPL to the 1%

    If you didn’t work your entire life to be rich, you shouldn’t be surprised or upset that you aren’t rich. Some people dream of being teachers, become teachers and live happy lives rich with fulfillment. Others dream of being rich, become rich and live happy lives rich with fulfillment. Its not the rich persons fault the teacher is not rich.

    1. @Karen

      Are those students working? I put myself through school…. by working. They should at least be helping out.

      In my current role, I help hire a lot of folks. Sometimes we target new grads. First thing I look for: Did they work throughout school? If they did not, I don’t even bother interviewing them.

  44. I’m the son of a 1% family. I live in a fairly wealthy neighbourhood, and the first thing I would like to say is that, yes, 1%-er’s do usually live in packs. The concentration of 1%-er’s in Beverly hills is much higher than the concentration in a small town in Kansas. The area where I live has a median income three times that of the national average, and there is a small part of my area that has a high concentration of low-income people. I also would like to say that the 1% number is ridiculous. My family brings-in 600-700k a year (my father is a surgeon, so it depends on how many cases my father performs that year). However, we don’t control any significant corporations ,and have a very high regard for other people’s lives. My father worked extremely hard to cut costs so that he wouldn’t have to lay-off a single employee from his clinic. He in fact hired another nurse practitioner. We also have not cut any of our household employees such as my sister’s nanny who drives my sister and I to and from school and extra-curricular activities, our house0cleaner who comes once a week, or our landscaper who comes once a week. My dad and mom came to this country with offers from colleges and worked hard to get to where they are. I find it very unfair that people are hating us for being succesful. The only people are really targeting is the top 0.05% billionaire executives, and they need to stop using the 1% number. The minimum income for 1% is 380k, after taxes and private-school school fees for two children, that isn’t really a ton of money.

  45. I am in the top 1

    I am in the top1%. 20 years ago I was broke. I turned it around in 1992, got debt free,
    saved and invested my money and now I am worth probably over $5 million dollar. It can be done. Saving and investing is how this country was built. Not spending every dollar you make. It is as simple as that.

  46. There’s an element to his op-ed that he is missing. when there is a path to that kind of wealth in the market place, there is a huge middle class. the reason is that making that kind of wealth is not supposed to be binary. That is, it isn’t you are in the “in club” and get appointed CEO or you are not and therefore must make close to minimum wage. The contract is supposed to be what the author stated, work hard and you will move up the ladder. Only the exceptional will make it to the very top, but making it to the top 50% should be a noticeable improvement. Making it to the top 20% should be substantial. Making it to the top 10% should put the top 1% in relative view. But over the past 30 years we’ve seen putting in your time and effort and moving up the rungs has become less about effort and more about luck, and the lower rungs have become much more tenuous than the upper rungs. And executives are more often than not political appointees, not people who worked their way up through the ranks and who know the business well.

    For example, if you’re a mid-level manager with a couple of years behind you it would probably take a year of unemployment, possibly much less, before every single thing you own is gone. Everything you worked for is history. If you’re in the political class, first you don’t lose your job for doing it really badly, your employees lose theirs. Second, you don’t lose any personal wealth, people with retirement funds lose theirs. Third, if you do get let go, you don’t even stop getting paid for a year.

    The media want this turned into a class war between rich and poor but that is not what this is. It is a class war between the politically connected who always pay for their mistakes out of our wallets, and the people trying to follow the rules, get an education, work hard, and who still lose everything not because of what they do, but because of the small handful of politically connected executives who control the retirement wealth and jobs of literally millions of people each. And who are almost all job destroyers, not job creators; who are almost all wealth destroyers, not wealth creators.

    People are not unhappy that some make millions of dollars a year in salaries. Good for them, we all want to be them. What people are really, really pissed about, is that those people have a safety net protecting every asset and that multimillion dollar salary from their own incompetence. It cost every man, woman, and child in the United States 2000 dollars each to make sure the executives at AIG who wrote insurance and did not put capital reserves away to cover it were able to keep their pay, their bonuses, their future bonuses, and all of their personal assets. Executives are supposedly compensated because of the greater risks an entrepreneur takes. But they take no personal risks at all. They walk up to the roulette wheel, put retirement savings of thousands of people on 15, and spin. If it wins, they take the lion’s share of the winnings. If it doesn’t, they turn around and make us taxpayers pick up their bar tab and cut them a check for their service.

    THAT is what everyone is pissed about.

    1. A mid-level manager gets wiped out in one year? Huh?

      I’ve saved up 15 years of full living expenses already, and infinity if I sell my house and move to my other paid off house. What are you talking about getting wiped out?

      1. That and he or she can’t get a job mowing lawns? Cleaning offices? Delivering packages? Anything to stave off disaster? Move and find a new job in a different area? What did this hypothetical person do during that year?

        Geez. Save folks! Save for that rainy day. And work!

  47. According to the stats I have read based on either income or net worth I’m one of those in the 1%. I’m 43 and I’ve worked hard since I graduated college 22 years ago. I will admit that I was a bit lucky getting involved in the computer field early on, but I did everything “right” to get here. I got a BS degree in Computer Science, I went to work out of college for a good company and worked 40-70 hours a week learning everything I could. I had great mentors and then 10 years ago I decided to try my hands at my own company. After 10 years of hard work we have about 30 employees and we are moderately successful. Even with all of this my wife works full-time because she believes in working and contributing to the family and contributing to our retirement future.

    I know we are lucky in many ways and many may think we don’t have to worry about anything, but that’s far from the truth. In my business at any point clients can stop paying or we can get sued. Since insurance is a big question mark for the future my wife has to work to make sure she gets to retirement so that she can “lock-in” on medical insurance for our future. With college for our children we want to make sure we can afford it. Again I know we are in a better position than most but we still worry and we still work very hard.

    As for taxes I think we paid over $130k in taxes last year! Honestly I’m not sure if I should be paying more in taxes because of a highest percentage or not. I know that I’m more capable of hiring someone and giving them a good life than someone else because plain and simple I run a business and I will keep the business going so that others can have a job. I’m not being cocky here, just stating facts. There are many employees who work for me who are better computer programmers but they couldn’t really run a business. In order for me to be successful (which means everyone in the company is successful and has a job) I need the following:

    – taxes can’t be too high. If I start paying too much in taxes I won’t try as hard to make money (honestly). Why try to earn $100 when I have to pay $60 (just an example).
    – make health care not a concern for me as a business owner or as an individual getting older.

    Really that’s it. This country is great and I love this country. My grandparents came here because this country gave them possibility. My grandfather came here at 14 by himself with no money and a 5th grade education. He fought in WWII and worked 7 days a week. He made a life for his family and his children and grand children reaped the benefits of his hard work. That’s what it is to being an American. I believe in hard work, helping others, and working together. I’m not a democrat nor a republican nor an independent – I’m an American.

