The Truth About the 1%’ers

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The 1% are evil.  Why?  Because they own 35% of all the wealth.  Twenty percent own about 82.7% of the wealth.  How can this be fair?


Fair or not, what if I told you that there is nothing unusual about it?  What if I told you that it follows nature’s pattern?


The Pareto Principle is named after an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who developed it circa 1896.  Many know it as the 80/20 rule.  He showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people.  Pareto also found that 20% of the peapods in his garden accounted for 80% of the production.  In 1989, it was shown that 82.7% of the world GDP was owned by 20% of the population, according to Wikipedia.


In manufacturing, approximately 20% of the issues cause 80% of the downtime.  Pareto fault charts are often used to focus on the 20% of issues causing downtime.


In business, it is common that 80% of the profit comes from 20% of the products sold.  It’s also known that about 80% of business comes from 20% of the customers. 


Microsoft estimated that 80% of its software crashes came from 20% of the bugs.


Zipf’s law is a variant of the 80/20 rule.  Neither is a law but rather mathematical models that many natural occurrences loosely follow. The eponymous law in named after George Zipf, an American linguist.  He studied languages and attempted to explain why words occurrences followed a power law.  He was not the first to observe the pattern.  From Wikipedia, Zipf’s Laws “states that given some corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table.”  The word “the” is the most common word, followed by the words “of”, “and”, and “to”.  As it turns out, approximately 18% of the words we utter or read make up approximately 80% of the words used.  The top 10 most frequently used words make of 20% of the words we use, and that is about 0.002% of the total number of words.  How can this be fair?  Don’t words have equal rights, I ask “quizzaciously”?  And, it is not just English; it’s almost all languages, and, per VSauce, it includes languages that we have not been able to decipher.


VSauce has a great video on Zipf’s Law.  Here are some of the examples given in the video:


“The” makes up 6% of every word we say or write

20% of the carpet gets 80% of the wear

20% of patients use 80% of the resources

80% of the complaints a company receives come from 20% of the customers

The top 25 words make up approximately 1/3rd of what we say; the top 100, half.


Take the carpet wear example.  Furniture tends to be placed where people don’t walk, thus, increasing its use and wear.  It snowballs.  The same logic can explain why the rich get rich.  The more money you have, the easier it is to make money.


Another interesting statistic I came across is that 80% of the twitter follows of athletes follow 20% of the athletes.


The point is that the top 20%’ers and the top 1%’ers are nothing new. It was true a hundred years ago and it is true today.  They follow a pattern that exists in nature.  Like it or not, we may all be victims of nature.  So, maybe we should give them a break and concentrate on the 20% of things that contribute to 80% of our own happiness and success.  It has a snowball effect and can help us strive towards being a member of the top 20%, or even the 1%.


