1-percent stories meta analyzed

I find the “We are the 1 percent” blog captivating. I read it every day.  Nothing else captures both the scope of the problem and the nuances behind each person’s story of becoming wealthy. It answers the question: Who are the richest 1% and where did they come from?”

Of course these stories only come from a vocal fraction of 1-percenters. They reflect those who’ve became rich and are concerned that their stories are not very common in America anymore. I’d love for the other silent 1%-percenters to explain to the world their stories, and justify why Greed is Good. No, scratch that: Why Greed is God. For me there has always been two kinds of salary: Enough, and not enough. It appears from the stories on http://westandwiththe99percent.tumblr.com/that others share my belief.

What the 1% are saying in their stories on the whole:

I scraped the first 98 stories and looked at most common phrases in them.

I have color coded these phrases:

  • GREEN = circumstances surrounded each person’s story. Such as trust-funds, inheriting money, being debt free, being born into wealth, working hard,  and going to college without needing a student loan.
  • (not appearing in the green but a major theme I noticed: people talking about their parents’ and grandparents’ hard work, giving them the freedom to never have to work in their life.)
  •  RED = what the 1% who stand with the 99% are asking for: (1) Raise my taxes (2) Giving back, (3) wealth redistribution, (4) standing with the 99%.
  • (I noticed a theme with most inherited / trust-fund stories: “I love my family.” appears a lot. Because what they are saying must be breaking some taboo that the rich don’t ever complain about being given a handout from their elders. The underlying message from the parents and moneyed elites is, “I give you this money because I love you. If you don’t want it, then you don’t want my love. Money = acceptance.” There were even a few explicit stories of people who got lots of money from parents who were too busy to love and share time with them. It is sad.
  • BLUE = Why this issue matters, fundamentally. This isn’t about money. This is about Following your dreams, about the American Dream, and an issue of Justice and Dignity for all people.
  • YELLOW = political issues that intersect. The stock market, lack of universal healthcare, cost of schools (and specifically the power of going to a private college to shape your life and wealth eventually), capital gains tax is too low, and lastly – a system that was built to serve and protect the rich.
  • (part of the yellow category is a specific phrase that appeared most often: The “I want to live in…” phrase.

The “I want to live…” (motif) in 1% narratives:

  • I want to live in a country where it doesn’t take luck to make it.
  • I want to live in a world where everyone has the kind of access to care that I have had.
  • I want to live in a world where we all have enough.
  • I want to live in a world where the people I love don’t have to choose between food & healthcare.
  • I want to live in a world where we all have enough.
  • I want to live in a world where everyone has access to quality health care- housing- education- and food.
  • I want to live in a world where we all have enough. I have more than enough. Tax me!

Most common words in the 1-percenter stories:

Unlike the phrase analyzer, wordles allow certain single words to stand out, such as parents, insurance, tax system, education, love, and never. If you read these stories and the summaries here, you might realize that the fear of “not having enough” in the world largely centers around lack of universal healthcare.  Even those who do have enough – in the richest 1% – talk about the fear that some day they might not have safety, security, and the comfort that they have had up to now. Fear keeps people apart and yet we appear to fear the same things even after they are not longer a realistic threat to our lives.

Who are the richest 1% by statistics?

The richest 1% in America earned at least $380,354 in 2010.

The average Wall Street salary was estimated at $340,000 for 2009, the year of our financial meltdown.

Of people on Earth as a whole, the median yearly salary is $850. If all of the earth’s wealth was divided equally, everyone’s yearly salary would be about $7,000.

According to this calculator, any person earning over $39,000 a year is in the richest 1% worldwide. (but this source estimates those earning $41,000 are only in the top 3%)

What does it mean to be rich?

Having enough to eat, feeling secure and safe, and ultimately being able to pursue meaningful work in your life. By my standards, most of us in America are much richer than most of the people on Earth. When will we realize that blessings are not to be hoarded?

In a nutshell, the attitude of (some of) the richest 1% that I find most despicable –  and the source of our country’s problems – is the belief that earning it makes it yours and yours alone. Others, like me, live mindfully because all we have is a blessing, and whether we earned it or not, it is cruel to hoard one’s blessings.

Here’s my story…

Note: Analysis was done with python, networkx, gephi, and wordle. The data files with all stories are here for  download:

westandwiththe99percent (text file with 1 story per line)


Overall, this story speaks to me the most:

I never wanted for anything when I was young- except for love. My parents decided that traveling around the world was more interesting than staying home with me. To make up for their negligence the gave me an allowance on top of everything being paid for me.

I dropped out of high school. I’ve never worked a day in my life. I never went to college. But I make more money on my “allowance” than a lot of Americans make working every day- all day. I make more than most poor make working two jobs a day as they struggle to keep their families from starving – being evicted – and to keep themselves warm in winter.

I got bored and I fell in with a bad crowd that most people would think is a good – but spoiled – crowd. Then I fell in with a very good crowd – that was terrible crowd of criminals. Through them I have seen more struggling- suffering- overcoming- and truimphing than I would ever thought possible. These people are doing what they can to just survive. The amount of love I’ve found here is at times overwhelming. I’m blessed. Every time I get another deposit in my bank account part of me feels guilty. We all deserve a chance to be happy.

I am the 1%- I stand with the 99%.|

I’ve added yet more analysis of the sub-groups within these 1% stories on the next post.

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