    1. Oscar, I love your story and I want to thank you for working hard and providing people jobs! People shouldn’t attack you for being successful. They should THANK YOU and look up to you to see how they can get ahead as well.

  48. I am pretty close to the top 1% (although I only broke into this lovely income level when I moved over here to socialist Germany), and had to kinda chuckle at the simple assertion that those of us who earn highly are there because we worked harder. There are certainly many people making lots of money because they worked hard, and there are also lots of people who were fortunate enough to be born into wealthy families – wealth tends to perpetuate wealth.

    The horatio alger story is a good method to keep the plebs from rising up against the reality that they are likely never going to become well off despite how hard they work, but in reality hard work (and even that is sometimes optional) is far less of a factor than luck – both situational luck, luck that you don’t get sick when you are uninsured in school, luck to be born to a connected family, luck to be gifted with the right talents, etc.

    Successful people shouldn’t be criticized, but the right winger assumption that people who are not sucessful are just lazy and have inherent character flaws is laughable.

  49. I am in the 1%, I guess, and it took a long time to get there. I won’t be there that long because I don’t intend to work at that level forever. I attended dental school in the 70’s, and then joined the Army where I served as a dental officer for 16 years. Rather than retiring from the Army, I elected to exit and have been very happy in private practice where I have seen my income rise over the years. Without a doubt, I have been blessed. 8 years of school with no income, 16 years of government service at substandard wages for the industry, and now going on 15 years in private practice. Private practice means running your own business as well as treating patients, building a reputation and developing a trusting relationship with a community. It doesn’t just get handed to you.

    So what do I think about sharing more through taxation? By my last count, I am already sharing more through taxation. In addition, I give 10-12% per year in charitable contributions to worthwhile organizations. My take on the subject is that you have little respect for what you get for free. Everyone making a contribution vests everyone in the system. Targeting those of us that are finally enjoying the fruits of our labor is attractive to those who feel they know how to spend our money better than we do. But it is wrong.

  50. Michael Carmody

    Let me start by saying I am not in the 1% and I am perfectly happy. I was a public sector worker whose paycheck,pension and healthcare are paid for by the people who pay income taxes. I would like to say thank you. I worked in a neighborhood that had 48% of the people on government assistance and very few paid any taxes. All I heard from the residents of this particular neighborhood was complaints and a VERY LARGE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT. People there were given far more Police, Fire and Teachers including new schools , than I have ever recieved in any place that i have ever lived. I pay a large school tax now and our schools are crumbling. I think it is easy to sit point the finger and complain. Look at what you have and be grateful. I would never work in that situation again. To hell with the whiners and complainers. Entire neighborhoods are destroyed but somehow it is always someone elses fault and there responsibility to fix it.

  51. Zero and his minions rail about the rich, and paying their “fair share”, and shared sacrifice in this down economic time.

    I’m just a dumb construction worker. But I’m in the top 11-13%

    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was delivering papers from age 11-15
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was bussing tables from age 15-17
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was working at a hot dog joint and going to college.
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I had my first welding job.
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I took a cut in pay to get into the building trades.
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was driving a $1000 truck when my income was $75k+
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was 200′ up on a tower and it was 3° out.
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was working 16 hour days, for a week straight.
    I don’t remember “shared” sacrifice when I was working 7 days a week, 12 hour days for months on end.

    I have a cousin whose husband recently ran into some legal problems (I believe of his own making)
    They were in some serious financial problems, about 5 years ago, and were about to lose their house. Her husband took out money from his 401k to save the house (I have no problem with that) but while he was getting money to save the house, he also got money out to buy a cheap, beat up fishing boat and a beat to snot travel trailer, and an old motorcycle. I called them fools for doing that, and was told “they just wanted what other people had” (Never mind that the person they’re telling this to-me- makes 4 times what they make, and doesn’t have those things). 3 years later they got tired of making payments on the house. My uncle died, and they needed his house more than any of my other cousins, so they moved in. Free of course.
    About 2 years ago a legal issue happened with my cousins husband, now he’s in jail. Of course, he’s innocent (rolls eyes) and its all their defense attorneys fault. As they had a public defender.

    I mention this because, my cousin and I are just a few months different in age. She’s 49 and has NEVER had a REAL job in her life. She’s always babysat somebody’s kid/s, but not in a daycare center way. She once told me “SHE’D NEVER work at McDonalds, those people had no class” and yet her husband was a carni (carnival worker) when they met and got married.

    Never once, with ALL the financial problems they had did my cousin ever get a real job, that would have paid her better money, more consitantly. Never did her husband ever go get a part time job to supplement their income. Never have either one of them ever gone to the community college, to take classes to improve themselves. And yes, they still own the motorcycle, the boat and ANOTHER travel trailer (yes another piece of trash. But its a BIGGER piece of trash, than the other one.) (which they still have)

    And yet “I’M LUCKY”

    Yeah, the harder you work, the luckier you get.
    What a loser calls luck, a winner calls hard work.

    Our society today tells us there should be no consequences to bad decisions.
    When others succeed its called luck.

    I’ve come to believe that we are all psychological projectors.
    From Wikipedia:
    “Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.”

    Those who call others “lucky” are they themselves the ones looking to “luck” to provide for them.

    Those who call the wealthy, lazy or cheaters or stingy, are they themselves lazy or stingy or cheaters.

    I’m proud of WHO I am. What I am. What I have. And what I have accomplished. It might not be a lot by some standards, but I earned it, and I am happy and content with all I am and all I have.

    Because of this inlook upon myself, I suppose it affects my outlook on others. I mean, I’m PROUD of the hard work I do. I’m PROUD of going above and beyond the average. Because of this pride in my work ethic and accomplishments, I assume that others who have succeeded have also done it the same way I did. Maybe their work is different than mine. Maybe their circumstances are different. But the hunger, the desire, the viewpoints on work and success HAVE to be similar. Right???

    It goes back to projecting. How can I be proud of the work I do, proud of the sacrifices I’ve made, proud of all my accomplishments, and yet think that somebody who is as or more accomplished than I am, who has more than me, has come about it any different than I have.

    Which then makes me look at others, who view others as lazy or cheaters or stingy or just lucky, and wonder if maybe they view that in others because thats who they are inside.

    Which brings me to the subject of this article. Who Are The Top 1% Income Earners?
    Are they like me? Proud of they’re accomplishments, hard working and ambitious. Or are they lazy or cheaters or stingy or greedy or just plain lucky?

    From a young age, I was taught to be fair. Not to have double standards.
    To me, that means if one standard to judge somebody is used, that same standard should be applied to all others.
    That applies to taxation as well. Whats good for one is good for the other. If one has 15% taxation, the other should have it as well.