George N Romey Added Feb 26, 2017 - 3:41pm
Tom the system has been rigged to keep people like you and me out. Look at Chelsea Clinton, she started right near the top.  There was a brief 3-4 decades after WW2 that rags to riches could be true.  Then it stopped. I've been around the 1% and if there is one thing they hate its the poor and middle class.  They are also generational psychopaths.  They are taught from a young age other than their own kind people are there to be used and abused.  I agree with Leroy it always been that way its just for awhile the club had an open membership policy. 
Ryan Messano Added Feb 26, 2017 - 3:43pm
There is nothing wrong with 1%'ers.  They simply learned and applied the principles of wealth acquisition and retainment that many of us don't know, or if we do, don't apply.  But we all have libraries, so it's time to stop blaming the wealthy for our own ignorance and lack of discipline.
The laws of success never change.  We ought to learn and apply them, and stop complaining.  
Jeff Jackson Added Feb 26, 2017 - 4:20pm
Twenty percent of the salesmen (oops, salespeople) make eighty percent of the sales. I once told an old high-school buddy (now deceased) that eighty percent of the men lust after twenty percent of the women. He said he never looked at it that way, but it made sense to him. As a manager, twenty percent of my staff created eighty percent of my problems. Yup, been following that idea for years.
Dino Manalis Added Feb 26, 2017 - 4:24pm
Most of the 1% are hard-working people, they don't owe anybody anything, we should encourage them with tax exemptions when they invest in the poor, including public housing; schools; infrastructure; and R&D.  Inequality is natural, but we need better policies so it doesn't worsen.
Jeff Jackson Added Feb 26, 2017 - 4:36pm
Um, and we need policies that do not punish the people who are not as productive, especially those who have not been given opportunity. I used to believe that in America you make your own opportunities, but I'm not singing that song anymore. I have seen too many opportunities that were set up by others in the idle rich class, to quote a famous economist.  Perhaps, and in this economy it is almost an irrefutable fact, that they are underemployed and could be producing more if given the chance.  The middle class are the most underemployed of the present American economy, and yet they still pay a higher percentage of the taxes.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:22pm
Thanks, Tom.  That's it.  Focus on the 20% that matters.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:33pm
George, it has always been that way, but it doesn't mean we have to remain part of the other 80%.  The little things we do can make a big difference.  For example, when the economy is good, save more.  Start early.  I see too many that only care about whether or not they can afford the payments.  Do you really need that swimming pool?  You've talked about making 6 figures.  I've never earned that kind of money.   Yet, I have been able to weather the storm.  You had the opportunity to be part of the 20%.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:37pm
I agree, Ryan.  Maybe we will never be part of the 1%, but we can come darn close.  I fondly remember the conversations with our millionaire janitor.  It wasn't he who accumulated the wealth.  It was his mother, working multiple jobs cleaning houses for people and investing the money in property so she could send her children to school.  If a black lady in the 50s and 60s can do it, no one else has an excuse.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:42pm
"...20% of the people are responsible for 80% of the problems, and when it involves women, it becomes 10% of them causing 90% of the problems."
Lol.  I think you are right, Slade.  80% of my problems didn't start until the last 20% of my life, which began when I got married.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:45pm
Yeah, Jeff, I came across a similar statistic.  And, it wouldn't surprise me that 80% of the women chase 20% of the men.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:47pm
"Most of the 1% are hard-working people, they don't owe anybody anything, we should encourage them with tax exemptions when they invest in the poor, including public housing; schools; infrastructure; and R&D.  Inequality is natural, but we need better policies so it doesn't worsen."
I agree, Dino.  They didn't get rich by hiding their money under the mattress.  They invest.  The government is inefficient at allocating resources, so it makes sense to me to encourage the 1%ers to do what they do best.  We all benefit.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 5:58pm
Jeff, I think we still create our opportunities.  Sometimes, we are just too lazy, myself included.  I have seen too many immigrants succeed, all of them faced more obstacles than I have faced.  But, I think I know what you mean.  The thumb of The Man is ever pressing down on me.  It comes from the top, the wealthy, and filters down to squeeze as much profit out of me as it can.  They collude with other companies on wages, decreasing my mobility.  They bind me with non-compete contracts, further reducing my mobility.  If you want to work, you have no choice.  Even if I start my own company, I have to take payment on their terms.  Immigrants often have nothing to lose.  That's my theory, anyway.
Dave Volek Added Feb 26, 2017 - 6:30pm
Nice article Leroy. The pareto principle does seem like a natural force.
I would say that you have some good comments about the plight of the working poor. It is hard to rise above that condition. I would like to see some supposed "self made" people start with nothing. I would say 80% of them would still part of the working poor 20 years later.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 6:45pm
Thanks, Dave.
You may be right.  Some had it handed to them.  Some use unscrupulous means.  Some are willing to do things others aren't.  Some are inventors.  Some have dumb luck.  Some have the gift of Gabe.  Some are savers.  Some are risk takers.   In any case, within two or three generations, the wealth is often lost.  Eventually, it is distributed.  I see no need to envy.
George N Romey Added Feb 26, 2017 - 7:25pm
I knew Grace Kelly's grandson Andrew Embiricous in New York.  He died in 2012 under very strange circumstances.  He was actually a very down to Earth nice guy.  Not until his death did I know who he actually was. He was worth billions.

