Protesters occupying Wall Street in lower Manhattan have begun to identify themselves as the "Ninety Nine Percent." But who then are the One Percent?
The One Percent are the Super Rich, whom House Majority Leader John Boehner labels the "Job Creators." Taxing them, according to most Republicans, would punish the very individuals who can do most to revive our struggling economy. But are the ultra-rich entrepreneurs, innovators, or catalysts for job growth?
Many researchers, like Thomas Shapiro of Brandeis University, conclude that the vast majority of personal wealth in the United States is inherited, not earned. In Who's Running America? Thomas Dye discovered that by the latter part of the 20th century, only 4% of the richest men in the nation had struggled up from the bottom, just a tenth as many as at the start of century. Economist Laurence Kotlikoff of Yale calculates that 80% of the total wealth in America is inherited--and as we know, that wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, with the top One Percent of U.S. households owning nearly half of all investment assets.
Steve Jobs, whose father was a Coast Guard vet and machinist, was apparently the exception to the rule, a billionaire who was self-made and actually created the jobs his name suggests. Most of the ultra-rich (like the Bush family and the Kennedys) got their money the old fashioned way: they inherited it.
The Wall Street protesters are justifiably fed up with a system that rewards the accidents of birth more than it rewards hard work, brains and personal initiative. They're tired playing a rigged game where your parent's net worth is a better predictor of whether you'll go on to college than your own grade point average. They're asking whether the One Percent, who were born sucking on silver spoons and continue to suck up most of the nation's assets, aren't simply parasites on the economy.
Don't you think they have a point?
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