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Let’s put some numbers to those percents.

The “top 1%” is a good phrase to use when talking about the Tax Cut debate because it underscores the point that a very, very few people in the US are doing very, very well at the expense of everyone else. But statistics have a way of trivializing numbers, and not knowing the numbers can make it easy to underestimate exactly who you’re going up against.

With that in mind, I’d like to paint for you a picture of exactly how large 1% actually is.

Caveat time: we’re making a few assumptions here:

  • First, all population data is taken from 2009.
  • Second, we’re assuming that the top 1% of income in the US correlates perfectly to 1% of the population in the United States.
  • Finally, we’re assuming my math is flawless.

In truth, the only solid fact you can count on in that list is the population data from 2009. I was a theater major in college, my math is both dramatic and unreliable. All that aside, let’s move on.

Take the populations of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, and add them together. There are still more people in the top 1% income bracket. Take the populations of the states of Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont. There are still more people in the top 1% income bracket. The combined populations of the states of Hawaii and Alaska equal roughly 2/3 of the population of the people in the top 1% income bracket.

As of July 2009, the official US population was 307,006,550 (Three hundred seven million, six thousand, five hundred fifty). 1% of that population is 3,070,066 (rounded up). That is three million, seventy thousand, sixty-six.

Compared to the total population of the United States, that’s a small number.  But it exceeds the combined population of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, only it’s a population of people who make at least one million dollars a year.

If all the rich people kicked everyone out of Kansas and then moved there, Kansas’ population would grow by about 200,000. And then the poorest person in that state would be making one million dollars a year.

That’s the political group George W. Bush called “his base,” and we need to face facts – that’s a hell of a base. Any one of those guys will make more money in a year than I will ever see. They have resources, and a lot of them (not all of them) are using those resources to make sure they not only keep what they have, but get more.

I don’t want to be alarmist… but you should be alarmed.

Assuming, of course, that my math is right.

Originally posted to The Baptist Death Ray on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:14 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
    "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
    - Edward Young

    by The Baptist Death Ray on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:14:08 AM PST

  •  I suspect that most (0+ / 0-)

    of us know this. Also the expression has become a useful form of shorthand for those that actively work to enrich themselves while and by keeping their boots firmly planted on our necks. Saves a lot of words.

    Just because they give you a seat at the table doesn't mean that they want to feed you.

    by stevej on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:23:42 AM PST

  •  I think you (7+ / 0-)

    need to look at as the top 1% of all tax payers not the entire population which includes dependent children. The number is still  not small, but would be more accurate.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:23:57 AM PST

    •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

      And sometimes wage data is for individuals and sometimes for households.  If the 1% data is for households, the total shrinks even more.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:29:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yup. I think actual tax (0+ / 0-)

      payer numbers are roughly 1/3.  So you are talking 1 million give or take (probably give).  That means there are nearly as many deer in Pennsylvania as the top 1% taxpayers.  Oh my?

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:35:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hm. But if you're going to do that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        some other george

        ... then you would need to cut ALL populations the same way. If only the actual taxpayer numbers matter, then they're the only ones that matter all around, so you would cut the state population totals similarly. Wouldn't you?

        In which case, the comparison would still be valid... wouldn't it?

        The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
        "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
        - Edward Young

        by The Baptist Death Ray on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:38:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What? (0+ / 0-)

          I think you are getting lost in your statistics.  If you want to guess at the number of taxpayers in the top 1% then you need to determine what the larger number is - that is the total of all taxpayers.  When you do that you will find that 1% is roughly 1.3 million people.  You wouldn't reduce the total number of people living in Montana that is your total number.  The only reason to reduce the number from total people living in the US to total number of taxpayers in the US is then you can get a more accurate count for your percentage.

          BTW your math was not incorrect per se.  Only the logic you used in coming up with your starting point.  The math you did was perfectly fine - you just got the wrong answer.  On a test you might get some credit for your work - but only from a kind teacher.

          "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

          by newfie on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:55:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  top1% starts around 380K (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newfie, Vacationland, Ezekial 23 20

    Not 1 million as you indicated.

    380K is still pretty healthy, but not as dramatic (cough, sorry) as your scenario in Kansas.

    •  hmmm... foiled! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      I had thought the top 1% of the earners who were earning more than the bottom 90% of the population combined were starting out at 1 million or more?

      380k was the top 2% I thought. No?

      Well... that's what happens when you give a theater major a calculator.

      The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
      "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
      - Edward Young

      by The Baptist Death Ray on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:30:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i'm just in here to say (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills, newfie, tardis10

    your username is highlarious!

    Die with your boots on. Gonna try? Well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

    by Cedwyn on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:30:23 AM PST

  •  I'm not sure I understand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills

    the point.  Its still a tiny percentage of all voters, and while they tend to concentrate, they can never approach a voting majority.  

    And if there number was smaller still or slightly larger, it wouldn't change the real problem, its their money that votes and carries the attributes of power.   We would never let the population of state of Kansas determine the fate of the whole United States (ie, cede control of the government to them) but we have let the equivalent number of rich people have that control.

    Mayve we're stupid and complacent, but we've let it happen.  And we apparently are content as a nation to blame poor people for what rich people do to us.

  •  You are being an alarmist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    and I'm not nor should I be alarmed.  You can play a numbers comparison game all you want.  Although your 3.7 million figure is about 3 times too high - it is somewhere around 1.4 million people - comparing that number to the populations of our least populous States is useless.  There are 8 and a half million people in New York City.  That is a larger number than the populations of some 39 States.  The population of New York City is larger than the combined population of the last 8 or 9 States.  What does that mean?  It means a lot of people live in New York City.

    "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

    by newfie on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:49:16 AM PST

  •  When I read this sort of stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newfie, Inspector Javert

    I'm left feeling pissed off that places like SD and Wyoming get 2 Senators ...just like NY or Cali does.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:53:36 AM PST

    •  I had the same thought. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      Our founding fathers really just wanted to get the deal done so they compromised.  Then the morphed into Democrats.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 07:58:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand them not wanting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        newfie

        to have big states run roughshod over small states.

        And in the original 13 things might have worked well with 2 per, but now the small states are running roughshod over the big states.

        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

        by Inspector Javert on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 08:15:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  only $6trillion of GDP is earned income-- (0+ / 0-)

    the rest is unearned, corporate profits, and various overseas transfers.

    therefore, the top 1% calculations are horribly skewed to favor the uber-rich b/c they only take earned income into account.

    The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.

    by Zacapoet on Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 08:26:36 AM PST

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