    I guess it all comes down to what the Bible calls coveting.
    Exodus 20:17 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s.”

    But people today will say “I’m not coveting a rich mans possessions”.
    Maybe they don’t want them or admit to wanting. But the reality is they don’t want the rich man to have them either.

    During Obamas presidential campaign, he was asked about raising taxes. He said yes. Asked if he’d still do it if it hurt the economy, he said yes, to make things more fair.

    If you’ve never read it, read Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.

    1. Thank you Mountain Man for sharing your story!

      You should be damn proud, and nobody should be embarrassed by their successes!

      Screw the people who think working at McDonald’s is beneath them. I worked there and it built a ton of character. I SALUTE anybody who works at any minimum wage job, keeps at it and just wants to get ahead!

  52. Nobody is against the 1%, they are simply being asked to contribute more with the economy through a more proportional taxation. If you make over 350k God bless you, but you know you could put some more on the table compared to what a worker making 6.50 an hour working 8 hours a day on a line could. Yeah yeah yeah, why should you? is your money, well, sometimes helping others mean helping yourself, if such contributions help the economy in the long term then is good for everyone, rich people need poor people that can buy their products or services.

    1. You sure nobody is against the 1%? Have you been reading the papers and the internet news for the past month?

      Proportional tax? You mean a system where we are taxed equally after a certain level? I’m all for it. Fight for the people David and help abolish this current system of unfairness!

  53. The $380 per year income standard is overly simplistic. Other authors point to a Net Worth analysis and look at levels of $1.2 to $5.0 m in Net Worth, with individuals earning within a range of $300 – $500k. This would likely NOT include some of the folks mentioned in the article.


    But the Occupy movement is more about the complex realities of the fact that 85% of Americans can only claim 20% of the country’s wealth. And, that beyond net worth, that the lower 85% portion of the population are dramatically more impacted by expenses for basic items such as food, health care, education, transportation etc…

    Also, there are claims that since the 1970’s onward, the new wealth generated due to productivity gains and general economic activities have benefited primarily the top 5% – 20%, with the middle (60%) having stagnate wages and the lowest 20% actually lossing ground in terms of family incomes. A double whammy to mention is not just the stagnate or lower family incomes, but also the fact that since the 1970’s there has been a large entry of two parents being employed, and worse, the social erosion of the family, with a growing number of single parents that often work more than one job.

    So, it is not just a wealth inequity issue, it is a equity issue overall and a power issue of how government spending and policies flow to the top 5% and corporate interests…and the bottom 95% that includes most if not all of small businesses shoulder the majority of burden in terms of their personal work/productivity, the expenses and services they’re able to receive and ultimately their quality of life and security.

    Brian Cummins
    Cleveland City Council
    Cleveland, Ohio USA

    1. So it has now moved to the “bottom 95%” now from the 99%? This is EXACTLY what I’m hoping for! I want to see an all out battle of the bottom 50% vs. the top 50% as people everywhere who pay taxes, and who want to improve themselves get sick and tired of the protests.

      1. It’s realistically more like the 80% who hold 20% of the nations wealth battling the systems, political and economic, that have developed a society that has the top 20% controlling 80% of the nation’s wealth. It’s not a battle of people, it is one of values and priorities. Corporate profits generated by global corporations that are more concerned with short-term shareholder value than long-term value and benefits to the corporation and the people they serve and the natural resources they abuse are the issue, along with the political system that allows it.

        You can try to spin as a pick your boot straps up, everyone can be a millionaire – but that argument is bunk. It is part of the fallacy of the modern American dream. The vast majority of American feel the funk of a stagnate or decreasing family income and lowering of the quality of life. Lottery tickets, periodic dinners at Apple bee’s and a new leased car can only make people feel so good and secure. The truth a large part of the lower 80% are a paycheck or two away from poverty.

        1. Mr. Cummins, you of all respondents to this article have made the most sense.
          The author does make a good point, but your comments have added much value
          to his. Thank you.

          Success is a good thing. Corruption is not.

  54. Fact check: The UC Regents are not paid “$300,000+”. They receive no compensation for their university service.

  55. Hi Sam,

    I’ve been a 1%er in 3 of the last 6 years, based on the level of bonus pay. In 2011 I will come up short.

    I’ve already told my story so nothing special- just hard work and delivering results.

    Oh and even though I’m an American I only made that kind of money after I left the country- so I’m not sure what statistical group I should fall in.


    1. Mike, what happened to the other 3 years? Were those during the crisis or the first 2 years of the six and this year? Does it feel weird breaking that level and going back?

      1. Actually the down years were 2009- terrible financial year so low bonus.

        2011 is another one of the years.

        It’s just a number so I didn’t think about breaking in and out of it until I read this post.


  56. Great article! I’ve been wondering about who the 1% are and found your site. Also found a misleading article on Mother Jones about the 1%, which claimed that they earned more than a million and up, then noticed that it included capital gains. Well, if I earned more than 350,000 a year, I hope I would have the sense to invest some of my income and make some capital gains.

    Wall Street is not the problem, but a symptom of the problem of corrupt government. Wall Street does not get away with anything without the collusion of government. It’s the wrong target. But I guess they can’t draw too much attention to Obama’s corruption otherwise who would they vote for in the next election?

    The comment previous to mine is discouraging. Someone doesn’t understand the market. These people will be overpaid when the market decides that they’re overpaid at which time they will be paid less. Teachers unions and their members are supported by tax dollars, from earned incomes, from people making 25 or 30 thousand a year and up. That earned income taken by the government is then given to other people, like teachers. I guess most teachers want to earn more money, but this system has a lot of constraints, obviously. Of course, teachers could always dump their unions and work in the market system, subject to performance and demand. Take your pick. Neither is perfect.

    I might support the protestors if they would provide a rationale but so far they haven’t. The protests lack focus which I gather is intentional, while they gather steam and attract a lot of people with different agendas, some of which have nothing to do with money. So I guess we’ll see what they come up with eventually, but until then I can’t take them seriously.

    1. DB’s comment is discouraging indeed. Which makes me wonder if more like him/her think that way, which means no wonder why they are protesting and screwing themselves.

      Mother Jones said the 1% earn more than $1 million is true, but a lie since the cutoff starts much lower at $380,000.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      1. originalslicey

        Moveon.org is also reporting the figures of the Top 1% starting at over $1.1 Million. They are including capital gains in their figures instead of the more accurate Adjusted Gross Income or taxable income.

        I’ve seen the chart comparing the >$1Million 1%ers to the $33K %99ers floating around alot.