During the time I knew him he spent most of his time traveling and at the gym.  The only job he had that I knew of was working at a tanning salon (he liked getting free tanning).  I couldn't figure him out because he had money to travel but worked at a tanning salon. Only later when he died I understood.
But by no means did this guy work hard.  Again super nice guy always friendly to me when we ran into each other.  So sad he died young.
Jeff Jackson Added Feb 26, 2017 - 8:05pm
Yes Leroy, you got it.  By no means are all of the rich hard-working souls who have made it on their own.  Between the expensive vacations, taking time off whenever they feel like it, from personal experience, I can't say they've all worked their way to the top; some of them started that way.  Please understand that I have no grudges against the wealthy, but having know a few of them, I cannot say that they all have pulled themselves up from their bootstraps.
Leroy Added Feb 26, 2017 - 8:23pm
Jeff, most CEO are overpaid caretakers, IMHO.
Pamalien TW Added Feb 26, 2017 - 10:54pm
Between the Forbes top 8, who own 50% of the world's wealth and Putin, who claims to be worth another 25%, that means the 1,810 billionaires from the beginning of 2016 have dwindled fantastically.
I could dig up citations from an old post where I found Trump as the 342nd richest man on earth. He's supposedly worth about $4B.
Did you know that last year, 62 people owned half the world's wealth, while today it comes to 8... Not counting Putin. That would be 9 people with 75%.
In my research, I found the lower rung of Billionaires Lost 7% of their wealth last year, while the top found 5.7%. These numbers have been trending and extrapolating.
If Putin were not part of the 1%, I couldn't call Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Elon Musk or, Mark Zuckerberg evil... They made their money by selling products you use every day and, good products worth buying... Well, Buffett is a money guy but...
I used to think the 1% was evil, until I saw their faces.
It's the people in between. It's the 1800-ish Billionaires, scrabbling to maintain their value. It's the overpaid CEO's who still can't pay themselves enough to reach that $Billion mark because they don't know how to invest and, would rather rob their employees for a 7th beach house than save a penny of their own. 
It's the people excitedly watching their piddly 401K rise 1% a year, while getting mad that they can't save more, after their wages stagnated to maximize profit for investors... Which they happen to be. A nice little Circle...
Trump's motivation is to stop his loss and, scratch his friends backs. They profit from being money movers, black mailers and back stabbers, while the tip top is filled with people who, actually built something of value... Unless it's Putin. He just owns Russia.
I honestly feel better, knowing who sits at the top of the official Forbes list. Their money isn't out buying dirty favors or promoting fossil fuels.
Their money built real, tangible products and, they pay their employees well (except Bezos) . They don't stand to gain or lose much from robbing us blind. We hand them our dollars with a smile on our face.
Pamalien TW Added Feb 26, 2017 - 11:05pm
If you wanna be mad at the top 1% and say they must be stopped, stop playing Xbox and using a PC With Microsoft OS. Stop using Facebook. Don't buy Zara clothing. Don't buy a Tesla car. Don't buy from Don't buy Kraft foods (or any Koch product)...
Pamalien TW Added Feb 26, 2017 - 11:06pm
Matter of fact, stop buying at all. Abandon the capitalist system altogether.
Bill Kamps Added Feb 27, 2017 - 8:37am
Leroy, you are correct, that what we are complaining about is normal, not at all a new phenomenon.  
If anything I would suggest that wealth is less concentrated than it was 500 years ago, when kings and serfs were the norm.   There were probably more than 100 serfs for each rich nobleman, and a nobleman probably had more than 1000 times the wealth of a serf, who had literally nothing more than the clothes on his back.  As recent as 150 years ago, wealth was still concentrated much more than it is today.
It was only during the start of Industrial Revolution in the 1700s that people without wealth were able to earn wages and create savings.  It was during this time that it finally became possible to become rich, without inheriting wealth, or without raising an army to steal it from someone else.  During the IR, expanding businesses and inventions gave people the opportunity to become rich.
Before the IR people subsistence farmed, or worked simply to feed their family.  It was rare that someone was able to change economic status, and usually that involved some stroke of luck, or criminal activity.
