Liberal Arts Blog — Who Are the 99%? Who Are the 1%? Who Says?
Liberal Arts Blog — Monday is the Joy of Math, Statistics, Shapes, and Numbers Day
Today’s topic — Who Are the 99%? Who Are the 1%? Who Says?
Who are the 99%? Who are the 1%? Depends on whom you ask. Today, three discordant riffs on the topic. The third is the perspective of the Hells Angels. The second is that of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Sanders and Warren presidential campaigns. The first is my own but has precedents in Dante and the Old Testament. And elsewhere. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE 99.999% THAT MATTERS — the straight and narrow path to a brighter future
1. Our DNA is 99.999% the same. Black, white. Rich, poor. Same nature. Same needs. Same wants. Money, sex, power, love, family, friends, food, clothing, shelter. Same A, same G, same C, same T.
2. The first premise is the most important premise.
3. Start with a premise of “we” and you are looking up a shaft to sun, moon, planets, and stars.
NB: Start with a premise of “us versus them” and you are looking down into a dark rabbit hole of envy and hate, described in detail in Dante’s Inferno, but summed up quite simply in the story of Cain and Abel. Dante just wrote a long footnote.
PROUD TO BE THE 99% — THE 2011 OCCUPY WALL STREET “MOVEMENT”
1. The “We are the 99%” slogan has many etymologies. One traces the term to a 2011 article by Nobel-Prize Winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in the magazine Vanity Fair. The title: “Of the 1%, by the 1% for the 1%.”
2. This was an implicit reference to Abraham’s Lincoln’s famous line in the Gettysburg address: “Of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The article denounced the concentration of wealth, income, and power in the US.
2. Others argue that the guy who should get the credit for the phrase is Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, the Bible of “progressive” American history textbooks.
3. “To emphasize the commonality of the 99 percent, to declare deep enmity of interest with the 1 percent, is to do exactly what the governments of the United States, and the wealthy elite allied to them-from the Founding Fathers to now-have tried their best to prevent.” (Howard Zinn, 1960)
NB: “Economist Thomas Sowell noted in November 2011 that IRS data shows the majority of those in the top 1% of income are there for a short period, and that age was more associated with wealth concentration than was income. Sowell further argued that analyzing data about abstract categories (like income brackets) should not be confused with analyzing data about individuals (who can move in and out of various abstract categories, like income brackets, throughout their lives):”It is easier and cheaper to collect statistics about income brackets than it is to follow actual flesh-and-blood people as they move massively from one income bracket to another over the years. More important, statistical studies that follow particular individuals over the years often reach diametrically opposite conclusions from those reached by statistical studies that follow income brackets over the years.”
PROUD TO BE ONE PERCENTERS — THE HELLS ANGELS (1947)
1. The Hells Angels, a violent motorcycle club, called itself a One Percent Club and wore a 1% patch on their leather jackets.
2. The 1% meant that they were proud of being the 1% of motor cyclists who were “trouble makers.” The patch meant you were the “baddest of the bad.” The 99% were the law-abiding, the losers. The club was a tribe. Loyalty was everything. Mess with one us — you die.
3. The original Hells Angels were for the most part World War Two veterans with PTSD. The name comes from a film by Howard Hawks from 1930 entitled Hell’s Angels about World War One aviators. During World War II “Hell’s Angels” was a nickname for bomber crews.
NB: “When we do right, no one remembers. When we do wrong, no one forgets.” (One of the mottos of the one percenters.) The “band of brothers” idea goes back to the “St. Crispin’s Speech” in Shakespeare’s “Henry V.”
Thanks to Earle Pughe, musician and former motor cycle mechanic, for enlightening me on the Hells Angels.
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