        I’ve enjoyed reading your articles and the comments on this issue. I especially agree with the comment about achieving the Top 1% as being part of the American dream and that the new American dream ideal included way too much entitlement instead of hard work.

        I’m not sure that OWS realizes that their movement has been hijacked – I think with everyone jumping on the bandwagon, the point of the original protest has really been missed by most.

  57. It really doesn’t occur to any of you that the vast majority of these people are overpaid? There are several people that have finished 11 years of secondary education that are making $50,000 a year with no benefits to educate your children. This is not due to them being lazy (many work over 70 hours a week after all is said and done), or stupid (if you think it’s easy to get a PhD, you don’t have one). That aside, this article severely over-simplifies the issue, as do most since space is short. Hence my over-simplified response. /the other side

    1. Overpaid? You earn whatever you are willing to accept and whatever incremental income you generate.

      You can spend 11 years of your life learning philosophy, and if you are not a great philosopher who can’t teach, come up with something new, write a book, speak to people, etc.. yes, you will not get paid.

      Come on now. You know better.

  58. I’m not the 1%, nor will I ever be (just the facts, not trying to be a downer).
    But there is NO way I’d ever villify them. The OWS protestors are idiots. Have they not learned to “not bite the hand that feeds them”?

    The top 1% are the people who own companies, who hire millions of workers. Why would the OWS want them to go down? If the top 1% was demonized, and punished, millions of people like myself will have an even rougher time finding employment, and millions more will join us in unemployment. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

      1. What? That doesn’t even make any sense. I am AGAINST the Occupy Wall Street.
        I don’t want the top 1% to go down. They need to stay in place where they are, so they can continue to provide jobs!

        I don’t want people to come down with me, I want to go UP, with everyone else.
        So…I’m not sure why you commented the way you did.

        1. Oh, I see. I thought that you were using the word “you” to mean “me”…not the OWS protestors. Sorry!

  59. NotInTheTop

    I think most of the protesters are clueless. And I think a lot of them are there because of envy, frustration, a sense of entitlement, or a combination of all three. I certainly don’t begrudge the top 1% their money. I know most of them worked hard to earn it.

    If I WERE in the top 1% (or anywhere close) I would print thousands of copies of this article and pass it out to those protesters to read.

  60. Hey guys, I agree with Brave New Life that most of you are taking “99%” too literally and are missing the point. The occupiers are not concerned about hardworking entrepreneurs and doctors and those of you bringing in $250K. They are not even concerned about professional athletes bringing in millions. The athletes are not lobbying Congress to deregulate their industry so they can blatantly swindle the middle class.

    As Warren Buffet points out, the uber wealthy make the bulk of their income from investments. Long-term capital gains are taxed at just 15%, compared to wages which are taxed at up to 35%. That’s a whopping 20% tax break for passive income compared to actual labor, no?

    Again, it really is about corporations having too much political clout and Congress protecting the top 0.1% at the expense of the 99.9%.

    And Cashflowman, with his gazillions in Apple stock at least Steve Jobs drew a salary of just $1.

    1. I totally agree with 2cents. certainly some protesters are misled, just like most movements, only some know what they are protesting. there is a saying, making the 1st M is very difficult, most dont make it, but after that, the money is snowballing. these are the people should be capped.
      BTW, we should cancel inheritance. especially those who get a windfall. tax 99% of them. being born to which family has no choice, but being a productive member of the society is a choice. but still we need to have a good family education to bring to that mentality. education, education and more education. most money should be spent on that.

  61. Those people are so evil. How dare they earn so much money? They should be punished for for working hard and/or working smart to make that money. Why not take from them and give to those who did nothing to earn it? It’s just not fair. They’re inherently bad.

    Kidding, of course. Interestingly, there are some that think that way though. Jealously is human nature, no matter how illogically misguided.

  62. I hate taxes and I am so sick of the ‘rich’ being villified. Where would the world be without people out there busting their butts to make good money? Should people sitting in parks protesting the top one percent be admired instead? Maybe if people weren’t sitting around whining constantly and instead getting an education and working hard they wouldn’t have time to worry about what other people make.

    The example this country is setting for the youth is scary.

  63. I see a decent number of responses here from people that strive to be “1%’rs”. Those of us that do strive for that really need to be vigilant in these times. It is the people making the noise in these protests that are going to be driving change. And that’s not a good thing.

    My wife works in philanthropy. I continually am impressed at the huge sums of money “1%’rs” give to charity and other great causes. Be careful what you ask for protesters. I find it funny they want them to pay their “fair share” (but dont define that). But, by paying their “fair share” you end up driving money from these causes to the government (which is incompetent).

    What kind of mission statement is that??

  64. Evil1Percenter

    I’ve been a graphic designing, web developing, incredibly hard working, and extremely ambitious entrepreneur for about 13 years. While more than capable, I barely graduated high school, and dropped out of two different colleges. I never earned a degree, and consider college one of my worst investments. I’ve worked hard for my self-proclaimed “genius” title, and up until 2008, I was a brilliant 25%’er. In 2008 I joined the top 10%, and joined the top 5% in 2009. As of 2011 YTD, at 32 years old, I am apparently an “evil, greedy” 1%’er.

    My wife, a teacher at the time, and I started our business in 2007. In 2008 we found our niche, quit our jobs, and have been working tirelessly ever since. We went from working in the living room of a small house that we did not own, to a 10,000 sq ft production facility with 20 employees, and we’re working on expanding. We sell our products online and produce them by hand in the US with almost all American made materials and supplies.

    I never talk about our success without making sure that it’s known that half of it was dumb luck. We never would have found our niche if a friend hadn’t asked us if we could do it. The other half came from recognizing and pursuing the opportunity we saw. It came from a passion to be successful, dedication, risk and sacrifice, heated debates, lost sleep and all-nighters, countless hours of work and huge amounts of stress. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I wasn’t going bald before we started the business.

    Work never stops for us either. My office is in my head, so I’m always at work, and if for some reason I’m not at work, I’m thinking about work. We were having dinner with our neighbors, and fellow successful small business owners last night. They asked what we did for fun and we both instantly replied “work!”

    What’s frustrating to me is that to this day, the biggest checks I have ever written have been made payable to the IRS. This is just estimated, but after paying our 2011 taxes, we will have paid more in taxes in the past three years than my entire lifetime income before our business. $100 is still $100 to me, and to see that kind of money just disappear (knowing that we could put it to such good use growing our business!) is gut wrenching.

    After our first big tax hit, I pretty much got over the money. It comes and goes unbelievably quick. I’m much prouder of our accomplishments in building a successful business than the money we’ve made, and I could careless about being a 1%’er. No matter how much money I earn, I’ll always have an average sized penis just like the rest of you.

    Great article! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I found it searching for “who are the top 1%” in Google. Just subscribed to your feed.

