A recent article -calling it an article is a bit of a stretch actually, as it is an extremely short text- by the CATO institute tries to put the recent protests against inequality in the USA by trying to make middle class citizens feel they are privileged in relation to the rest of the world. The writer looks at some annual income data and reaches the conclusion that making more than 32k $ a year places an individual in the top 1% of the world’s population. This got a fair amount of comments in the economy Reddit, where some defended this article made many protests invalid or self-centered.
The CATO institute is a right-wing think tank created to fight any kind of push towards regulation or redistribution. This allows us some perspective on what the text is trying to achieve, but it is an interesting piece nonetheless. Are we being selfish? Are we actually privileged and shouldn’t be protesting? Let us analyze that, check some data, and see what is really happening.
Free market Capitalism has become the dominant economic doctrine and is the way global economy is run. In this system, a capitalist -someone who has a certain capital, that is, money or means of production- can invest it in an enterprise, be successful, and expand their capital. They can also be unsuccessful and lose part of their capital, in which case they could become dependent on their labour alone. Capital acts as a multiplier of sorts: a sufficient amount of capital will make any small effort enough to achieve success. What we earn every year can have an effect on our capital, of course, but what really places us in a better or worse place in a capitalist system is the capital we have accumulated. The top 1% is determined by what a person has, not by what a person makes. The question, therefore is what we should possess to be part of this minority. This is a piece of data the article fails to mention. I was able to find the reason without having to look that hard, and it speaks loud enough to be a good way to end this post:
The threshold to be part of the global one percent is having 770k$.