5/19/13 Note: “99% vs. 1%” is a metaphor for masses vs. the powerful few, and rarely refers to the mathematical 1% that is richer than the other 99%, or smarter, or luckier or whatever. I define the 1% as those who advocate or benefit from government abuse of power. They total much more than 1%.
“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” Fredrich Bastiat (1801 – 1850)
“—- and some succeed.” El Burro (1939 – )
Who are the 1%? Most people assume the 1% are the just the very rich. They’re wrong. Nobody puts Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood or Peyton manning in the 1%, though surely those three are in the top 1% of Americans as far as personal wealth is concerned.
It takes more than “rich” to make the 1% as I define them. Rich or poor, my 1% have to advocate a misuse of government power, for either personal enrichment or to pursue some ideological goal. Mayor Bloomberg of New York, a perfect example, wants the government to ban 16 oz. servings of “sugary” drinks, showing the whole world he’s a one percenter.
He’s also a hard-working, brilliant business man and a multibillionaire. He is definitely a superior individual in many ways, yet all too common when it comes to abusing power. Thomas Sowell has written books about elitists like Mayor Bloomberg e.g. Vision of the Anointed (1995), Intellectuals and Race (2013).
Government employees are not often thought of as belonging to the 1%, but as enthusiastic recipients of government favoritism, they are at the top of the list. Remember the noisy, trashing mobs that took over the capital building in Madison, Wisconsin, when governor Walker proposed public worker reforms?
As more and more state and local governments face bankruptcy because of the overly generous pay and pensions of public employees, we can expect more such demonstrations. What these public employees are really saying as they march, trash and threaten, is that they are ENTITLED to be overpaid, underworked, impossible to fire, retired too early and retired too generously.
All of us know people in their fifties, or even in their forties, who are retired public employees. I don’t put all of them in the 1%, just those who think it’s perfectly fair to work thirty years and comfortably retire for perhaps another thirty, and all on the taxpayers’ dime.
The most egregious public employee abuse I can think of was in Bell, California, a city of 37,000 with, according to Wikipedia, 25% living below the poverty level. The city manager, Robert Rizzo, was squeaking by on an annual salary of $787,637 and was no doubt dreading the thought of retiring on only $600,000 per year.
His assistant city manager was being paid $376, 000 per year, the chief of Police $457,000, and four of five city council members were getting $100,000 for their part time jobs. I wonder about the fifth council member: Stupid or honest? Google up Bell, CA, for the details. The last I looked, nobody was yet in jail, but Rizzo’s pension had been cut to $50,000. That’ll teach him!
Also, you’ll have to look very, very hard to discover what political party all these benighted one percenters belong to. The media gurus no doubt thought such a detail was unimportant. Right. Hint: It wasn’t the Libertarian Party.
Unfortunately, what went on in Bell, CA, is going on all over the country, just not as audaciously. To borrow from the Declaration of Independence, our government has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of bureaucrats to harass our people and eat out our substance. Another swarm is on the horizon marching under the banner of Obamacare.
Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, a Libertarian think tank in Albuquerque, noted in his newsletter on August 11, 2010, that a study from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed federal workers earn over twice their private sector counterparts.
Gessing’s memorable conclusion: “John Edwards was right about one thing when he ran for president several years ago. There are indeed ‘two Americas’. The two Americas are not specifically rich and poor, but government workers vs. the rest of us.”