I was reading this article on NPR’s website about how the 1% are not too unlike the 99%. The article was based on this Gallup poll and as I was reading it, I saw something that I thought was pretty interesting. These numbers are taken from between January 2009 and November 2011 and are based on income levels measuring strictly those who make under $500,000 a year and those who make over that amount.
When it comes down to political affiliation, the 1% and the 99% are pretty well matched. 33% of the 1% are Repubs while 28% of the 99% are as well. Break that down a little more and the numbers sway in a slightly different direction where 39% of the 1% is reported to be conservative but 40% of the 99% are as well (I know, that was a little surprising to me too).
The poll measures a few other categories however the biggest difference between those of us in the 99% and those in the remaining 1% is an advanced education. The analysis shows that 72% of the wealthiest Americans have a college degree compared to 31% of the rest of us. I always knew this but now it seems like it’s official.
Here is more or less where I was going to continue giving you my opinion on how the “us” versus “them” mentality was getting us no where and how we need to find another avenue to follow yadda yadda yadda but my mind took a left turn and I couldn’t get that train of thought back.
I started to dwell on the part where education was the biggest separator between “us” and “them” (from now on “us” meaning those of us in the 99% versus “them” in the remaining 1%). There are a lot of issues we can blame on the corporate pigs running the banks and other various corporations but is this something that we can fully blame on them? Well… yes… and no.
First the “Yes” part:
We can’t deny that a college education is expensive. Even on the community college level it can be intimidating for someone who doesn’t have any assets to venture off into the valley of the shadow of student loans. It took me almost 6 years to pay off a loan from a school that doesn’t exist anymore (ain’t that some shit)! Trying to get into an Ivy League school has got to be some far-fetched dream for most of the people wanting a degree.
Yes, there are many scholarships available but any worth applying for have more requirements than what most applicants can provide. The alternative to this are these micro scholarships that make you write five hundred word essays on why you think they should give you their $100. How many $50, $100 and $500 scholarships do you think you need to be able to pay for community college?
Let’s face it, the majority of the people out there making $500,000 or more a year in salary probably didn’t go to community college (athletic jocks and jockettes need not apply). These are people who have the money to earn their degrees in colleges where the board is made up of millionaires who rub elbows with mommy or daddy in some posh country club.
Wealthy alumni sitting on the board of some high broo ha ha college round table, looking down amongst the applicants and seeing the number of contributions and donations made by the family before even looking at the name. You can’t tell me this isn’t happening! Sure, every now and again someone is thrown a bone to block the naysayers but it doesn’t happen nearly enough.
It doesn’t stop there. High power, fortune 500 companies and their higher than thou CEO’s enjoy giving rich little Timmy Junior the direct route to the VP chair even if it means making up the position. How many VP’s does one company need? President and Vice President, that’s it right? WRONG! VP of marketing, VP of accounting, VP of operations, VP of VP’s WTF!?! I admit, I may be off on some of this but not by much. I’m willing to guess this kind of stuff goes on more than you may know or care to think about.
How is the average community collage graduate going to get his or her foot in the door if the deck is so very stacked against them? I truly applaud those that have been able to pull forward and triumph but the fact of the matter is that those of us in the 99% that actually stick around long enough to get our college degrees don’t have the same amount of opportunities as those collage grads from the 1%.
And now the “No” part (way shorter than the “Yes” part):
On the other side of the argument is this question. Can we honestly blame the richest people in America for our lack of advanced education? Obstacles being what they are, it is our job to conquer them is it not? No matter how hard it may seem, we are the only ones that can realize our dreams. I just wish that more people could see that.
I’m not going to go into a long and drawn out lecture of how we must grab hold of our own destiny and make our dreams come true, I’ll leave that to the keynote speakers at the graduation ceremonies. You should be old enough by now to realize that no one is going to give you anything (at least not for free). Fighting and clawing your way to the top from nothing and rubbing it in the face of the “privileged” should be reward enough (although affording your own private jet is nice too).
The bottom line is that wealthy people take care of their own (the rich get richer right?). The only reason why this is so apparent is because the not so rich are too busy stepping on each other to get their own proverbial “nut” that they ignore each other altogether. Lets face it, if you have something that few people have (wealth being relative), you wouldn’t want to just give a chunk of it up to someone who has nothing right?
I mean, you made that first million through blood and sweat and tears and here come your deadbeat friends and relatives who have way less playing the “family” or the “old friend” card ready to take some of it from you under the guise of “loyalty” or “entitlement”. If your smart, you’ll try to preserve what you fought for and that’s exactly what the wealthy do. Yes it may seem vain or selfish on the surface but is it really? No it isn’t. I’m not saying not to take care of those you love, I’m just saying be mindful of where you drop your pennies.
Haters come in all shapes and sizes and in all social standings. Is it any wonder why those in the 99% who wish to pursue a place in the top 1% find such a difficult time getting there when instead of encouragement, your fellow 99%er is bringing you down with words like, “sell out” or “poser”?
In my sad little opinion, no matter how much or how little you have, the 99% and the 1% have one more thing in common, the preservation of their wealth. Yes the rich will continue to get rich in most cases but the poor doesn’t necessarily need to get poorer. I guess the “us” versus “them” mentality isn’t getting us anywhere and we do need to find another avenue to follow.
*Please comment if you are making $500,000 plus a year and only went to community college, we’d like to hear your story.