Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

We are the 1 Percent

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Recently I was made aware of a video that cleverly illustrates the distribution of wealth in America. You can watch it below.

If you are unable to see the video, you can click here to watch it at YouTube.

We are the 99 Percent, Right?

The main point of the video is to graphically show you what it means for the top 1% of people in the United States to possess most of the wealth. The information is rather startling.

It is a video about economic and social disparity. In fact, it tells us that the top 1% have more wealth than the bottom 90% combined. It is a video to help us pause and reconsider our priorities in America.

And of course the premise is that most of us are not the top 1%. Most of the wealth is not possessed by us. The rest of us are the 99%. And in case you didn’t know, this is where the term “We are the 99 percent” comes from.

I wouldn’t, and can’t, argue with what the video is pointing out. Within our own country there is disparity. Some of our problems could improve if this were to change.

When faced with these statistics, it is hard not to ask, why do the top 1% need so much? What do they do with it? Why don’t they give more? Why don’t they reach out more?

But the video leaves one important bit of information out.

We are the 1 Percent

Comparison can be a dangerous thing because how you feel depends on what you are comparing yourself to. The video compares us to each other. And as we look around, we see many who have so much more. And it doesn’t feel fair. It doesn’t seem right.

But what happens if we compared ourselves not to other Americans, but to the entire world?

Go to and enter your annual income into their calculator. Before you do, I’ll let you know that if you make more than $32,000 a year, then you are one of the 1% incomes earners in the world. And of course that means 99% of people in the world make less money than you.

That’s all it takes to be the 1 percent. I know $32,000 a year doesn’t sound like much, but to the other 6.9 billion people in the world, it sounds like a fortune. It sounds like riches. It sounds unbelievable.

photo by Eric Parker

photo by Eric Parker

Sure, if we compare ourselves to other Americans, we are the 99 percent. And that’s an easy number for us to hide behind.

But if we compare ourselves to most people in the world, we are filthy stinking rich.

And I bet these others, if they saw a video showing how much we have, they would start asking the same questions. Why do the top 1% need so much? What do they do with it? Why don’t they give more? Why don’t they reach out more?

What Would a Love Distribution Chart Look Like?

Another important issue  the video doesn’t tell you is that life isn’t about money.

Yes, money is very important. It makes the world go round. We need it. Money is how we eat. Money is how we pay for healthcare. Money is how we buy clothes. It’s how things get done.

But most of us are stingy with something that is even more important to share than money. Most of us hold back our love.

We hold back when we could do more. We give expecting something in return. Too often, instead of giving, we take. We keep our love to ourselves.

Perhaps if we were to become more charitable with our love, we wouldn’t have to be talking so much about what we do with our money.

What is your take on the video? Do you consider yourself the 99 percent or the 1 percent?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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16 Replies

  1. Jeremy,

    Please keep carrying the message. I’m in the 1% and can see a global need for change. I have been researching culture change in traditionally set organizations, but I can see the parallel in this story. How to make the shift? This is very difficult, specifically if we just look to the US for the big picture.

    I’m an ultimate optimist and am eternally driven, however your stories make me want to live a better one for sure.

    You may not know the reach you have, but I selfishly am asking you to keep it up. Anytime you can make someone pause and take an introspective look, you’re doing something.


    Robert I.

  2. I love the questions you ask. So often we need to shift angles when we look at the reality of life. As much as money is a necessity I think we too often measure ourselves with the measuring stick of finances and not love. Definitely some thought provoking information.

  3. Thanks for the fantastic reminder. It’s something I’ve thought about as the Occupy Wall Street and 1% protests were going on. We’re richer than most people in other countries could ever dream about. And we take it for granted.

  4. I was waiting for the video to compare America to the rest of the world. It didn’t. I’m glad you did. 🙂

  5. Jeremy Statton

    I think the video has a worthwhile point, but I also think that comparing ourselves to the world is important to. What we compare ourselves to affects how we choose to respond.

  6. Jeremy Statton

    those protests may be valid and worthwhile, but there are other things to think about too.

  7. Glenda

    In the 1980s I spent 18 months in Kenya. It changed my life…in many ways. It gave me a different way to view wealth. Instead of comparing myself to others in America and feeling comparatively poor, I am aware of how incredibly rich I am on a worldwide scale. It’s made me consider what things are truly needs. I have more than I truly need. I have more than I can justify having while others have so little. But now what? How do I transfer what I have to those truly in need? While in Kenya, I saw emergency food supplies mischanneled. While in Kenya, I also saw how charity and giving can harm rather than help the receivers. If I give away my savings, and thus cannot care for myself in case of a medical emergency or as I age, have I done a good thing or a foolish thing? Questions, questions, questions.

  8. It’s a good video and the points are worth considering. But there are others aren’t there. Shoot some video for us over the next 11 months, okay?

  9. the protests may have a valid point, but it’s not the only point nor the only thing to think about.

  10. If we could measure how much love we give and receive, those numbers might be startling. The video assumes money changes our lives. It certainly can, but not always in good ways.

  11. I’m glad you are an optimist. Change doesn’t happen in the middle of pessimism. Pessimists give up.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  12. Intended good does not always turn out that way, doe it. Lots of questions. Few answers. Thankfully we don’t need all of the answers to start loving and start doing. Thanks, Glenda.

  13. I’ll shoot footage. No promises on being able to do anything creative with it. I’m a writer not a videographer. 😉

  14. Samuel John

    I thought the same thing when I saw that video. We are so blessed in America, even if we’re the 1%.

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