You are the 1%

You’re working as a busboy, and your boss catches you drawing on a napkin one day. He’s impressed with your talent, and asks you to design a new logo for the restaurant.

Soon you’re designing the menus, ads and the website. Your boss refers a friend to you, and soon you’re doing graphic work for his friend as well. After a couple more clients, you’re working around the clock, bussing tables 10 hours a day, and staying up until the wee hours learning every graphic technique you can find while your friends stop asking you to parties.

You take a huge risk and quit your job. While starving for months and being threatened with eviction several times, you study web development and teach yourself PHP programming. You spend your days emailing potential clients to no avail. You are about to give up when you land your biggest client yet. After a few more months of touch and go, you slowly begin to catch up with your rent.

Years go by, and you find client after client. You are 100% committed to excellence and deliver quality work, on deadline and under budget even if you have to sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. Referrals keep coming, but one day you reach a point when a client calls and you simply cannot take on any more work.

You consider raising your prices, but you do not want to do this for the loyal clients who have stuck with you through thick and thin. You also don’t want to turn down business. So you take the plunge and hire someone.

You spend weeks training them and paying them pretty much all your income before you find they’re not going to work out. Now you’ve lost all the money you paid them, and you’re redoing all the crap work they did, and working harder than ever. You are living on credit cards. But you know adding people is your only option to move forward.

So you try another, and another, and finally find someone who wants to do a good job. After months of training, they are actually saving you time. After another month, rather than taking money out of your pocket, you’re actually making more money with them than without them. You pay yourself $12/hour so you can afford to hire better quality people.

You add another, and another, and move into a small office instead of working out of your apartment living room. You are landing bigger and bigger clients as you expand into creating well-designed web apps for major clients.

After a few more years, you start making as much as your employees, and finally, a little more. You have just finally paid off your massive credit card debt you used to finance computers and software for your employees. One night, you are looking at your books, and you realize your little 4 person firm will bring in $1,200,000 in income that year. After a few calculations, you realize after salaries and expenses, that leaves $370,000 for you.

Your employees love you, for providing them with great jobs and a welcoming, creative work environment. Your clients love you, for delivering top quality work. But to half of the USA, you have now become the enemy.

After a decade of struggling and hardship, after all your sacrifices and the risks you’ve taken, you feel you are due for, if not a medal, at least some kind of public appreciation for working so hard to do so much more than your share to create jobs and drive the economy.

Instead, you turn on your TV one night and hear the President of the United States say it’s high time you started giving back. He tells you that “You didn’t build that.” After writing a $100,000 check to the IRS earlier that year, that the government spends on multiple wars and handouts to wealthy Wall Streeters and bankers, the President admonishes you for your greed and for not paying your fair share. And the crowd erupts in thunderous applause.

After years of paying your own money to employees while they learned on the job at no risk to themselves, then skipped out the door at 5 pm while you worked late into the night to meet deadlines, the progressive movement says that you are exploiting your poor “wage slaves. Funny, you think if the progressive movement just hung out with you for a few weeks, they’d see that it’s clearly the other way around.

The OWS protesters call you greedy and evil. The media tells you that you’re the problem with this country. Elizabeth Warren says that you didn’t get rich on your own, that you owe a debt to society. Progressive blogs tell you you’re the problem, increasing the gap between rich and poor.

Welcome to the vilified, maligned, unappreciated, resented, scapegoated, heroic 1%.

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10 thoughts on “You are the 1%

    • In fact, average is even more than that: The average income of the top 1 percent of US households in 2011 is $1,530,773, while the average income of the bottom 20 percent is $9,187, and the median income is $65,357, according to Jim Nunns, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

  1. Hooray for them! I hope all of us are inspired by their success, and I hope the 99%, who depend on them for jobs, and who benefit from the hugely disproportionate percentage of taxes they pay, appreciate them.

  2. “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

    “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” – Barack Obama

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