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Understanding the 99%'s problem with the 1%

December 6, 2011 | 12:33 pm

1 percent 99 percent
What's so bad about the 1%, asked Bradley Schiller in a Sunday Op-Ed. "The Occupy Wall Street movement envisions the 1% as a monolithic cadre of entrenched billionaires who have a firm and self-serving grip on all the levers of the economy. But a closer look at that elite group reveals how untrue that perspective is," he wrote, highlighting such American dream icons as Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and pointing to how they've enriched our country. A new report about the 1% from Northwestern University would seem to agree that the 1% isn’t as bad as Occupy Wall Street protesters would have us believe. Tiffany Hsu outlines the findings over on our sister blog Money & Company:

Compared to the general public, members of the moneyed minority are much more likely to volunteer their time and money in charitable causes and participate in politics, according to the "Survey of Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good." [...]

Nine in 10 of the respondents said they volunteer, especially in areas such as education, poverty and the needy, private and community foundations and youth development. On average, members of the 1% donate about 4% of their income to charity, the report found. Those who inherited their wealth tend to give an even higher percentage.

Then again, writes Hsu, the 1% also thinks the federal budget deficit is a far bigger issue than unemployment. And entitlement programs? They'd rather we not expand them.

It's these sentiments that cut to the heart of the issue for 99 percenters. It's not that they dislike individual members of the 1% or that they don't appreciate their contributions to our country.  It's that our country isn't doing enough to stop the widening wealth gap, readers recently wrote on our discussion board, and is therefore enabling income inequality and prohibiting social mobility. You can read a curated round-up of their comments here.


A manifesto for the Occupy movement

Occupy L.A.: It's time for a bigger mission

Voices of the Occupation: What they'll take away

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: A protester carries a sign as she marches down Market Street during a day of action in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement on Dec. 2 in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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