People complain that it is "not fair" that wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few, but when was the world fair ?  what century and what decades ?  Never.  If anything the world is more fair now than before, though its still not fair.
George N Romey Added Feb 27, 2017 - 8:40am
As we move more and more towards a gilded age the 1% in fact work very little (other than sitting on boards and running to charity dinners) because the wealth is generational and from investment activities.
The last three CEOs I worked under were pure psychopaths, no ifs and or buts.  
Mike Haluska Added Feb 27, 2017 - 8:53am
There is nothing inherently wrong with the "distribution" of wealth in a free market economy.  Like any other complex system, there is a statistical bell curve with a mean, median and outlying tails.  Anyone expecting a flat line with everyone equally "wealthy" is not living in reality. 
I have one question for those angry at the 1% (I'm NOT one of them, before someone accuses me):
"What do you predict would happen if we just confiscated all the wealth and redistributed it evenly among the 300 million US citizens?" 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 27, 2017 - 8:55am
One more related question to the above:
"How long would it take before the original "1%" recovered their wealth and the bottom 10% had pissed it all away?"
Bill Kamps Added Feb 27, 2017 - 9:11am
Mike, this is sort of what happened in Russia when the Soviets went away and the national properties were distributed to the workers. 
Workers were given shares in the factories they worked in.  Some clever people with some savings, went around and acquired these shares for a few bottles of vodka, and low and behold the oligarchs were created who then owned large industries within the new Russia.
The workers were all given shares in the factories, and it didnt take very long before they pissed it away, literally.
The only places where people actually made out, were when they were given title to their apartments.  Turns out people were less likely to trade ownership of their apartments for vodka, since they did understand they lived in these places.  Some of these flats, especially in Moscow, turned out to be worth quite a lot of money, so this help to create the middle class in Russia.
Granted, Russia had no history of stock ownership, so when people were given stock in their factory they had no clue what they were worth.  But the point is much the same, the 1% will find a way to acquire wealth, one way or another, legally or otherwise.
Billy Roper Added Feb 27, 2017 - 10:28am
I think what is different about the 1%ers this time is not so much that they are, but rather (((who))) they are, disproportionately, and what they do with their wealth, which is finance the mongrelization of everyone else into a lumpenvolk underclass proletariat for their use as consumers.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 27, 2017 - 10:58am
Bill K - I remember watching the news when the Iron Curtain was beginning to fall and western journalists were being allowed in.  A reporter was talking with Ukrainian steelworkers coming out of the plant and he asked a veteran steelworker the following question:
"Why is there such a low productivity level in Soviet steel facilities?"
The old veteran steelworker shrugged and said:
"They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work."
There is the problem with socialism/collectivism in a nutshell and it will NEVER be solved.
George N Romey Added Feb 27, 2017 - 11:42am
I've met my share of sons, grandsons, great grandsons of the 1% (for example I knew Anderson Cooper when I lived in NYC).  Almost from the time they are walking and talking they are taught to be suspicious of anyone not of their social economic class.  As early age 4 their friends are picked for them, their activities are chosen and they are already living in a strange world of nannies, drivers and specialized teachers. They are separated from most of society and developed an irrational fear of society. In young adulthood that fear turns into hate.
No surprise they become psychopaths in life or suffer other mental illness. Anderson Cooper's brother threw himself off their penthouse apartment balcony.  Somebody that could have had anything in life and done anything he wanted to do in his life.  
George N Romey Added Feb 27, 2017 - 12:17pm
Slade most of the 1% are of old money (or at least started off in the top 10%) and have so much of it one could not spend it all.  There are only so many homes. yachts, cars, clothing, jewelry, cocaine, etc. one can buy. Yes its very easy to go through six or seven figures. But when someone is worth billions that multiplies by millions just from passive investment there is only so many hours in a day one can spend.
