by Jack Minor –
A common refrain among protestors at the various “Occupy” movements is that they are the 99 percent. A report listing average wage earners for the world shows that many of the protestors are actually the 1 percent.
The basis for saying they are the 99 percent is that a person making over $380,000 is among the top 1 percent of all wage earners in America. However Morgan Housel, writing for the Motley Fool points out that when one expands that principle to world income levels an interesting thing occurs.
Branko Milanovic, a World Bank economist, looked at worldwide wages and discovered the income needed to qualify for the richest 1 percent is significantly lower.
In order to be among the top one percent of the world’s wage earners, you would need to only make $34,000 a year.
This is the finding Milanovic presented in a 2010 book “The Have and the Have-Nots.” What is fascinating is when we go down the income ladder, the figures show just how well off Americans are compared to the rest of the world.
In order to be in the top half of all wage earners, you would need to earn just $1,225. A person earning over $20,000 is in the top 10 percent of all wage earners globally.
Critics contend that these figures do not account for cost of living differences between nations. Milankovic acknowledges that, and says, that to adjust for purchasing power parity, those in India should adjust their income by three fold, while Western Europe should discount incomes by 10-20 percent.
According to the World Bank, 95 percent of the world’s population earns less than $10 a day. The U.N. similarly reports that “nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, earn less than $2 a day.”
Based on these figures, many in the various Occupy movements around the country are actually the one percent and almost all are in the top 10 percent. Photographs at various sites reveal that members have smart phones and wear designer clothes. In New York, Occupy members at Zuccotti Park purchased a big screen TV for movie night. These are luxuries unheard of in the majority of the world.
The Greeley Gazette attempted to contact the Occupy Greeley movement via e-mail on its website for an official comment on these figures several days ago. At the time of this printing, there has been no response.
Members of the movement were also asked about the movement’s demands that everyone be guaranteed a living wage regardless of employment. Individuals at the Occupy Greeley site at Lincoln Park said they supported that goal as well as all the goals of the Occupy movement.
The Gazette asked if every single person was guaranteed $20 an hour whether choosing to work or not, what would be the incentive to go to work since a person who didn’t work would get the same as a person who was working?
Individuals at the site said, “We are not advocating freeloaders. We believe that everyone has something to contribute to society.” When pressed, they said the incentive would be to earn more than $20 an hour. “If you want to move up and earn more money, you can do so. If someone wants to be content to remain at the bottom with $20 an hour, that’s that person’s choice. We believe most will want to earn more than the minimum.”