    1. I love your story and your progress Evil 1%er!

      I hear you on the biggest checks you ever written is to the IRS. That is damn sickening indeed! If only the government could be more efficient, or take our money to help DIRECTLY THE POOR! But no, they’ve gotta spend it on overseas wars, appeasing lobbyists and other bullshit.

      Good to have you man!

      1. Agreed totally that it would be nice to see money directly help the poor. Rather, it sometimes gets redistributed to other ’causes’ and people that are not deserving and of course don’t deserve it. Such massive inefficieny, and entitlement, is practically gross negligence.

      2. Same here on our biggest checks going to the IRS! Adding insult to injury is the torturous – complex tax code we have to wade through each year in order to figure out what that big check amount should be. Adding more insult, the check we write out each year was most likely spent before it was received by U. Sam.

        You have my admiration Evil 1%er!

        I thought I was doing good to get into the top 10!

  65. When did the “American Dream” become getting as much of a government handout as possible, and not chasing the 1%? Isn’t marketing America as the best place to become a “1%er” what made the American Dream, and largely responsible for becoming an economic leader?

    1. I don’t know, but it’s pretty embarrassing. People should feel happy for other people’s successes, and try to aspire to follow their lead if we want to better ourselves.

      The world is laughing at us.

  66. Money Reasons

    Most excellent article!!!

    I have no problem with the top 1%! I applaud them for being ambitious and productive.

    I believe the world is a better place because of many of the top 1%! What if Ford didn’t make cars because he made enough working for Edison, and what if Edison didn’t want to make things because he didn’t want to be in the top 1%? The world would be drastically different!

    Shoot, if Columbus didn’t want to get rich by trying a new shipping route that he believe would be quicker and yield more profits, America as we know it would be drastically different. Many of us would be much, much poorer than we are today living in America.

      1. Money Reasons

        Indirectly, I suppose he may have. Although, I don’t think he had any conflict with the Indians, it was those that came after him.

  67. Darwin's Money

    Really an awesome post Sam.
    Great stuff.

    It clearly highlights in plain language that the 1% are everywhere, especially amongst those that so many Americans are lionizing while protesting at the same time.

    Oh, and what’s Krugman make?

  68. Im actually really surprised that making only 380k a year classifies you as already being in the top 1% of income earners. Who decides this?

    With all my businesses combined I make anywhere from 25k to 30k a month. Granted thats better than the majority of people I know, I have never felt rich actually far from it. Everywhere I look there are way more people driving nicer cars than me and living in bigger houses. Shoot, I dont even own a home yet, still saving so I can do an all cash transaction instead of getting a loan.

        1. that is net profit. The draw back is I work 7 days a week usually 10+ hours if you factor in the drive. I have not had a vacation in more than 2 years. The most important thing is basically the location and how much competition you have in the area. I have one shop in fresno, one in ventura, and one in santa clarita.

          I actually trying to sell my shop in fresno, its too hard to manage and the drive is just way too long.

    1. I already have managers at each store. I have a lead massage therapist at each store that I pay an extra base salary to manage the store and answer phone calls. The problem is that there is a myriad of unforeseen problems that need to be dealt with everyday some of which they are not able to solve. this is the problem with the services industry and especially where the services being provided is done by people. Take for example issues like.

      I had a lady that threatened to sue because she said she was injured by one of my workers who applied too much pressure.

      Workers that get into fights with each other over who should get a customer even though I have a system in place and making a scene at the shop.

      Customers that try to skip on the bill (yes that does happen)

      Employees not showing up to work. I call them and find out they are already on a plane to New York where another business promised them they will make more money per day, leaving me short on manpower and scrambling to find replacements.

      Employees that try to short change me and not report the correct number of customers per day (Now I have cameras installed through out and have a live stream to my laptop for each shop)

      There are so many more problems that the list just keeps going on and on. The most important thing is that in any services business, your best customers are your repeat customers. At each of shops I have a base of regulars that comes in 2 or 3 times a month. This is the core of my business. I have good rapport with many of the customers and often times before they sit around and have tea with me when they are done. Or when its very busy and there is a wait I’m there to chit chat to pass the time so they would not just get up a leave. That is why I have to be around.

      I agree I need to get better with management because in its current state the business model is not very scalable. I have plans of getting the masseuse license for all states so I can open in malls outside of California. Just need to find trustworthy people to help me and come up with a better management system.

      But with any business the amount of financial reward is directly proportional to the amount of work and sacrifice you put in .

      1. Yikes man, that sounds like you’ve got your hands full! I can totally see all that stuff come up. It makes one appreciate good employees! You always think it’s a given, but after reading your comment, it’s far from it.

        I wonder why other people who want to make more money don’t just do what you are doing. That must be frustrating that the government wants to tax you MORE after you are putting all your blood, sweat, and tears into it!

    2. Most folks who are driving nice cars don’t own them. Many people who own nice houses bought more than they can afford. Most folks that have student loans got them because “working through school is hard!” – surprise.

      Hence… they will always be broke and wonder why and then blame other people.

      Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses…. cuz the Joneses are broke.

      Note1: I have no credit cards. Own 3 cars outright (none of them “nice”). I worked my way through school. And will soon have my house paid off.

      Note2: I started with nothing. Nada. Zilch.

      Note3: I may never be in the top 1%, but I will be just fine. :)

      Note4: Not a fan of “legislate to protect people from their own stupidity” but would be a fan of comprehensive “life skills” financial education from an early age.

      1. Won’t it be sad when they meanstest Social Security and those who paid off their homes, lived frugally so they’d have a nice retirement get screwed over? The government changes the rules as you go along. I remember how hard it was to save every month for our kids’ college fund. We went without a lot to buy those savings bonds each month. We did it because it was to be tax free interest. Then we cash them in to pay for college and found that our family income put us out of that “benefit.” This was before the Bush tax cuts that included the capital gains cut. So we paid 28% on something we thought was interest free. No fun being responsible. I refuse to put my assets in trust as I’m encouraged to do. What will stop the government from changing the rules on that too? Nothing is really ours with a government that thinks it’s all theirs.

  69. My son-in-law is a 1%. He went to medical school and joined a practice after working his butt off as an intern. And he still works his butt off. I don’t want a society where we all get equal pay,…I want a merit society, where you get rewarded for working competently. I’m also not naive enough to think that everyone gets ahead by being ethical. I’ve seen enough people lie and steal in my lifetime. But if you earned your money on your own merit, then you should be able to decide what you do with it,…not by some mob yelling in the street about equality,…..forced equality is a house built on sand.

    1. That’s great your son in law is busting his butt to become a doctor! Just got a reader e-mail contribution with a similar story.