Also the 1% can be quite frugal.  Look at Warren Buffet.  Yeah he has the multiple house. car thing but he enjoys most of his time on his farm.
Bill Kamps Added Feb 27, 2017 - 12:22pm
Billy and George, Im not sure the 1% EVER were a group of people we would want as pals.  During the times of kings and queens they were a bunch of inbred families that married each other to try to prevent wars and consolidate their wealth.  These days they are the kids that go to prep schools and Ivy league colleges.  Much the same, the goal of every wealthy  family is to keep the  wealth.
True, before, the 1% didnt not create consumers, they created serfs, who worked the land until they died,  with no hope of ever owning it.  They worked the land in exchange for some iffy hope of protection should the neighboring nobleman decide to attack them.  In the 1800s we had sharecroppers, much the same, now we have employees, much the same. The people with the gold make the rules.
There is more mobility now than hundreds of years ago.  It is possible now for there to be a Musk, Buffett, Gates, etc.  While these are rare as catching lightening in a bottle, it was impossible before the Industrial Revolution.  More common are people moving from poor to middle class, or from middle to upper middle class.  This may not be as common as we like, but it happens, and historically before, it never happened.
I just dont know when it was that the 1% ever gave a crap about the rest of the population, or when the laws, and economics were not slanted heavily in their favor.  Since they run the corporations, and influence the laws, exactly how will things change ?  Even when there have been revolutions, after the revolution they still run things. 
We can complain all we want, but more productive use of our time is just to do the best we can with the cards we are dealt.
George N Romey Added Feb 27, 2017 - 12:40pm
The behavior is learned.  They pick up it from parents and other adults in their lives.  At the same time they are retarded in developing their social skills.  They do not have the ability to socialize like other children.  Friends and activities are predetermined and they are in tandem with other walled off children.  Mothers and fathers are secondary to nannies and other care takers.
No surprise that some of them like Paris Hilton or the Bush daughters rebel in young age.  
Bill I do think there was a brief 30 year period in which the plutocrat crowd was at least somewhat tolerant of a middle class.  Some of that was likely due to the PR war within the Cold War.  However as you point out the 1% has traditionally ruled with little care if whether they impoverish others.  
My experience is that they can actually seem like down to Earth UNTIL money becomes involved.  Then the differences are totally exhibited. They like their "charity work" becomes in nameless and faceless people supposedly benefiting-out of sight, out of mind. But they would be the last to roll down their window at a stop light and hand a beggar with a sign a couple of bucks.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 27, 2017 - 12:52pm
If we want to live in a free society then we can't force others to share the fruits of their labors - that is simply feudalism.  Freedom requires individual responsibility and accountability.  It's that simple - if someone tells you the "government" should be responsible/accountable they are or want to be the "government"! 
Stone-Eater Added Feb 27, 2017 - 12:55pm
For the ones who understand German. The going down of the US ;-)
Mike Haluska Added Feb 27, 2017 - 1:50pm
George - your claim:
"Slade most of the 1% are of old money (or at least started off in the top 10%) and have so much of it one could not spend it all."
holds true in Europe, not in the US.  Over 70% of millionaires in the US are "new money".  There is a lot of truth in the expression "Only in America".
Billy Roper Added Feb 27, 2017 - 2:44pm
Jewish Americans are the most powerful and influential ethnic group in America. Jewish Americans make up 2 percent of the U.S. population yet comprise 40 percent of U.S. billionaires.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 27, 2017 - 3:31pm
And?????  Over 22% of all Nobel Prizes were awarded to Jewish people even though they are less than 0.2% of the world's population.  God bless them and be happy we have all benefitted from the intellect and hard work of the Jewish people.  The fact that the US has TEN TIMES the world's concentration of Jews is a blessing to our nation.
Leroy Added Feb 27, 2017 - 6:35pm
