With that being said, we are on the edge of the 1% (depending on factors like last year’s company profits, the current exchange rate, and so on), so say like the 2-4%. It means we’ve seen what the actual 1% looks like, and… yeah. Let me tell you, it’s not shopping at Whole Foods.
One of the things I find kind of interesting, is just how… opaque the lifestyles of the “working rich” are to most people. I’m not talking about the mega-wealthy, the Kardashians and Gateses of the world. I’m talking “ordinary” millionaires; that is, people whose asset base is in the single-digit millions, and a portion of whose income comes from capital, not labour.1 This is the upper-upper middle class, mostly new money types made from overpaid industries like tech and finance (and, in Australia at least, mining).
The thing about the “working rich” is that they are, by and large, the people who drive social and political change in capitalist democracies, because they’re the people who, well. Run stuff. They’re the politicians and the executives and the small-to-medium business owners so on. They know people and they network, and their lifestyles are “close enough” to that of the rest of the middle class–and divorced enough from those of the “true” 1%, with whom they often have firsthand experience in a way most people don’t–that they often don’t realise just how privileged they are.2
It’s easy to dismiss the “five percenters”. We call them “cashed-up bogans” here–which is essentially just the Australian way of saying nouveau riche–and it’s a scorn that comes both from above (classless, new money that live above their station) and from below (traitors who’ve abandoned their working class roots). But I think this scorn hides an uncomfortable truth about this segment of society; that is, these are the people who are both in the biggest position to effect social change…
… and the people least likely to do so.
- The “capital, not labour” part is the important part of the distinction, incidentally. Life gets very different when you know that, even if you lost your day job tomorrow, you’d still have a baseline income to cushion the fall. The bigger that “cushion” gets, the bigger dives you can take before things start to hurt. This ability, to fail and fail comfortably, is the main difference between the rich and the not-rich. It’s not, in other words, about how many yachts you can buy. [↩]
- I’m using “they” are lot. Disclaimer: I count myself in this bracket, too. I am not immune. [↩]