Eliminating the 1%

I’m a blue-collar worker who lives in an economically depressed neighborhood. Many of my neighbors rely on government subsidies for sustenance. The other day, I was standing in line at the local dollar store and couldn’t help overhearing the dialog between the other patrons with the cashier.

There were three patrons. They all had already paid for their merchandise and were carping about having to wear a mask. Then one of them got on the soapbox and waxed sanctimonious: 

“I don’t know why they don’t fix this thing. I can tell you exactly how to do it, and they know it: Eliminate the 1%. You know that’s who’s behind this thing. All they need to do to put a stop to this is to eliminate the 1%.”

The audience unanimously agreed. I said nary a word, feigning being oblivious to the conversation. 

What a testament to the veracity of all the columns and books exposing the intentional dumbing-down of America. The orator was obviously intelligent and articulate, just misinformed.

If I were to cast my pearls before swine, I would have asked him. “Who are ‘they’? You do realize of course that the ‘they’ whom you think should eliminate the 1% are the 1% don’t you? And exactly how do you propose they eliminate themselves; guillotine, gallows, firing-squad, gas-chambers, furnaces? Should they just snap their fingers and say, ‘Problem solved’?”

We could fix this thing if Y’all would just commit suicide.


Some righteous businessperson gets fed up with the corruption in Washington and decides to leave his career and run for office to make a change. He gets elected. When he get there, he discovers that if he doesn’t play the game, all of his efforts get stonewalled. You have to go along to get along. He doesn’t want to be unproductive, so the compromise.

It’s called the moral arc of Washington: 1. Idealism 2. Pragmatism 3. Ambition, and 4. Corruption. Once they compromise, they get cooperation. After learning the ropes, they get good at it. Then they start playing for keeps (ambition). Have you ever noticed how many people leave a job making $90k a year to do a few stints in Washington making six digits as a public servant, only to retire as a multimillionaire? Weird.

I have great faith in the miraculous, but I can’t see how any mere mortal could become immersed in the machinations of such a corrupt system and emerge unscathed.

But let’s say it happened. Some do-gooder goes to Congress and remains uncorrupted. Let’s say it’s you. Then you find out that one of your constituents: an unemployed genius who lives by the largesse that is lavished upon him by you at the expense of those who actually contribute to society, suggests a panacea to all our woes: Simply eliminate yourselves. Would you sense a civic responsibility to make it happen? Or would you opt to become a lobbyist for someone whose legislation you just pushed through and make $10m/yr plus perks?

I can’t help but wonder what percentage of our culture actually believes this is rational thinking. Scary.

Television personality Bob Enyart used to reply to such gibberish by saying, “Witness the gross domestic product of the public education system.”

But let’s say it happened. Now what? Who’s going to replace the 1%? Billy Graham and Mother Teresa have both passed on. No matter who replaces the 1%, they become, by default, the new 1%. You can’t have a percentage without someone being at the top of the food chain.

Years ago, I stumbled upon a website called, “globalrichlist.com.” Apparently, it doesn’t exist anymore. It was a calculator: You would plug in your annual income and it would spit out where you ranked in the global percentile range. If you made more than $49k/yr, you were among the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people.

If it’s considered humanitarian to eliminate the 1%, you have to take into account the income of every human. It’s not humanitarian to just include the top 1% of Americans. That would be Americitarian. I’m a lowly peon in a factory and I fit in that group. If you stack up the benefits that some Americans receive for housing, food, education, and healthcare, there are those on the welfare rolls who would have to be eliminated as well.

I suspect one reason the website no longer exists is that income alone doesn’t equate to wealth. You can make $100k/yr and be $200k in debt. The actual calculation, according to CNBC is:

Credit Suisse defines net worth, or “wealth,” as “the value of financial assets plus real assets (principally housing) owned by households, minus their debts.”

That calculation is also skewed. It measures the wealth of “households.” If you have a lawyer married to a doctor, and their teenage kid makes more than either of them posting videos of themselves playing video games on YouTube, their household income doesn’t reflect their individual incomes.

Conversely, the pastor of my old church told a story about a girl from his hometown whose mother used to sew her dresses out of used flour sacks. As a teenager, she discovered that her parents were the wealthiest people in town. It scarred her emotionally for life. All three lived in the same household. Two were rich; one was poverty-stricken.

I searched in vain to find accurate numbers, but they were all contradictory depending on their data set.

You don’t have to live in an economically depressed neighborhood to encounter such ludicrous opinions. There‘s a university across the river from my house, stacked with academics pulling down six digits a year who think life is unfair.

It serves no purpose to try to convert them. It serves no purpose to criticize them. The only practical countermeasure is to pray for them. It’s their only hope.

Mike VanOuse is a Factoryjack and Bible-thumper from Lafayette, Indiana. More of his cogitations can be found at vanouse.com.

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