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Fun with math.

I have heard it claimed that "most of the Occupy protestors are in the global 1%."

This sounds appealing and true. We've been raised to believe in both the absolute superiority of the US economy and also in the absolute hypocrisy of left-wing protest. And we all love ironic turnabout.

But let's evaluate mathematically.

The world's population is 7 billion, give or take.

1% of 7 billion is 70 million. The top 70 million wealth-holders in the world are the global 1%.

Let's, generously and inaccurately, assume that all of the global 1% live in the US. The US has a population of 300 million, more or less. That means that, if all the global 1% live in the US, they represent 25% of the US population.

If we (very generously) assume that the occupy protestors are evenly distributed economically in the US population, that means only a quarter of them would be in the 1%.

Of course, realistically, this isn't just the case. The global 1% don't just live in the US: they live in the US and Europe and Japan and China and Saudi Arabia and Korea and India and Mexico and Brazil and Russia and Brunei and Taiwan and so on. Nonetheless the US has an outsized economic footprint and a lot of rich people. Let's assume that they have 10 times their share of the ultra wealthy. Which would mean that the US has 30 million global 1%ers, and that they constitute the top 10% of the US.

The 10% of the US income line is around 100k / year. How many occupy protestors, realistically, make that? Many of them are unemployed, many of them are homeless, so we can rule those out. Certainly some of the celebrities who showed up at Occupy, such as Joe Stiglitz or Slavoj Zizek, make more than that. There are probably a number of people involved in the movement who make six figures, although likely more as funders and organizers than protestors. Maybe, generously, one in a hundred or so?
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Michael Stankowski's profile photoJeff Zahari's profile photoBen Lehman's profile photoKaren Liu's profile photo
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I would assume they're just going by averages. The average income for a household is around $50k~ last I checked, which would put it around the 1% global bracket from whenever those were last averaged.

Likely, they never did a bit of research apart from a few google searches and a lot of throwing around vague statistics.
 
+Josh Thompson That still doesn't work! ~50k income isn't in the 1% of global incomes; it mathematically can't be. The US simply cannot have ~5% of the global population and have most of its population in the 1% income bracket. No vas.

It is possible that one could argue that the US is, as a country, in the top 1% of countries. In terms of raw nominal GDP, this is actually correct, but dumb (because it's not per capita).
 
In other words, I strongly doubt an internet search was involved. I suspect the numbers were, rather than googled, anally extracted.
 
+Nathan Orlando Wilson The figure you are quoting is wrong. The online tools you are using are inaccurate. Think critically about the sums provided.

Part of this is because such tools conflate data from different periods (I think a lot of them are based on a 2000-era book, which of course means the data is nearly two decades old), partly because they can't parse the difference between personal and household income, partly because they're mathematically illiterate, and partly because the people who design them are hateful guilt-mongers.
 
Thinking critically is exactly what those people aren't doing, heh. I just re-created the process they used to get their 'info'. Took about three minutes on google.
 
+Nathan Orlando Wilson Here is a way that they can be verified very, very simply.

The Canadian dollar and the American dollar are at rough parity, fortunately for my analysis.

Look at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

Census data shows that roughly 20% of the US population makes over 55K a year.

The population of the US is 311,591,917. 20% of that is 60 million, more or less.

60 million is, roughly 1% of the world's population.

That means that, for this to be true, no one outside of the US would have an income over 55K. This is clearly untrue.

Thus, we can discard the quiz as false. There we go: verified.

The point here is quite simple: we can verify most claims using basic math.

yrs--
--Ben
 
+Nathan Orlando Wilson "Even if they were somehow in the 1% would that change the force of their claims?" If someone believed it did, they would be committing the Circumstantial Ad Hominem fallacy. Which would make them irrational nutjobs.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the people +Ben Lehman is referring to are irrational nutjobs who do not even understand why they should care that their "reasoning" is fallacious.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/circumstantial-ad-hominem.html
 
Just popping in to raise the idea of relative exploitation. You really have to balance raw income figures with costs of living, and there of course you see that there are many Americans who can barely put a roof over their head (etc).
 
+Nathan Orlando Wilson Found the tool you were using.
It's using data from 1999. So it's 13 years out of date.

This is important for two reasons. First, global income inequality is shrinking, rather rapidly. Second, it doesn't account for inflation, which raises the dollar amounts by nearly a third.

Now, why would a charity trying to convince people to donate to them have an interest in using figures 13 years out of date? Probably because, by doing the sleight-of-hand where we count 2012 dollars as equal to 1999 dollars, they can convince people that the world is poorer than it actually is, thus making them more likely to donate.

It's a mean trick, and it's not becoming to a charity trying to help fix global income inequality. I'd definitely check their books thoroughly before donating anything.
 
They can change the slogan to... we are the 99.9%!
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