There is a growing movement of anger towards the wealthy. No one has been more openly vilified in recent memory than “the 1%.”
The 1% are evil, we are told. They have made their money on the backs of the less fortunate.
As Fred Smith wrote in in his latest post, “The new one percent are nameless, faceless, and colorless shadowy figures who live in guarded enclaves or a place named Wall Street.”
Smith points to French economist, Thomas Piketty, who claims, “we are entering a time not unlike the French Revolution when the masses took to the streets not in protest but in bloody revenge for being duped, used and abandoned.”
According to Piketty, there is a just war on the horizon. A war waged on the elusive wealthy who have earned what’s coming to them.
I have just one question for Smith and Piketty.
I have been astounded that the conversation never gets this far.
Truly. Astounded. Think about this…
Nearly 100% of the people who pontificate about “the evil 1%” don’t realize that they themselves are in the global 1%.
To earn a ranking in the global 1%, you have to earn an annual income of $34,000. Work a minimum wage job in America for 15 hours a week, and even that gets you into the global 20%. My TEDx Talk goes into these numbers in more detail.
Relatively speaking, ranking in the global 1% is a life of opulent luxury. It’s a level of status and access to opportunity that outweighs 99% of humans on the planet and 99.99% of all humans that have ever existed.
However, those living in the global 1% have managed to blind themselves to the billions of people that they themselves outrank.
It’s A Fair Comparison
Many will read the previous section and claim, “it’s not a fair comparison!”
The argument will go something like this: “I might make $50,000 a year, but I’m drowning in debt and living in a city that’s so expensive that I can barely afford rent.”
I’m genuinely sorry to hear that. I’m not personally in that situation but I’m sure it must be hard.
With that said, I have two questions for you.
(1) The first question is: do you have electricity, running water and internet access? If so, consider these stats about people who are alive, on our planet, right now:
- 1 billion people don’t have electricity
- 2 billion people don’t have running water
- 4 billion people don’t have internet access
(2) The second question is: do you have a way out of your situation? Almost everyone reading this can answer “yes.” It might take 1, 2 or 10 years but there is hope for you.
You might think it’s unfair that those living in the “American 1%” get to ride around in yachts and throw extravagant parties while you’re working at a soulless job.
But your basic needs are met and you have hope for a brighter future. How fair is that?
Let’s Drive The Point Home
I started an organization called DonorSee that serves people living in the poorest half of the world. Every single day I see stories of people living unimaginably difficult lives. This is just one of those stories.
This is Mama Ahmad from Tanzania. Her daughter died in childbirth leaving her to take care of 10 kids on her own. In order to provide for them, she spends every day breaking rocks with a small hammer so she can sell them to house builders in her village.
Mama Ahmad spent yesterday breaking rocks. She is breaking rocks today. And she will be breaking rocks tomorrow.
But let’s be clear about one thing.
You may find the life of this woman shocking. You might think it’s unfair that one lady has to carry such a heavy burden. But don’t lose sight of this: Mama Ahmad’s life is what’s normal on our planet. For the poorest half of the world, her life looks common.
It’s only us in the global 1% who can’t stand the thought of her life. Most people on earth don’t know anything but it.
So while Mama Ahmad is spending her days breaking rocks, us in the global 1% have some thinking to do.
Will we spend our lives focusing on the small sliver of humans that have more than us? Or, will we devote our personal time and energy to serving the billions who have less than us?
Put another way: will we continue to cast stones while others are breaking them just to survive?