      Unfortunately, he will probably get his wages garnished by others who feel they deserve more. He’ll still do OK though!

  70. I guess I should have been a football coach! I wonder if that only requires a credential in pe? Shoot. I picked the wrong subject! At least I can always look forward to being a top Blogger.

    1. Haha, yep! But unfortunately, I think there are literally zero female college football coaches!

      You should start a movement.

      Being a top blogger is definitely a possibility! $32,000 a month in online income here we come!

  71. The rich is an easy target because we can only identify the very rich like the Forbes 400. The rich I know worked hard to create a company or sufficient wealth to retire. I do not know anyone who inherited wealth. Railing against them is similar to complaining, it does nothing for you. The best solution is to do something about it. Afterall they (rich people) did!

    1. What I’m trying to point out is that the rich are more ubiquitous than we think. $380,000 is an awesome income, however it takes a lot of work, sometimes a lot of debt, and often times living in an expensive city to make that money.

      The people are angry, fine. Just direct it at the one’s who get the $10 million severance package after running the company into the ground ad not the “rank and file”.

    1. The idea of poverty in this country is a joke. Besides the fact that people find it more important to have an IPhone than health insurance, the “poor” includes people like my son who is 23, a part-time student, living at home, and paying zero taxes (despite the fact that his only expense is gas for his car). It includes those families who didn’t bother to get married (40% of white babies are born out of wedlock) and game the tax system. Dad takes the mortgage interest, property taxes, and other deductions. Mom claims the kids and gets money back that she didn’t even put in. Enlisted families collect foodstamps because their qualification excludes their tax free housing allowance (a huge benefit that most don’t have). Half of this country doesn’t have to pay a dime of income tax. Enough already with the “poor.” There are real poor, whose kids are stuck in failng schools, but we can’t fix that, can we? It would tick off teacher unions and the politicians would have to go home without their votes.

  72. I’m fine with the 1%. Most people are. Very few people are angry at the cardiologists, actors, and athletes that make the top 1%. What I’m not OK with, along with the OWS crowd, is how the government caters to the 1% at the cost of the 99%.

    The whole 1%/99% thing is a catchy gimmick, I don’t take it literally. But I do think there is a real problem with the distribution of wealth, and I do think the government is at fault. As long as we have legal corporate donations and professional lobbyists this unnatural uncapitalistic distribution will exist.

    1. I went to a fund raiser the other day, and it was SO clear that money = power and access. The thing is, there are tons of really rich people who don’t work on Wall St. Let’s either rage against them all or just be at peace.

  73. Hunting for the 1% sounds better than hunting for the .1%. Anyway, I think they can afford to pay a little more tax, why not?
    If I ever make it to the 1%, I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more. Well, ask me again when I’m there. :)

      1. Awesome reply Sam!

        If you are a legal citizen then you don’t need to protest and complain on
        internet forums, you get the chance to voice your opinion every other November in
        the election of local, state and federal politicians. If you don’t vote, then you have
        no excuse or grounds to stand on.

        1. As long as half of the population doesn’t have to pay any federal income tax, you are not going to change their voting pattern. It’s only going to get more cumbersome on the half that do pay taxes, particularly those who have no where to hide their income, and loopholes.

    1. Sam, that literally made me laugh out loud.

      Once in the top one percent, you can effective drop down to the top 25 percent in terms of real money once you are forced to give all your cash away.

      I prefer to donate my money to worthwhile organizations instead of agencies that will squander my money. Nobody says that the top 1 percent does not give away money. Maybe they just want the money to go to a worthwhile cause?

      What about those in the top 50 percent that don’t pay taxes period. Should’t they want to give money to the government too??

    2. Ride AAPL to the 1%

      I made the top 1% last year. From making $800 a month and keeping almost all of it as a private in the Army, to currently giving up almost all of my income I have mixed feelings. If I paid any company $130,000 a year for services like I do the government, shouldn’t I expect them to move mountains? I could hire 3 people, paying them in the top 50% a year with how much I pay in taxes! At least that way while I am working 65 hours a week someone can be home to feed my dog, wash my clothes and all of the other things I don’t have time to do while working my rear off.

  74. Why are they hunting just the 1%ers? Why not the 5%ers? Aren’t they doing better than 95%? Why limit it.

    I am not in the 1% but strive to be one day…PROUDLY

    1. Protest the 47% who pay nothing and whine that others aren’t paying their “fair share.”

  75. I’m not a 1% earner, but I’m doing just fine. If I make more than I do now, i’d never complain (of course) but I’d probably start a business with it so I can be in the top 1%.
    I dont like th 99% protesters because I don think “soak the rich” is a good tax policy.
    I completely agree with shawanda – if you’ve got what you need, you can be happy on any income.

  76. I’m not a 1% income earner but I’m not complaining. I’m actually very content and if I make more great, if not no problem because I have savings to help me through the tough times. I applaud the folks in the 1% and hope they continue to succeed. They do create a multitude of jobs and help keep our country moving forward. I think the more important issues are lowering the cost of a good education, healthcare reform, and a flat tax would be nice too!

  77. I too am trying to hit that 1% category myself. Like Shawanda said though so wisely, it really doesn’t matter how much money you have as long as you are looked after and happy. Really, very few things that cost a ton of money can actually make us happy. It is the other components of our life that really matter.

      1. Steve Jobs had a salary of $1. His wealth was created by his ideas. Quite different from a CEO of a health insurance company who takes home 30 MM while raising the premiums yet again with 9%. If you do not create, but are just a hired hand to tend the store, 1 million should be more than enough, if the store is really big maybe 2.

        1. His paycheck said $1. He got gobs and gobs of stock…. which is also part of his compensation. So, no, he was never paid merely $1.

          Someone making $30M is represented as part of the 1% just like that person represents the top 25%. I.e., they are really in the .1% or some such. So… focus on the top .1% if you will, not the top 1%. The author of this article mentions this issue with the protest. And I concur. So far… the protests are protesting mostly small business owners and talented wage earners. I.e., they are tossing the ball down the lane and it is jumping over and hitting the wrong pins. Hence… most educated people are not supportive of the primary statement of the OWS folks.

        2. not everyone is born a steve job’s brain. but that does not mean others contribute less than job, only in different ways. recently i moved to a different town, the movers used their blood and sweat to carefully move every house item to my new home. i appreciated very much of their hard work, not any less than job’s iphone. in fact i dont have a iphone, far too expensive than it is worth. the movers will never earn that kind of money job can. but their contribution is nothing less. in fact, it is said that job used cheap labors in China to assemble iphone (cost $8 and sell to us $700). job should taxed to his bone.

          1. I agree with you, American society puts value on ‘capitalism’ and no value on human labor (sweat, blood and tears). This concept as always been there, remember the slaves? We have a sad society! However, it’s going to bite us and destroy us in the end.