Rather than curse the Jews, let's try to learn from them.
George N Romey Added Feb 27, 2017 - 6:53pm
Some of the best people I've worked for have been Jewish.  One of the most generous but tough guy I've ever worked for was an older Jewish man in New York City.  Unfortunately when new owners came in his was thrown out because he was "too old."  I'd do anything to find that caliber of man again in the business world.
Billy Roper Added Feb 28, 2017 - 9:06am
Mike, how has the U.S. been blessed by Jews? Is it by the open borders and nonWhite immigration they push? The gay marriage and LGBTQ and feminist agenda they pushed? Maybe the founding people of the nation heading towards becoming a minority in it because of their pushing for it?
Billy Roper Added Feb 28, 2017 - 9:07am
Leroy, I agree, let's emulate Jews not by becoming parasites in other people's countries, though, but rather by having our own racially based state, as they do.
Billy Roper Added Feb 28, 2017 - 9:07am
George, "my massa was good, he hardly ever whup me, an he not work me too hard". LOL
Leroy Added Feb 28, 2017 - 1:43pm
Billy, just take Hollywood.  Once upon a time, no one wanted to go there.  It was left for the Jews and the Italian.  The influence largely remains.  We have had so many capable Jewish entertainers.  Just recently I looked up two to see what happened to a couple of actors to see if they were still living.  Peter Falk always played the Italian.  He was, in fact, Jewish.  So was Little Joe.  I think my life has been enriched.
Stone-Eater Added Feb 28, 2017 - 3:17pm
When the fuck can we stop talking about Jews ? The guy in Tel Aviv who goes into the club Saturday and drinks his beer must be fed up by that shit by now.
When do people finally understand that a ruthless minority which is in the spotlight does not make up the majority ? Billy Graham or the Imam in Germany who is calling for the Sharia ?
All assholes. Narrow-minded creeps of ANY "religion". But NOT talking in the names of the millions who have to suffer because those creeps get a PLATFORM.
And all just willful servants of the ..... 1%. Whether they know it or not.
Fuck that.
Stone-Eater Added Feb 28, 2017 - 3:24pm
BTW: My best friend and business partner is a Muslim. I'm atheist, and we discuss from Kant to Allah to Darwin. No sweat. Because we respect and tolerate each other.
The only Jew I know is one who is ashamed of the behavior of Israel towards the Palestinians. A nice, quiet guy, and a guy who would wish that he can openly say he's a Jew. But he's afraid.
Leroy Added Feb 28, 2017 - 7:00pm
All other things aside, it is useless to blame the 1%.  It will always be that way.  Capitalism didn't change it.  Communism didn't change it.  Nothing will change it in the long run.  There will always be people on the way up and people on the way down. 
Do we do nothing?  No.  We focus on the 20% that really matters.  If having a swimming pool in the backyard gives you the greatest happiness, then do it, just don't blow $2,000 a month eating out if it doesn't mean that much to you.  It's true that the best things in life are free.  Your kids would probably enjoy a day in the park just as much as a week's vacation at Disney World.  When you are doing really well in life, that is the time to sock it away.  It is not the time to spend more.  If our government could learn that, we could better ride out the rough times.  Instead, it's spend, spend, spend.  When hard times it, spend more.
Billy Roper Added Feb 28, 2017 - 9:43pm
Your country's borders have been opened up wide and you've been set up to become a minority in it by them, but your life has been enriched because you've been entertained along the way? God help us.
Leroy Added Mar 1, 2017 - 6:54am
A country's borders are a different matter, Billy.  A country that doesn't control its borders isn't a country.
Billy Roper Added Mar 1, 2017 - 7:28am
Well, from Hart-Celler forward, it's been Jews who have pushed for open borders so they won't be the only minority in an otherwise homogenous nation, because that made them more likely to be pointed out as the "other" and pogromed 109 times in other countries, over and over again.
George N Romey Added Mar 1, 2017 - 4:12pm
According to a 2015 survey the income needed to be in the 1% by state ranges from $678K in CT to $228K in AR.  Runner up on the high end is $555K in DC and runner up on the low end is $243K in West Virginia.  So you do not need to be outrageously rich to be in the 1% but chances are you are living quite comfortable.  
Patrick Writes Added Mar 2, 2017 - 12:39am
Good post. Feudalism is the economic / political system that's dominated most of human history. That's really unfair. 

