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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who is what?

I haven't been going out of my way to follow the situation going on with Occupy Wall Street (OWS).  Despite that, I'm still learning more about this than I ever wanted to know.

Of course, the usual folks are practically creaming their jeans over this US version of the "Arab Spring."  Somehow, they forget that revolutions have a tendency to leave hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people dead and many more struggling.

For now, there's just one area I want to focus on about the OWS folks and their supporters.  That is their "we are the 99%" thing.

According to these folks, there're two types of people in the world.  There's the 1%, who are all evil capitalists stealing money from and taking advantage of everyone else, with the everyone else comprising the 99%.  They've even got a website up where people share their tales of woe, which is all because of those dastardly 1%'ers, forcing them to take on loans they can't pay, buy houses they can't afford, and generally keeping a boot on their throats.

There's a slight problem with this issue.

First, though they talk about that 1% being comprised of "the rich" who control almost all the money in the world (they tend to swing back and forth between "the world" and "the US" a lot), that 1% represents the wealthiest of the wealthy.  A few years back, the numbers were that 5% of people controlled 95% of the wealth.  Then I heard it was 2% and 98%.  Now it's 1% and 99%.

The point being that that 1% is a tiny minority of the world's richest people.  According to the Forbes list of billionairs, the No. 1 slot is held by a Mexican named Carlos Slim Helu and his family ($74 billion).  He's a self-made billionaire, meaning that he didn't inherit his wealth or win it in the lottery, nor did he get make it as an employee of someone else.  He started his own business.  No. 2 on the list is Bill Gates ($59 billion), another self-made billionaire.  Warren Buffet  ($39 billion) weights in at No. 3, and is another self-made billionaire.  No. 4 gives us Bernard Arnault ($41 billion), a purveyor of luxury goods.  No. 5 takes us to Larry Ellison  ($33 billion), yet another self-made billionaire.  No 6 brings us India's Laksmi Mittal ($31.1 billion), No. 7 is the Spanish Amancio Ortega ($31 billion), No. 8 is Brazillian, Eike Batista ($30 billion), No. 9 brings us back to India with Mukesh Ambani ($27 billion), and No. 10 brings us back to the US with Christy Walton and family ($24.5 billion).  That's just the top 10.  You can see the full list of the world's billionaires here.  The list of the top 400 Americans is here. 

What you'll note about these people is that they are all billionaires.  And only the top numbers of these people, worldwide, consist of the evil 1% of the world's wealthiest people.

You know what that means?

The 99% the OWS protesters claim to represent includes all the millionaires and low-end billionaires that didn't make it to the top 1%.

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