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.