The world today, compared to that, isn't so bad. The robber barons of the 19th century allowed the government to break up their companies and empires. The default pattern appears to be the strong get stronger and the weak become virtual slaves. 
The problem today is complexity. The rich hide their perks in it. Fancy lawyers understand most of it and exploit it on behalf of the rich. Most people don't even know the perks are there. It's hidden in the complexity (that's why the U.S. tax system never gets simplified, only becomes more complex). 
Opes Added Mar 2, 2017 - 8:52am
Reading this article brought back memories of loads of study and training that relates to the Pareto Principle.  Brilliant writing here by Leroy and by the respondents, it is
There are indeed natural occurrences in nature that we see and some we don't.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 2, 2017 - 1:11pm
it is useless to blame the 1%.
Yep. There always was and always will be a 1%. But before we weren't so aware of it.
Leroy Added Mar 2, 2017 - 7:17pm
Patrick writes, "The problem today is complexity. The rich hide their perks in it. Fancy lawyers understand most of it and exploit it on behalf of the rich. Most people don't even know the perks are there. It's hidden in the complexity (that's why the U.S. tax system never gets simplified, only becomes more complex). "
There's a lot of talk about a simplified, flat tax.  I think we will see it one day.  BUT, they will never eliminate the IRS or totally get rid of the existing system.  Ultimately, it will diverge into two separate federal taxes.  That's why I am against a flat tax, unless they totally eliminate the current system and the IRS.  Otherwise, it will only become more complicated and help the rich get richer.
Leroy Added Mar 2, 2017 - 7:22pm
"Reading this article brought back memories of loads of study and training that relates to the Pareto Principle.  Brilliant writing here by Leroy and by the respondents, it is intriguing."
Opes, the Pareto Principle gets drilled into your head when trying to troubleshoot equipment downtime.  It is what our maintenance uses on a daily basis.  Even so, I don't think most people have a clue about its ramifications. 
Leroy Added Mar 2, 2017 - 7:22pm
"Yep. There always was and always will be a 1%. But before we weren't so aware of it. "
Knowledge is power, Stoney.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 3, 2017 - 10:53am
Stone, I think the people that lived under kings were well aware that the kings were rich, and  they were poor.  The problem these days is that the politicians tell us the playing field is level, and it is not, it never was level.  It is more level now than it used to be, but still far from level.  Yes CEOs make lots more than the secretaries, but I bet they are closer together in pay, than  the serfs were to the kings. 
The Industrial Revolution at least gave people the chance to escape from the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.  As others have pointed out, a large % of the millionaires  in the USA are new ones, not inherited ones.  So it is still more likely you can make yourself rich in the USA, than winning the lottery, its just not  the level playing field  we  would  like it to be.  The sooner one realizes this, and accepts it, the  better off you will be physiologically.
Opes Added Mar 3, 2017 - 10:57am
It all somewhat seems to pertain to revealing relationships among how things are, how we all operate within a mix or spectrum of things. Awareness can avail a significant proactive process.
Leroy Added Mar 3, 2017 - 11:56am
King's ruled by divine right.  To go against a king was to go against god.  God was a tool of the rich and powerful.
We don't have rulers of divine right today, so big corporations and the powerful use the closest thing available--the government.  My biggest complaint is the corruption of the legal system that exists for the sole benefit of lawyers.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 3, 2017 - 11:56am
a large % of the millionaires  in the USA are new ones, not inherited ones.  So it is still more likely you can make yourself rich in the USA, than winning the lottery