  78. By definition, the top 1% are everywhere. If you take a group of 100, there will be, on average, exactly 1 who is in the 1%. Here is the problem…the 1% are NOT everywhere. They hunt in packs. One place they enjoy gathering is the halls of power such as Congress where they gain access by virtue of being in the 1% and then put laws into effect to help their kindred.

    At the core of the problem is this, as I stated above…the top 1% should by definition be everywhere. They are not. They have created a new gilded age that I suspect will go the way of the first.

      1. “Where’s the “Occupy Congress” movement? Or has it begun?”

        Yeah, its called the Tea Party, and it started about 2 years ago, and had a big impact on the last election.

    1. They _are_ everywhere. They are mainly small business owners. Like your favorite dentist, auto-parts store owner, my favorite independent bookstore owner, a local successful italian restaurant owner, construction company owners, some electricians, plumbers, realtors, etc. etc. But some are employees, like top caliber engineers, architects, accountants, C-level folks at businesses of all sizes, loads of sales people and marketers.

      Those are the vast majority of the 1%. They work hard and employ or enable a lot of people.

      1. Exactly! If you live in California you don’t have to look far. It’s expensive to live here. I am in the top 1%, I’m a doctor who works hard (over 80 hours a week) My student loans are etrousous. I save 100s of lives a year and work very hard for every dollar I earn. Yet the guy who sits on the couch, playing the victim wondering why a $300k a year hasn’t fallen in his lap when he has done nothing to earn it, feels I need to pay his share because he’s been too lazy to try to change his life. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon and earned every dollar I have ever made. I worked at McDonalds when I was 16 and it sucked but, rather than deciding this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I decided I needed to make life changes which include not going to the movies, out to dinner, etc. to pay for school. This is a very lazy country in my opinion.

        1. the education should never be such expensive in the first place. in some european countries, the education is free all the way to college and the students even get paid to go to schools. such high cost to get through medical schools certainly shy away many talented young people who may become excellent doctors. our country spends too much money on too many useless things, like invading and messing up other countries who are harmless. the most important things in life are 1. health, 2, education, 3, social harmony. all money should be spent on these things, all the rest are less or non important.

        2. “Exactly! If you live in California you don’t have to look far. It’s expensive to live here. I am in the top 1%, I’m a doctor who works hard (over 80 hours a week) My student loans are etrousous.”

          and yet you can’t spell.

          1. I think he spells just fine, his phone likely made a spellcheck mistake and it isn’t worth the time to fix it.

            You are insanely petty (or more likely jealous and perhaps racist too as the “you can’t spell” is equivalent to “learn some fookin english!”) to take digs at 1 misspelled word on the internet.

            He’s right, this country is lazy. All you lazy white people are getting EXACTLY what you deserve, nothing. You want everything handed to you, and your best skill is that you are always in the top 3% (on Xbox).

            I am immensely enjoying watching the decline of the over privileged white man, as he whines, cries, begs, steals, murders, and throws fits all the way down.

            I am a white man, and I see it everywhere I look – over privileged arses who think they DESERVE a great life simply for being born.

            And yet, those same people flock to the Republican Party which just so happens to be the party that tells everyone to “get off my lawn” and “go work for it!”

            As usual, white losers are crying because they can’t have their cake and eat it too.

            YEa, so u cab’t spell.

            It isn’t spelling that the real world cares about, 4chan.

            1. Niel: The fact that a medical doctor can’t spell a word as simple as “atrocious” is embarrassing. It also tends to imply that there are other things she may be dismissing as not relevant enough to warrant her concern or attention.

              The thing about not caring about the little things is that a lack of interest in quality and excellence in all you do is that level of disinterest tends to bleed into other areas. Pretty soon you’re ignoring the minor details related to your job.

              People like to insist that minor matters, like correct punctuation in your writing. Well, ponder this: a dairy company lost $10 million because the judge decided the missing comma matters because it changes the meaning of one particular job description.

              About 35 years ago, power company employee had to stop water flowing into a river in Upstate New York, but, not knowing any better (kids deciding they don’t need to know that ’cause they’ll never use it), the employees choose the two weeks that salmon swim upriver to spawn. Thousands of salmon died.

              Knowledge matters. Quality and excellence matter. Anything not done with excellence isn’t worth doing.

            2. NEIL : The thing is she gives herself away because she knows nothing of not just spelling , it is also the complete mechanics of the English language. Read her again please . Note that she knows nothing of English and there is no way she has even gone to college your standing up for a TROLL.
              It may mean nothing to you but to any English teacher it means a lot and no one is going to get a Doctorate if they cannot pass English.

        3. LOL@Naomi, You are no doctor , or a 1 per-center, trolls make nothing except gain attention from those who accidentally read you. Hey doc please take a night school course of English so maybe next time you will actually fool someone. for now give it up.

      2. You’re correct. The uber rich are politicians, sports figures, musicians, actors, and oh yea, some business people who used their genius and took huge risks. They pay plenty… far, far more than their “fair share” of taxes, while half pay absolutely zero, while demanding that the rich pay even more. Time to cut the cord. Let the Bush tax cuts for ALL expire, and set a minimum tax on every single earner out there so that they actually CARE where Congress is blowing the money and insist on accountability. If Europe can tax everyone, so can we. And don’t start on the other taxes everyone pays. I don’t care. That is for their own benefit… not the annual spending of over $3 trillion.

        1. Hey Top 5%, get a grip. If you want lots of money then you actually have to work for it. You spend a lot of time complaining about the system here. If it’s that awful for you why don’t you move to Europe where it is apparently uber awesome dude. Or you can help out the social harmony here by pulling your weight.

          +100 to Naomi

      3. Disagree with you, those persons you listed are the 1% top earners, and not the famous 1% we talk in general about. There is a big difference, one group live by the income they generate from working many hours per day while the other generate income from accumulate wealth over several generations and many times exploration of labor. You need to understand the two differences, before starting a conversation.

  79. Put me in the camp that’s trying to become a 1 percenter.

    What I don’t understand is why it even matters how much money someone else has if my needs are taken care of. If you’re in the top 1% of income earners, then it’s likely a result of others voting, with their wallets, that you’re deserving of such compensation. Although it’s not a perfect measure, your income is a reflection of your value in the marketplace. Wanna make more money? Start with being more useful to others?

      1. How does it make sense that the top 1% are everywhere? I think you may have misunderstood what that really means “the top 1%” this is mostly about wealth not income. Yes for income that would be more than 450k a year, but the wealth threshold is 8.9 million. Both income inequality and wealth inequality are an issue, but they are not the same thing. This is from Money.com “Wealth inequality is far greater. According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans control 35.6 percent of the total wealth of the country”

        There is nothing wrong with being rich, but the top 1% own 68% of the means of production, have taken 95% of the economic gains since 2010, own 35.6% of all wealth in the country and only pay 40% of the yearly tax burden, something is wrong there.


