The recent Occupy Wall Street protests (and their Occupy Sydney and Occupy Melbourne cousins) have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge....So to any Occupy folks, in the unlikely event any happen to be be reading this, perhaps you should pack up the tent and go re-erect it in your own gardens.* Not only will you be more representative by protesting against yourselves but no one will mind if you don't stay in the tent all night or use the bird bath as a lavatory.
In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. In Australia, the top 3% of households earn more than $250,000 per week, according to the ABS. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?
That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year.[...]
It means Australians we consider poor are among some of the world’s most well-off. As Milanovic notes, “the poorest [5%] of Americans are better off than more than two-thirds of the world population.” Furthermore, “only about 3 percent of the Indian population have incomes higher than the bottom (the very poorest) U.S. percentile.”
In short, most of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement would be considered wealthy — perhaps extraordinarily wealthy — by much of the world. Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%.
UPDATE - Very belated recognition of a comment from a few weeks ago, this. Rational Anarchist made a very similar point on In Masho veritas? and referenced Tim Worstall writing for Forbes. Unfortunately RA's comment got sucked into the ID spam trap and I only just noticed today. Sorry, RA.
* 99% of people probably do not have 3G for a poor protestor's internet capable smartphone or a handy Starbucks providing a free wifi signal for their ≈$2,000 MacBook Pro and so could not be reading this from local equivalent of Wall Street, or the steps of St Paul's, or City Square, or Martin Place etc etc. Just a thought, that's all.