Given you were born at the right place at the right time into the right family, and had the luck (lottery) to have THE idea resulting of a higher education. The "garage inventor" like Gates (actually he wasn't the inventor just the clever salesman) who made a fortune might be around 0.00000001%  of the population LOL
George N Romey Added Mar 3, 2017 - 3:02pm
Many of those millionaires started in the top 10% which meant the best schools and some connections. They simply went from the top 10% to the top 1%. 
Leroy Added Mar 3, 2017 - 5:03pm
Let me ask this; have we not benefited from the 1%?  Benjamin Franklin gave us libraries.  We have the Rockefellew Center, Carnegy Hall, the Annenberg Foundation, the Biltmore house, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and much more.
George N Romey Added Mar 3, 2017 - 5:14pm
Leroy yes historically we have and that was something that was I think uniquely different from the US and say the gilded age of Europe. However the new wealth doesn't appear to have that sense of "to whom much is given, much is expected."  I think much of that is our fault.  We idolize the super rich  now for their material wealth not what contributions they have made to society. As I said that began in the 1980s when suddenly the culture was obsessed with the lives of the uber wealthy and becoming a baron type became in vogue.  JR Ewing became the male hero not Ward Cleaver. 
Leroy Added Mar 3, 2017 - 7:48pm
To a large degree, George, I think we like to laugh at them.  On a slightly different twist, I was watching old episodes of Frazier last night.  It's a humorous show, IMHO.  We don't watch it because we identify with the 2 snobby, wealthy brothers who are out of touch with the common man; we watch it because we are amused by how they react to situations we face every day.  It is not a far cry from JR Ewing.  We laughed at how cruel and ruthless he could be and his decadent lifestyle and of those around him.  Sure, there were sociopaths who idolized him, but most laughed at him or were at least entertained by his antics.  JR Ewing no more became our hero than Frazier.
One thing that I think we could agree on is that life has become more of a struggle.  The middle-class is barely hanging on.  If it goes, it will take some of the upper 20% with it.
George N Romey Added Mar 3, 2017 - 8:38pm
Leroy yes I agree some of the top 20% will suffer. In fact, I can tell you from personal experience they already are.  This has gone far beyond Joe Lunchbox or the job foreman.  Believe me (not to take a line away from Trump) there are breathtaking numbers of people over 50 that ten years ago were making six figures and now are stocking store shelves at $12 an hour.  I am one of them and I meet people just like me just about everyday of my life.  I heard untold stories of homes being turned into Airbnb, foreclosures, martial issues, lost retirement and savings and on and on. I am working on a project with several others hopefully to get a book deal and what we are finding is far beyond what anyone in DC knows what's going on.
Yes we might laughed at JR Ewing but we also began to be envious of having a life in which money was never an issue.  Ward Cleaver was boring but Blake Carrington had it all and was seen as a total bad ass.  Then we got reality tv and social media in which people would now chase their 15 minutes of fame hoping it would turn into a lifetime of fame and riches.
Finally, remember up until the 1970s the super rich were not politically active.  That began to change in the 1970s and the movement was put on steroids with the election of RR in 1980.  Up until the 1970s there were very, very few pacs and lobbyists.  Today Washington is littered with both.  I remember in 1988 for the first time being told by my boss (I was in banking) that I would be "requested" to give to a designated PAC.  IIRC it was like 5% of my salary, which was only around $27K a year at that time.  Up till then I didn't even know what a PAC or a lobbyist meant.  
Mark Hunter Added Mar 4, 2017 - 3:00am
Well, then, I'd settle for just being in the top 20%.