      2. This is the unfortunate illusion of capitalism: that your wealth is associated with the work and benefit you provide society. In fact, Sam, you mentioned just earlier that you had struck luck in the early dot com days. Someone living in Detroit when the car industry moved out was not as fortunate.

        Entitlements are one thing, but acknowledging that luck, or more like chaos, has a factor involved in wealth accumulation – ie acknowledging your own luck as much as someone else’s skill – is what is not done enough.

        There are rich people who earned their money, and there are lots of rich people who haven’t. It will to be hard to convince a die-hard libertarian, but the reality is some monkeys walking around the jungle strike a coconut tree and some monkeys were born in the Sahara desert. The Sahara desert monkey can spend 80 hours a week searching for coconuts but it’s going to be a little harder than the one born in the right circumstantial jungle.

        But that’s nothing compared to acknowledging the wealth that can be found for out-right scammers, thieves and folks gaming the system (hey, does 2009 sound familiar?) to make money on the backs of other people. Ponzi schemes are not fiction.

        Hard work prevails, including and not limited to minimum wage jobs. I will never say hard work is not a necessary ingredient. But society will be a much more joyful experience when we stop treating people who have wealth as better, because they apparently were beneficial to society more than someone else. People with wealth are wealthy, period: Not better because they created societal value, not worse because they were thieves and scammers.

        Now get back to work.

        1. I have to add that not counting scammers because i do not consider a thief as a earner. We are talking the 1 per centers that are there legitimately.
          Ok, I can only speak for myself , I am in a middle class neighborhood. I could live in a mansion with servants if I wanted to. I don’t.
          I agree with you that huge wealth is mostly luck. I disagree with your thinking that anyone just as lucky will be rich.
          If Joe Poorman has no ambition and no ideas and lives on nothing but dreams he can be the luckiest man alive and will never get anywhere . He will be poor his whole life.
          What a person needs to get rich is to be out there in the world dressed and ready for opportunity. He needs a plan ,some ideas and a talent or two that has been honed then he may still be poor all his life UNLESS some luck comes to that person who is ready for that lucky break….if I had not gotten a couple lucky breaks I would still be poor. BUT I was smart and ready for when the lucky break did come . So can anyone be rich? NO ….do you have to work your a$$ of to be rich NO . What it takes to be rich is being a person that has something to offer that others are willing to pay for ,being willing to take a chance, being ready and trying and at that point getting lucky!

    1. so what if your needs are not taken care of? Say, for instance, that you can’t find a job and have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt to pay off soon?

        1. Samurai, how would you suggest paying off your loans when you don’t have a source of income?

          Also, a $50,000 loan at 4% is about $500/m for 10 years. Which leaves you paying about $61,000. That’s a steep price for 10 years, considering that only the top 1% make $360,000/year. And then consider student loans for $100,000, which would end up costing $120,000 (over $1000/m).

          I’ve read some of your articles, and it’s quite obvious you’re not hurting for money or maybe you just live in a facade of wealth. I do like reading your stats though; you could list where you get your information from though.

          1. Can mom and dad float you for a while as you find something? There are tons of jobs out there, albeit minimum wages jobs ready to hire. job openings in the US are at a 3 year high.

            You can also call the lending institution and ask what specific programs they have to help ease payments. Could be an extension of the pay back period, for example.

          2. I’m not sure I follow you. Why would you have $50,000 in loans you can’t pay off? Why are you asking me when you’re the one who signed the papers to take out the loan? Are you not willing to work to pay it off?

        2. I don’t get it. My hubby and I had TWO undergrad student loans when we got married, and then took on a THIRD loan for him to get his MBA. At the time the interest rate was 7% on those loans and we had over $85K among the three loans. We managed to pay the loans, buy a car, buy a house, have two kids (AND feed and clothe them). HOW? We worked 50-60 hour weeks for a while, budgeted our money, clipped coupons, bought only WHAT WE NEEDED, and did a lot of “do-it-yourself” projects in the house rather than hire someone. All this whining about the cost of loans that YOU signed papers to acquire, is getting a bit old and tiresome. If it were a mortgage and you didn’t pay you’d be in foreclosure, but I bet you’d work had NOT to lose your house, even if it meant a minimum wage job, and some negotiation with your lender to ease things a bit.

        1. There is always a price to pay. Supply and demand, if you don’t have a job it means you aren’t needed. Your options are to wait around and hope eventually you are needed or make yourself needed. You know who doesn’t have a hard time finding a job? The 35 year old cardiologist, thats who. He has more debt in student loans than most people will make in a lifetime, but he will be able to pay it off and live well because he has a job in a desired field.

        2. You are dead on Ride AAPL.

          I’m sorry you can’t find a job after spending 4 years drinking beer and reading classics or studying art history (all of which are truly lovely pursuits, but don’t necessarily make you competitive against an engineer, doctor etc. in the job market. Do you see anyone in China majoring in these kinds of fields?) You choose your major and now feel entitled to earn a “college degree appropriate” income.

          And there are always jobs out there. Go work at McDonalds if you need to and honor your loans. Stop asking for handouts. I’m sorry you feel you are above Mcdonalds – but the economy is speaking and you are not adding enough value to get a higher paying job. If you don’t like the reality then go back to school and get some hard skills.

      1. Where did you borrow from? The government only allows a student a certain amount per year, so that they don’t end up owing more than $50k after four years… less if you’re a dependent of your parents.

    2. the problem is not just the top 1% and the 99%. the problem is whether everyone has an equal start in the right family with the right mentality toward life. every government should put major efforts in educating families and parents, not in the militaries (the major spending in our country). not everything we like is good thing. we over pay those athlets and movie stars. we isolate those unfortunate to certain neighborhood where the schools are bad and they ended up dropping out of schools and some become gangsters and drug dealers. all we do is to creat gated communities with security protection. this will never work long term. it is time to have true intelligent people to run for the government, not those self serving politicians we see on TV everyday. all they talked about are things coming from a primitive mind.

      1. Top 20%

        If you are not in the top 20 percent you are not living, you are only surviving. Unfortunately, the government and the system as conditioned the majority of the population to accept living in a survival mode. It won’t get better, peoples’ minds Are too weak to understand the strangle hold they are in.

    3. Also what you are advocating is that money equals right or in other words social darwinism. When you say if someone has money they must have deserved it. This is sometimes true and sometimes not true. Social Darwinism and Laissez Faire are dangerous social ideals for any society to claim valid.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *