What does it mean when Americans make up half of the world's richest 1%?
January 5th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean when Americans make up half of the world's richest 1%?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When I read these numbers I was stunned. I had no idea that Americans make up fully one half of the world's richest 1%.

When you look at the world's population as a whole, it only takes $34,000 a year per person - after taxes - to be part of the world's richest one percent. A family of four with after tax income of $136,000 would be among the world's richest.

60 million people make up the world's richest one percent. And, according to world bank economist Branko Milanovic, half of them - or 29 million people - lived in the United States as of 2005.

Another 4 million live in Germany. And the rest are scattered throughout Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia.

None of the world's richest 1% live in Africa, China or India - statistically speaking.

Although places like China and India are seeing economic growth, and people there are getting richer, they're starting from a very low base. This also means the emerging middle class in these countries isn't the same as the middle class in developed nations. No cars. No retirement plans. They don't own their own homes.

Milanovic says people in the world's true middle live on around $1,200 a year.

Which means even the poorest 5% of Americans are richer than two-thirds of the entire world. Something to think about.

While the Occupy Wall Street movement targets the so-called 1% with protests in New York, Los Angeles, Denver and Washington.

These numbers give one percent a whole new meaning.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when Americans make up half of the world's richest 1%?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Johnny in Los Angeles:
Hi Jack. It proves first and foremost that an economy based on free enterprise will make a nation rich.

All well and good. But what does that have to do with the discrepancy in America, between the rich and the poor middle class?

Robert in Florida:
It means that until recently America was the land of opportunity. It means until recently the government didn't try to control every aspect of the American business community. It means that government regulations didn't always stifle growth and punish success.

B. in Missouri:
The United States has the "richest" poor people in the world. Most have a home, many have transportation and most don't have to beg for food on the street even though sometimes they don't have enough food.

Michelle on Facebook:
It means that's the reason everyone wants to come to America. The land of the free where anything is possible.

It means that people really don't know how good they really have it living in the U.S. Do any of those "Occupy Wall Street" people want to trade positions with the average person in Africa, Asia, or India?

Larry in Georgetown, Texas:
Count my blessings on a daily basis and give more to others in need. We are the most fortunate people on earth at this time, but at our current rate we'll be joining the people in China, India and Africa.

Posted by
Filed under: Money • United States
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. Russ in PA

    What should be surprising about this? The freer the economy, the better off all of it's citizens will be. The more controlled the economy, the better off the elites will be at the expense of the middle and lower class. It's a pity that so many politicians and Americans seem to have a differing view.

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    January 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  2. Ken from Pinon Hills, California

    It can be suggested those with the power of wealth has swayed those in power in Washington DC to be the money trees for them. It is America's Marionettes show on our Nations Capital steps, profits with strings attached, hence your one half of the one percent.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  3. David R Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Oh Jack that is an easy question................We are free to be and anyone can build on a better idea.We have great education and a good social network since this country started.I know occupy will dis agree with me bacause they want a free nanny state.Problem with that is you "DO" run out of money.I know its a tough time right now Jack.However if one works hard to build on a dream it can come true in our great country.So the answer is Jack;Because we ARE
    the United States and many men and women have died for our better idea.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  4. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    After reading your question what first comes to mind for me is why are so many Americans out of work here in the United States? It also means the Republicans have an indefensible defense protecting the 1% from paying their fair share. It also means we are becoming a nation of rich and poor with the rich getting richer and the middle class becomes extinct. When that happens they would have cut their own throats because be no one who can afford to buy their products.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  5. John from Alabama

    Jack: It means that some people in the Unioted States of America are doing quiet well. While the rest of the nation's population is worried about their job, or are hunting for a job, or they are looking for a second job for a second income.. I am glad there are wealthy Americans doing so well, but the only way out of this deficit is increase there tases. We can do away with everyones taxcuts and apply 3.9 trillion dollars a year on paying the deficit.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Terry

    Its means you have to be a ruthless buisnessman like Romney. Although there are many who made their money through hard work and investments, we will always have the few who simply only care about themselves.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  7. Doug Ericson

    It may mean we have a lot of software geniuses living in this country. It may mean that a ot of international folks with money are being counted in that report. It means that most of the profits a company makes is being scooped up by the top executives in the form of salary, bonuses, and stock option grants. The common sharehoder constantly gets shafted in my opinion. It means there is no excuse for homelessness, and people going hungry, and having inadequate clothing and Health Care. It means a lot of folks are getting rich off of the Military Industrial Complex. It means we have more successful crooks in this country than I had previously imagined. Doug. Pepperell, MA.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Kevin in CA

    Clearly the consolidation of wealth in America has to become even narrower ... say, to only the top 0.5 percent.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  9. Jayne in NH

    It means fat cats love America because we don't tax them enough. Wealthy people in this country usually pay taxes at half the rate of middle class people who do actual work. I'd bet the jar of pennies on my kitchen counter that Mitt Romney doesn't want to release his tax returns because he's a 15 percenter.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  10. BILL, WI

    What does it mean when Americans make up half of the world's richest 1%? It means this country offers more opportunity for someone to better themselves than in some other countries. Especially when you consider that over 60% of the worlds richest are self-made individuals, the majority of that group are Americans. They started their business or company out of either a garage or their home with maybe mom and dad being the first investors. Unlike the whiny Gimme Herd, otherwise know as the OWS, some of the top 1% got off their rear ends and bucked the odds to actually improve their lives.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Boomer in Mo

    The United States has the "richest" poor people in the world. Most have a home, many have transportation and most don't have to beg for food on the street even though sometimes they don't have enough food. Because of this many hateful Americans want to end all programs for the poor. We could have legions of beggars roaming our country. I don't want that but some people apparently do. And the poor elderly would just have to die. They don't make money or pay taxes anyway, so they are of no use to many so called Christian Americans. This country is getting meaner by the hour.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  12. Terry Wells -Hoosier Hillbilly-Greensburg,IN

    It means 1/2% of the rest of the world is as rich as Americas 1/2% (which equals 1% – share and share alike!
    If your trying to get the point across that even the poor in the U.S. are richer than 99 1/2 % of the rest of the world say-so
    If your asking how they got to be that way then ask the 99 1/2% here in the U.S. and they'll tell you it 'was off them'
    When you get to something worthwhile discussing I'll make sense too!

    January 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  13. Bill of New Mexico

    The "powers that be" get to cut the first slice of the pie of the world's production.


    In 1960 more than three quarters of the world's richest 1% were Americans.

    Perhaps by 2060, less than one quarter of the world's richest will be Americans.

    The "powers that be" get to cut the first slice of the pie of the world's production.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. David of Alexandria VA

    It means that America, as one of the youngest countries and the generally most affluent, has got it right. Our poor live better than most of the world. My question is - how did we let the other half get away?

    January 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  15. Robert Florida

    It means that until recently America was the land of opportunity. It means until recently the government didn’t try to control every aspect of the American Business community. It means that government regulations didn’t always stifle growth and punish success. It means that all previous administrations didn’t want a government dependant society. Most of all it means that no previous administrations never wanted to play Class Warfare pitting one American against another, neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother based on their social economic standing. They didn’t try to enact polices that kept those lower income homes from rising just to make sure the rich didn’t get any richer.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  16. Dan in Aluququerque

    It means there is something wrong with our system. A country that has half the world's rich shoild not be in economic recession. It means those that have money are not using it to help the country recover by investing in jobs here, and not overseas. They should also invest in technical and business education, even if its in -house for their own companies. The feeling of national pride has eroded among the elite.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  17. Phyllis G. Williams

    What does it mean when Americans make up half of the world's richest 1%?

    CONGRATULATIONS! That is great! GOOD NEWS if they know Job 1: 21;
    lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6: 19 ) on earth (Matthew 25: 40)
    and get their eternal inheritance also (1st Peter 1: 4)
    as it is no better than stones to them when left hoarded in a bank.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  18. Brad, Portland, OR

    To the Republicans, it means that the bottom 99% of Americans are making too much money, and they need to take a pay cut to equal the wages in China or India. Or their jobs need to go to China or India. Because average Americans are overpaid.

    But don't raise taxes on the top 1% of Americans, because they're the job creators.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  19. RickFromDetroit

    Compare the number of Rich with the rest of the CNN Reports and it is easy to see why we have 49 million Americans living below poverty, 97 million Americans earning a low income standard of living, 46 million Americans collecting food stamps, 45,000 Americans dying every year due to their financial inability to obtain medial services, 50 million Americans uninsured, 1.6 million homeless kids living on the streets, 10's of thousands of out Veterans living on the streets, an unknown number of homeless adults, millions of Americans unable to afford an education, millions of homes facing foreclosure or have been foreclosed.

    I have said for the past 30 years that the U.S. Government is the worlds largest "Organized Crime Syndicate," monitored and manipulated by the American Bar Asso., and their primary source of income is extortion which includes Wall Street, Employee Pay & Benefits, and through the Government it self which includes Insider Trading, Tax Cuts, Tax Write Offs, Government Funding of Projects, etc., etc., etc. This list of criminal activities never seems to end!

    President Obama expressed the situation to the American people during his campaign when he called it the "Unequal Distribution of Wealth," but since his election, the President has decided to join the Washington Gangsters!

    January 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    It means that America is still the land of opportunity and it's time the Liberal critics stopped hating us for our values and free enterprise system. Anyone know of a better place to be?

    January 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  21. Larry in Houston

    it means that : as individuals, we have the most money in our pocketbooks, Jack. According to a recent survey that I read, If you make around 43K per yr, you are among the world's richest 1% . But we are talking about being included with those 3rd & 4th world countries ! How about comparing it to Just the U.S. Jack ? That goes to the OWS gang, Jack. Those people are crazy, don't you think ? Sometimes I wonder if any of those OWS gang has any sense. IF they "Voted" in 2010 ( in the mid-terms) They most likely would not be any OWS . Why didn't the OWS gang that Lives in Utah, Vote in the mid terms, for instance Vote Out people like Orrin Hatch ? Maybe they want Hatch to be in there for 7 terms. How about Virginia ? Did the OWS gang that resides in Virginia Vote for the re-election of Eric Cantor, how many Terms ? Same way with Kentucky, Did the OWS gang that resides in Kentucky Vote for their "Mitch"
    McConnell" how many TERMS ? Same way with Ohio – Did Their OWS gang Vote OUT Boehner ? NO, they go and think the "Occupy" movement is going to do something, I guess. I can't wait to see what states decides to "re-elect" their Congressman, for the numerous times they keep re-electing them, Jack. wait til 2014 – you will see that those people in some states will re-elect their scumbags term after term after term. Pathetic, isn't it ?

    Larry in Houston

    January 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  22. ron Whittemore Mich

    The question should be " Why does the American People keep complaining about that 1% who keep us destitute and use us to death whier making all their wealth from us ?" yet they are the ones who make them our president so they can keep us in bondage? Just take a good look at what the Republicans and Tea Party have running for President, and listen CLOSELY to what they are saying. It does not take much to see through them and what they ARE really UP TO.. They even keep Obama paralized so he can make no progress and they can blame ALL on him because that is their MAIN and ONLY AGENDA. Nothing else. Forget the American People and our Country, just get rid of Obama and keep the Wealthy filthy rich at the expense and lives of the Poor AND mIddleclass no matter what....They have Santorum who will bomb Iran and bring down a Necular attack down upon us from the Entire Middle East, Romney who will cut China off and keep insuling them untill they are docked in San Diego Bay to forclose on the countrys Trillions of dollars debt we owe them or just blast us out of exsistance as believe it or not , their Armed Forces way out number us and Ron Paul who would have us withdraw ALL our military from foreign countries, continue loest taxes ever for the rich and continue to let the poor and middleclass support this country and the world....Man What a future to look forward to and a real special thing we can leave our future generation, same as we have only worse......No Thanks, I!ll keep Obama and make some progress AHEAD even tho it is slow. Something is better than Nothing ever or a slow death.....

    January 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  23. TomInRochNY

    Those statistics don't mean much, Jack. Take those numbers and compare them to the cost of living in different regions of the world. Then come back and tell me I'm in the 1%.

    Tom, Rochester, NY

    January 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  24. Ed from MD

    If everybody was millionaires we would all be fighting over the lobsters and nobody would eat the chickens. It's all relative and the 1% can only eat so much and take up so much room in the world as hard as they try.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm |

    what it means Jack is that America is the worst country in the world to be in poverty.

    tom, forest hills, pa

    January 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  26. Thinkforyourself, OK

    i It means that the so called 99% are some of the most fortunate people on planet Earth.
    If your family has 2 cars you are in the top 5%. If you have access to the internet you are in the 8%.
    If you have a college ed, you are in the 1%.
    However, if Obama has his way, we are fast become a 3rd world country. Debt piled on debt, bankruptcies, unconstitutional appointments, super inflation of the dollar. It is all by design.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  27. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Count my blessings on a daily basis and give more to others in need. We are the most fortunate people on earth at this time but at our current rate we'll be joining the people in China, India and Africa.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  28. Johnny C (from Los Angeles)

    Hi Jack –

    It proves first and foremost that an economy based on free enterprise will make a nation rich.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  29. Richard Texas

    Well America has some of the lowest tax rates in the world so naturally the wealthy would gravitate to it. People complain about high taxes in America because they don't live in those countries that take almost half their pay each year in taxation. 34 thousand is a lot of money to a poor man and not near enough to a man that spends 35 thousand a year or more. Wealth is a relative term and it all depends on where your standing at the time when asked if your wealthy or not as to how you will answer.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  30. kim smith, Dodge City, Ks.

    I'm not sure it means anything. We have had the good fortune of being able to write our own destiny and not be, for the most part, handicapped by ancient customs, tribal ritual, and religious tyranny. Don't forget, in the land of the blind a one eyed man is king.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  31. MNResident

    It means that people REALLY don't know how good they REALLY have it living in the US. Do any of those "Occupy Wall Street" people want to trade positions with the average person in Africa, Asia, or India? It's a "target rich" environment in the US, in more ways than one....

    January 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  32. M.L. Harris

    All well and good. But what does that have to do with the discrepancy in America; between the rich and the poor middle class?

    January 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  33. Annie, Atlanta

    Why this is stunning for a newsman is beyond me, frankly. Middle class wages have been in steady decline, while the richest have done exceedingly well, even during this great recession. I guess that's what happens when the rich are able to buy up our politcians. Laws get written in their favor to the determiment of the rest of us poor slobs out here. It's been the American way for more than three decades now. Our new reality, sadly.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  34. Gary H. Boyd

    It means there are a whole lot of people out there making a whole lot less - simple as that Jack.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    January 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  35. Andre R. Newcomb

    It might mean that we're experiencing difficulty distributing equity. But there IS a problem with distributing such and what would be the result of people being in possession of buying power. The United Nations, Wall Street, London, Shanghai, Tokyo and others ARE doing well in that disease is being eradicated. Hydro-electric is being developed to make apparent to local populations that standards of better living ARE possible. Transportation systems are more efficient. Famine seems to move with the weather (India & the Sahara) and domestic tranquility. 'Religiously' . . . perspective is the reality. You look to God and there are many names God AND many practices 'to God' (mostly arising out of the local conditions) . . . Israel (a word) and Islam (people who practice different customs according to what the "local environment" sustains. So too is "wealth" a matter of perspective. New products and new wants command attention of young and old. What 'WE' know as wealth is only perspective. The United Nations is trying to make life NOT a struggle. A refrigerator, a microwave, a tv, an ambulance, a lock that works, toilets that work, gardens that flourish, children who don't cry. And good friends.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  36. Dennis in Florida


    What it means is quite simple, the average American doesn’t know how well they have it.

    Why do they think the folks south of the border and from a lot of other miserable locations around the world keep sneaking into this country to work at what most consider ‘miserable’ jobs?

    The no benefits low wage part time job lets them live quite well compared to their home country. Then we roll over and pay for their medical expenses and educate their kids all for free.

    It’s an illegal’s dream come true, a lottery win.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  37. Dave R

    It means we are the richest country in the world. Economist and writer Malcom Gladwell published a list of the richest people in history (inflation adjusted), going all the way back to Cleopatra, and Americans comprise over 80%. We are becoming a nation of whiners, and that includes "aint it awful" Jack Cafferty. We should be thankful for what we have.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  38. Jim, Denver CO

    It means the industrial revolution, post WWII boom and technology boom worked for us. But as things are going now we will see how much of a percentage drop we experience. With the Middle class being aggresively eroded in the U.S. I would say in about 3-5 years those numbers will be significantly different.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  39. calaurore9

    Wow. Startling statistics. It means Americans should not take their good fortune for granted.

    Carol in Northampton, Ma

    January 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  40. Richard

    Albany, NY Along with alot of other people, it appears you still "don't get" the OWS movement. Your numbers prove the point even more. Look at the ratio of the number of people who have the power (545 in the US) vs the number of people who seek human equality, dignity, and an equal voice. 311 million people in the US vs 435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, 9 judges, and 1 President. And we can't get any of them to really listen. One of these fine days, the vast majority will finally wake up and make it known who really has the power. Hope I'll be around to see it happen.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  41. pat in michigan

    It means that this country isn't in as much trouble as we are led to believe . The real problem is who will be allowed to make a fortune tax free.It means a return of the robber barons and their bought and paid for politicians.It means a return of slavery. It means all workers regardless of race will be abused.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  42. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    kind of an eye opening article. $136,000 a year is "1%"? REALLY?

    I think you lost a zero somewhere because I used to make MORE than that at my job and I can assure you the wife and I were NOT flying around in private jets or cruising on our yacht. we didn't own a "McMansion" or even what would be considered a luxury car.

    I think your figures are false. did they come from some so called "conservative think tank"?

    January 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  43. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    We are blessed with a great and wonderful country full of opportunities! I don't mind people getting rich, but I agree with the Occupy Movement who wish they could do it without screwing other people. If I robbed a bank I would go to prison. When the banks rob us their CEOs get a big bonus!

    January 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  44. Paul - North Carolina

    It means that in spite of all our problems the USA remains the most successful and affluent nation on earth. It also means that our system of government and our economic policies have been largely successful. Which in turn means that those who seek to tear it down through obstructionism, "starving the beast" or political chicanery are in favor of destroying the very things that have made America the best of nations.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  45. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    It means that we should be ashamed that a nation so rich lags so far behind the rest of the first world in health care and uman services. As poor as the rest of the world is, relatively speaking, they are not turned away from medical treatment for lack of money.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  46. Ray E. (Georgia)

    It means Free Enterprise is a great system. It is Free Enterprise not big Government Programs that made the U.S. Sucessful.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  47. Annie, Atlanta

    It means they take care of each other, and the politicians who take care of them. Look at Romney, for God's sake. He secured a $10 Million bailout for Bain Capital. The same company that dismanted American companies, fired employees, and shipped those jobs overseas. Socialism for corporations, lovely. Yet we keep voting in guys who use that word to scare us about Democrats. When are we going to learn?

    January 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  48. Karl in Flint

    Well Jack, When I read these numbers I was stunned, too. Since I never quite qualified for the 1% in my working career, after taxes anyway, I was encouraged that I had come so close to it. I just want to thank all those impoverish millions in the rice paddies and jungles of the world for being there to make my income look so good, statistically. I am also encouraged by the fact that thanks to the last administration making it economically feasible to ship our jobs to India and China, we are able to share our great abundance with the world. It just gives me a warm a fuzzy feeling all over. Don't you feel that way, too?

    January 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  49. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    First, it means that how these figures are calculated are skewed. If adjusted by national standard of living, the result would be different. If governmentally based entitlements are included, the figures are also not as skewed. Second, even when making these adjustments, Americans are living quite comfortably, although it won't last as the world catches up. Finally, an analysis of the smaller group of elites who control not only their own wealth, but most of the productive wealth, would be more useful, especially if we look at how this wealth buys power. For example, not only do six members of the Wall family have more wealth than 30%of the US population, this wealth gives them control over the income of a large share of the world's population in the U.S. and China, if you include supply chain effects. More interesting than comparative amounts of wealth is the question of what percentage of the world's population controls the income of most of the world's people – and how this group lines up by country.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  50. Sylvia from San Diego

    It means that we as a nation are doing something right so why the Obama Administration would like to disband it, makes absolutely no sense....

    January 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  51. Loren

    Absolutely nothing, Jack, not when our President is working mightily to reduce those numbers as fast as he can.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  52. Al

    Could it be the folks doing the study overvalued the dollar?

    January 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  53. Michael H

    I wouldn't compare the income of Americans to that of 3rd world countries. We shouldn't have to let the 1% make us feel lucky to not be a 3rd world country. The weathly exist not by mere birthwright but by the strife of the common American, they would be wise not to forget that.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  54. Mike in Pekin

    When contrasted against the claims of the OWS crowd, it makes us look pretty stupid. For all of those who spent months camping in Zucotti Park and elsewhere, I would ask, how does it feel now that your part of the 1%? Rich and poor are relative terms. I believe we need to get back to our principles of self reliance, and stop worrying about how much everyone else makes. Work hard, and you will be rewarded.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  55. Paul H. Redfield III

    We make it so easy to build a dynasty, Bushes, Romney.
    It's a lot easier to expand wealth when you start out ahead and a lot harder when you have to try to catch up.
    "it's easy to become a multi-millionaire once you have the first million"
    Rosemount, MN.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  56. Jeff In Minnesota

    Mel Brooks said it best. "it's good to be the King!"

    January 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  57. SHAUN in Algonquin IL

    If it only takes $34,000 a year per person – after taxes – to be part of the world's richest one percent, then will the OWS protesters be lining up to protest anyone making over $34K ? or two income families over $68K? As for other comments posted to the site, most people are missing the point when they try to takes sides about the richest 1% in the US who pay 40% of tax revenues collected in the US. There is a basic misunderstanding between forced wealth redistribution (which did not work in Russia or China or anywhere else) and the need for socially responsible values ...and government by its very nature cannot fix that!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  58. Kim , Dodge City, Kansas

    Wealthy or poor, it's all relative to the society you live in.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  59. Jim


    Telling a single person making $34,000 per year that he/she is among the world's wealthiest people might be a tough sell. Standard of living might provide a more meaningful comparison. One wonders, for example, how the standard of living for a person in China of that income compares with a counterpart in the U.S. It does remind us once again, however, that America, with all her warts, is still the best place on Earth to live.

    Reno, Nevada

    January 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  60. Tyler Black

    It means that as long as you have food, water, clothes to cover your back, and a place to sleep you really shouldn't complain in envy of the ultra-rich, because you're still a lot better off than most of the world.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  61. Gigi Oregon

    It should scare the hell out of the top percent of the population in the United states, because the new testament says "it will be difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven". The rich young ruler wanted to know how to enter heaven and was told to go and sell all he had and give it to the poor. According to the God i trust...

    January 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  62. curtis in philadelphia

    Who cares Jack, I want more. USA! USA! USA!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  63. Steve, NY

    It means that those on welfare that don't want to work are close to being rich as compared to the global picture. They should not complain. That goes also for those Wall Street Occupiers that have money and sleep in hotels at night that don't want to work. If they sleep in tents on cold nights then truly they are poor. We need to reduce the handouts in this country that will make people work for a living even if a couple dollars an hour. I did it, mine parents did it and most of your parents did it.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  64. deborah ballweg Seibert, co

    It means socialism doesn't work. Tell Obama that.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  65. TS in AZ

    My wise father told me: "You've already won the lottery just by being born in the United States". He only needed to tell me once and I'll never forgot it. Sometimes we lose sight with all this political back and forth lashing, but this article demonstrates how true it remains.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  66. Cee.La

    Maybe it means we are not nearl

    January 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  67. Pat from Maryland

    Jack – it means that Americans have been working their tails off which is what we fought World Wars for to preserve. Freedom, including the freedom to work is a privelege that Americans have earned through blood,sweat and tears. We are still earning it. We are the greatest Country this World has ever seen and can overcome any obstacle. Lets make it 75%.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  68. andyz Lynn, MA

    It means that the tactics of America's super rich, i.e. buying the Republican party, have worked.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  69. marybeth, massachusetts


    You're comparing apples and oranges with those statistics. It depends upon where you live, the cost of living for your area. A $34,000 per year salary would make you very rich if you live in India. Try living (just paying your ordinary bills–rent/mortgage, insurance, food, taxes, gas–no going out to dinner (brown-bag your lunch), no movies out, no vacations, no daily or even weekly coffee or snacks at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, no internet–use the public library instead) in the Boston area on that salary. You can't do it–you lose a third of your salary to taxes, and your rent alone (for a so-so neighborhood and no public transportation) costs you $24,000 alone. Do you pay your insurance or do you eat? If your car goes, which you need to get to work, you don't have enough money to pay for repairs, much less buy a another (used) car.

    I think you shouldn't include third-world countries in the stats, and perhaps even exclude most of Europe, which has much higher taxes but provides a free university education (no student loans to repay), free health care (what a concept), and looks after the elderly and children.

    What these stats mean to me is that SOME people in the US have done very very very well, even during this depression. They've done well because of low taxes, huge tax write-offs, and tax shelters. Stock options and other "income" is taxed at a much much lower rate than income you earn via a salary, enabling the already super wealthy to keep more of their money. It means that the wealthy have been able to buy off politicians, to hire lobbyists to get politicians to change the laws to favor the wealthy, all while sticking it to the rest of us.

    What you should be asking is why are the republicans continuing to subsidize those who don't need help, why are the republicans continuing to provide corporate welfare to mega rich corporations? If this is the wealthiest country in the world, why are so many Americans living in poverty (record number)? Why are so many Americans struggling to keep up with ordinary bills?

    Why do the republicans hate the middle class and the poor?

    January 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  70. Cee.La

    Maybe it means we are not as bad off as the politicians and pundits say we are!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  71. Charles - San Antonio

    It mean that we are doing pretty damn good. Half of the richest 1% with 7% of the worlds population are some pretty good odds.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  72. Kristin Cox

    Harleton, TX

    How can we claim to still be home to the American Dream when our poorest people, who could find prosperity in most other places, can't afford an education that is almost key to prosperity here?

    January 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  73. Don from Detroit

    Who makes 34k?!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  74. Sandstone.

    "But you and I know that is not actually true, Jack. They also have the highest overheads to pay for. I'm not going to count them, as they're all individual earner's"

    January 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  75. Pete in Georgia

    It's just living proof of what FREE ENTERPRISE produces.
    TRUE free enterprise, not what this current administration of Socialists are trying to do with redistributing the wealth of America to anyone and everyone who will vote them into power, ignoring our 220 year old Constitution in the process.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  76. Dave, Orlando, Fl

    It means that our government and the multinationals will be doing everything they can to change that. In fact they have already started by decimating our stocks, investments, savings, pensions, Social Security and real estate values.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  77. Sam

    somebody forgot to tell these guys you can't take with you. If you need further evidence remember the pharaohs. Midas well share it ; you can keep your good deeds. But really 1% ers you can't take with you. Sorry.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  78. james in greenville, nc

    Jack, it is a testament to our free markets. America is still the land of opportunity. People can still make it big here. That's why you got to love this country.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  79. Brett from DC

    This illustrates what I've been saying all along...the "one percent" just doesn't exist in the context that the occupy movement frames it as. Its just become a catch all phrase for "people I don't like". I guess after these numbers they will have to start calling people they don't like "the .5 percent"

    January 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  80. Lisa V in Colorado

    Jack, it just means that we're all screwed. And we should be afraid. Be very afraid!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  81. Vic

    'Rich' is all about financial resources relative to cost and availability of goods, across society. Comparing the financial well-being of Americans to others, based on earnings and without adjusting for cost of living and other factors, is disingenuous at best and downright misleading and self-serving at worst. Before we can make any sense of your argument we need all of the pertinent details. Without more information this is simply a waste of time.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  82. Ed in California

    It means we are a land of opportunity in terms of both freedom and business! Often those who made millions in other countries wish to move here to be free from their homelands political and religious oppression. Likewise, they can see more opportunities for their children here.

    Oh, and you don't have to speak a FOREIGN language, we all speak American here.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  83. Pete/Ark

    It means my late father is once again proven correct...as a mathmatics expert he was fond of saying " figures never lie, but liars always figure ".

    January 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  84. Rebecca

    This is eye-opening, but I'd like to see statistics with cost of living differences taken into account. Either way, we Americans are certainly privileged.
    Noblesville, IN

    January 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  85. bob

    It simply means that as a country, we're doing pretty well for ourselves. And even in the deep recession we're currently dragging ourselves out of, we're head and shoulders above every other country in the world.

    Though really, including 3rd world countries is disingenuous at best. It would be like saying I'm the tallest person in the here, while standing in a 1st grade classroom.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  86. Alex in wisconsin

    So you are saying that the struggling middle class here in America would be considered rich in parts of Europe, South America, Africa and Asia? I think this says more about the enormous cost of living here in the US than anything else. I think the prices of basic goods are so inflated to meet government's quality standards and the corporate bottom line. I bet most americans don't realize that in other parts of the world, the water is Free! Dirty and infested, yes,but free nonetheless.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  87. Kevin Thatcher

    I think it more or less means, American's take what they have for granted.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  88. samiaminiowa

    All of a sudden I feel rich – boy, are we ever spoiled in the US!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  89. Barry

    It's all relative, Jack. We should really see if we're in the top 1% of world happiness.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  90. Henri D Kahn

    It means that people like me whose father died when I was 12 years old and worked after school weekly school hours and many weekends and every summer during "summer vacation" whose highewt level of education is high school graduate. who joined the USMC, becasue the city in which I lived did not offer anything except menial jobs, who worked at a variety of types of work until I ended up in the insurance business starting as a debit agent and then to management then to a vice presidency then to ownership of what is now a successful small business has a net worth equivalent to what is now called a 1 percenter. Thats what it means!
    Henri D. Kahn

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  91. paul

    It means that we are better off than media and Rebublicans want us to believe

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  92. Vince Hugh

    Jack, the only way to make the left happy is if we were the bottom 1%! I guess I don't feel guilty about success...I was sorta raised that way.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  93. Jeff

    It is not that surprising when you consider that most of the world's wealth is concentrated in America and Europe. America is very large so that is why it accounts for half.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  94. Josh (North Dakota)

    Three words: Standard of Living

    January 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  95. David

    Isn't it obvious, Jack? It means that *this* is where the world's sharpest and shrewdest thieves, institutional and otherwise set up shop, and they are positively feasting.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  96. John

    American wealth doesn't just manifest itself out of nothingness, we're able to enjoy this "1%" status because we utilize and exploit the world around us. The very same way the wealthiest 1% of Americans exploit the 99%, the global 1% exploits the global 99%.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  97. Noah Manskar

    It means Americans take a lot of things for granted and that we're very self-centered as a nation, in the sense that we don't really care about what happens outside our borders. We've become too preoccupied with our money which has in turn made us too preoccupied with ourselves.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  98. David Ullman

    I'll bet it really means that we're probably the most ungrateful, wasteful nation in the world.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  99. Karen

    I will tell you what it means for 99% of Americans.
    Nothing. You cannot buy a $1,000 home to live in or buy a $4 goat to eat in the USA.
    Subtract what it costs to live, what is left over, and what it will buy.

    Karen in Georgia

    January 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  100. Jerome from Louisville

    It means the American experiment is working. Maybe we should reconsider that "fundamentally transform" business.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  101. Ben H

    It's all about putting it in perspective and context to the cost of living. I don't feel rich or privileged because I make more than the world average of $1,200. Agreeably these statistics are astounding, but I those numbers are a little swayed when pulled out of individual and regional circumstances.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  102. Will

    I am a member of the website team. Given how much this country produces, there is no excuse for the income disparity we see today, and the effect it has on our government. "Good enough" is absolutely not good enough. I for one refuse to accept this "lesser of two evils" argument. It will never be good enough until nobody goes hungry, cold, or sick. Here, elsewhere, everywhere.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  103. Justin

    These numbers are clearly skewed. You cannot compare $1200 in one economy to $34,000 in another without making cost of living adjustments. This is not to say that we are not spoiled or that we do not have a disproportional amount of 1%'ers in the US, but in our economy $1,200 is not what it is in South America or Africa.

    This is Apples vs. Oranges

    January 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  104. Roy E Pearson

    It means that there is a lot of room beneath us to fall. This is not a new phenomena, it just we are finally thinking about it. It would be nice if all the people in the world to have our way of life, but it is clear that others rise will mean our fall. That is the most important issue we face today: how to share our wealth and still maintain a lifestyle that is less.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  105. john talbott

    Something is wrong with your analysis. I guarantee you there are millions of people in China and India making more than $34,000 per person. 1.4 billion people in China, and there isn't at least five million people making $100K plus. Come on – use your common sense.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  106. Neil from houston TX

    So you cannot own a ferrari or a mansion with pool but can be labeled rich. Reminds me of the property tax I pay and actual market value

    January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  107. Magdy Ghobrial From RI

    In third world countries, you can live comfortably on $1,200 per year, in the U.S. it won't last you more than two weeks. The cost of living is not the same.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  108. Al

    The real question should be , who makes up America's top 1%?

    January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  109. roy in kansas

    with all the corruption going on in washington, the real surprise is that all of the half you reference isnt living there....
    as for me, i have enough money to last me the rest of my life- unless i buy something.....

    January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  110. PJNevada

    It means that America is still the land of opportunity that rewards achievement. Not that we're perfect, but its still a wonderful place.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  111. Renee Peoria,Ill

    With all due respect to those few who actually worked hard to get to the top, the truth is most of the 1% got where they are by taking advantage of everyone and anyone they could. If they have no problem lining their pockets with our money why stop there? Taking advantage of the world is just seen as more opportunity for those who worship money. Greed makes the world go round and we have politicians in this country working very hard to make sure it stays that way! If you are greed- driven, America is the place to be.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  112. Allen in Hoovervill

    Yeah we are the richest and can't even aford to go to the doctor. What does that tell you "Jack".

    January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  113. Michael G.

    I think it just says that America's reign is not over yet.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  114. Carlos Tacoma, WA

    It means that, the Democrats point of taxing the wealth of this county is correct and the Republicans idiotic view of keeping us peasants taxed more needs to be corrected.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  115. fittinguy

    Jack, the basic premise of the “study” you reference is pure idiocy. One cannot look purely at income levels to determine wealth. Wealth is an asset to liability ratio and the study you reference make no assertion for cost of living. Garbage in, garbage out. Poppycock!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  116. Tony in Ohio

    It means that those spoiled brats complaining......I mean protesting about the injustice of corporate America need to go flip burgers at Mcdonalds for a couple of years, work their way up to an assistant manager and without any college degree, training, or real book smarts voila! Your a one percenter! That is what they want Jack right? A piece of the pie? Their fair share? Truly they deserve what is rightfully theirs in a world where people live on less than 1200 a year right?

    January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  117. Sisu Michigan

    I think it's unfair to compare us with poorer nations. If you're doing that, then how does their cost of living compare as well? How much is rent, food, clothing, car insurance, health insurance, dental, eye care, medicine, gas, heat, electricity? Isn't this article kind of like Cain comparing apples to oranges?

    January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  118. Deborah Dawson, Ithaca NY

    Dear Jack,

    All this "stunning" fact means is that the standard of living in the USA is much higher than almost anywhere else in the world, which we all knew already. It doesn't mean we're all living the high life, though. As you well know, how well one lives is a function not only of one's income, but also of the cost of living. And the cost of living here in America is correspondingly much higher than almost anywhere else in the world. Can you imagine how impossible it would be for the globe's "true middle class" to live on $1200 a year in any American city? Now that's a stunning thought!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  119. sheba

    Concerning the 1% of the world, let's stay focused on the US. Did you know the Wal-Mart heirs net worth equals the total bottom 30 percent of Americans.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  120. Richard in Kingsville, Tx

    Jack, It seems to say that implementing policies of personal liberty and free markets tend to breed an environment of peace and prosperity which allow wealth to grow. If we want to stay at the top we need to get a grip on our debt and elect a game-changer in 2012 who understands placing liberty first is how we prospered to a world superpower and how we keep it. America needs a revolution, We need Ron Paul in 2012.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  121. bob yoder

    It simply means that we as americans are doing very well. Are you trying to get your viewers to feel badly about this?
    I for one do not feel badly about it one bit. If you look back at the history of our world can you name any country that
    has been so giving as the usa? when a disaster strikes who is the first to respond? what country saved europe twice?
    i am proud to be an american and i sure as heck do not want a secular progressive president apologizing
    for the greatest , most free and the country where opportunity for all still exists for those willing to work and risk.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  122. Sandra

    I had a flippant answer in mind when I read the Email, but after reading what you wrote I'm sitting here in stunned silence...according to your figures I am part of that 1% yet I struggle everyday to make ends meet. I'm on a fixed income because I'm retired.

    Galesburg IL

    January 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  123. CJ from Conn.

    These figures are irrelevant without considering the cost of living. How much does food and shelter cost in Africa? Also, how can you say that none of the world's richest 1% live in Africa, China or India? Mukesh Ambani anyone?

    January 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  124. Andy in Maryland

    Half of us are the "true" 1%, but the GOP keeps talking about cutting our "bloated" foreign aid budget, which, by the way, makes up less than 1% of federal expenditures. The UN challenged developed nations to contribute just .7% of their GDP to foreign aid, yet only Scandinavian countries have been able to meet this challenge. A country as wealthy as ours should be embarrassed that it wants to cut its already minuscule foreign aid budget when our military spending continues to balloon. I'm not saying we should completely redistribute wealth, but we could at least share a tiny bit of our vast blessings with those less fortunate.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  125. Chuck Wright, Georgia

    It means that giving tax breaks to the rich does not bring opportunity to those at the bottom. If you are blue collar and vote Republican you have been asleep for years. Jesus was right: 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God'.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  126. Joe Palen

    Apples and Oranges Jack. Example: it takes almost 10,000 Indonesian Rupia to buy $1.00 US. BUT it takes only about 300,000 Rupia per month to live reasonably well in Indonesia- $30 US. You have to compare local income with local cost of living. Then you see more equality. The problem (or opportunity) comes in international trade between two greatly unequal currencies.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  127. Curtis in Illinois

    I think Jack you're missing the point. People fed up not talking about the WORLD's 1%, but with the 1% here in the United States who get handouts and benefits that others can't get. When the 1% controls 90-95% of the wealth in the US but aren't required to pay thier fair share, where's the equality??

    When recent studies say that 50%, (that's FIFTY PERCENT) of the U.S. population earn BELOW the poverty level why not make the US 1% ers pay up?? You and people like Wolf Blitzer seem to care more about (and encourage) the disrepect of President Obama than rallying the country behind him and make congress do what is fair and right for the rest of America and tell the Special Interest to shove off.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  128. Chuka

    You said none of the the richest 1 percent is from Africa. That data is not accurate. There may not be millions of people, but there are many very wealthy Africans. Take Dangote from Nigeria who is listed as one of the richest people in the world by Forbes Magazine.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  129. net

    None of the 1% live in China and India? That has to be statistically and common sense false. Take a trip to any "third world" country. Every man, woman (and child, unfortunately) is an entrepreneur. People are moving from villages to cities, getting online, taking on new opportunities, full of hope for the future. Not to mention, they are mostly young. That is what matters. Not being debt-ridden, and keeping up appearances of being in 1%. While this may be true, it will not last long – especially since a lot of the debt is from those people crawling around in card board boxes, deferring their gratification, investing in education, business, while Americans are busy taking loans and spending every dime on stuff they make.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  130. Joan Kendall

    It means America has provided more prosperity and more freedom than any nation on earth ever.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  131. Harvey In Florida

    With great wealth comes great power, with great power comes great responsibility. So like it or not the USA must do things to make the world a better place, even if that means it cost money, because if we don't take the initiative things around the world will only get worse.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  132. Craig Traverse City MICHIGAN

    It should make every American HUMBLE! It still amazes me that some very wealthy Americans in comparison to our middle class income has treated us like we are not worthy or they are better than us. Not all wealthy, just a few. These 6 figure income folks can be ignorant. We are the top 1% and they are bold enough to treat us inferior. We all need to learn and live to be more humble!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  133. Jeff in Jersey

    Your statement that "None of the world's richest 1% live in Africa, China or India – statistically speaking." is a bit misleading. What is your cutoff? Would it be if the country falls below 1% (600,000?) Obviously there are people in China, Africa, India who make over $34,000 per year.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  134. Martha Brooks

    It means that we are the only ones with enough scratch to buy the stuff that keeps the rest of the world in beer & skittles, or donate to the charities that keep them from starving to death, and to pay the taxes that gives the Egyptian military $1 billion a year.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  135. Genney,Atl

    I don't know how or where they calculated the statistics from and they could be right.However I'll let you know people do not pay mortgages or car notes in any country in Africa.All homes,cars and dresses,shoes, electronics most people have, as opposed to some poorer,war-torn,drought-ravaged areas focused on by the media,are paid for CASH.Since Africa is a cash and not a credit society,I believe the statistical calculations are flawed somewhat.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  136. Linda Davis

    Jack, It means that in less than a 100 years (little more than a generation) when my Grandfather, like many of his generation, was pulled from school after the 3rd grade to work in a coal mine with his father because small bodies were needed to enter tiny spaces. He went on to word in a Ford factory after the mine closed and he and his wife who worked in a book bindery never complained about their lot in life and left a nice inheritance for their two children.

    My Grandfather and his wife would never have wasted time protesting when they could be doing productive work either at home or on the job.

    Linda Davis
    Ankeny, Iowa

    January 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  137. Ryan from Pismo Beach CA

    This means that we should be by far the most charitable nation in the world when dealing with our global social problems. We are fighting to get the top 1% to do their fair share to get the U.S. back on track; now that we know we are (by majority) the top 1% of the world's wealth, we should do our part to deal with our global social problems.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  138. David

    Considering the national debt, the average tax payer owes around $134,700 and increasing every day. Do you want to recalculate your numbers for the top 1%?

    January 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  139. one2question

    I was woundering when the rich would pull the world average into play. The problem with this is America has its own table of cards. To try and demonize the lower paid Americans is comparable to asking for forgiveness after robbing someone. If they want to compare lets compare prescriptions, gas prices, food and every other item that American's pays for, to what other people else where pay. Then lets look at the profit margins of all the corporations by the country they operate in, not the main office.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  140. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Dear Jack,

    since you were stunned at the number and I'm sure you are not the only one, could it mean we never really understood how the rest of the world live their daily realities, let alone understand how our own poor people live their realities here at home even if they are better off then the rest of the poor in the world! Now that we are aware, awake to this reality of ourselves one wonder will it change anything from our actions at home and abroad or will we forget about it as stunned as we are because some other news will come along and because we are afraid to have to give a little bit more! Yet, the realities of the poor does have tremendous impact here at home and abroad, on all people, all governments and on the ideal that we are all born with the right to live at least a life of basic human dignity!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  141. Mike in Rancho Mirage, CA

    It means that we Americans should be embarrassed.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  142. valerie holcombe

    I just returned from Oradea, Romania where I worked with a foundation to help the homeless, disabled, elderly, and children in three gypsy villages. Unlike us when we are experiencing hard times, these people do not have EBT cards, unemployment benefits, Medicade, welfare, or free lunches. So what is the answer to your question. From my experience, I believe that all of us in the US need to stop whining about what we don't have and start being thankful for what we do have-more than most!

    Hendersonville, NC

    January 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  143. Emma

    Really Jack? Are we at a point when we begin to compare our personal economic status to other nations? When did we get to this point or are we at a point where the media now begins to try and use this sort of tactic to make us feel financially equal to Wall Street? We are the USA, not China, not India, not Africa, so how they live in other countries has absolutely nothing to do with how we live in America. I am ashamed that the media would even use this comparison. I believe we are the greatest nation in the world, shouldn't we expect more or should we accept the medias poor attempt at making us believe we are as wealthy as the true 1%? Worst propoganda attempt ever!!
    Emma from Pittsburgh

    January 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  144. don

    yes they like to say Americans are all rich, but when you take in to account the cost of living in America we are not.
    with the deflation of the American dollar, and inflation of prices (mainly due to taxes) we are not rich.
    Having served in several different countries and war zones. the locals in Iraq and Afghanistan cant believe the price we pay for food and goods even in the PX.
    They greed for money from the stock market, hidden taxes on all products, property tax, income tax, FICA , medicare , social security. I pay more in taxes than the other people they claim only make 1200 a year.
    We need to cut taxes, reduce minimum wage (drives up prices) and mandate a cut in the price of goods.
    open American based factories, reinstate apprenticeship programs, not everyone needs a degree, they need real job skills. tax imports the way other countries do and get our country moving again.
    We as country are at the point Rome was during it's decline, the masses are lured to the tv and internet for the roman games (sports , dancing with stars, american idol, fantasy sportsect...) the masses 51% have their hands out for free bread that 49% pay for. ((those who pay taxes)).. The current political leadership and the U.N. love to tout that we are rich and need to pay for the rest of the worlds ill's. i.e. carbon credits.

    We are AMERICA. we should be on top and not be ashamed. but we are headed for economic collapse. and when the first well fare checks dont cash they we as Rome will burn. literally

    January 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  145. Elizabeth in California

    Americans do live in a wealthy country and even those in poverty are well off compared too much of the world. The percentage of people with no place to live or in danger of starvation is very low. However, placing us as half of the top 1% is partly mathematical trickery. Income is only part of the equation. Cost of living is also a factor. If a loaf of bread costs the equivalent of 10 cents in a country, then they do not need as much annual income as an American. A better measure might be how many hours of work are required to meet basic needs.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  146. Syamal Bhattacharya

    $1200 a year may sound awfully low. But it all depends on the buying power. In India people with such low income can buy a meal for Rs. 18, which is roughly US 30 cents. Also one can have a cell phone at Rs. 1, (US 0.02 cents). This is all relative. For his visit to India, President spent Rs. 200,000,000 per day (= $4,500,000) whic is not exhorbitant.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  147. Jennifer M in Winnipeg

    The U.S. has the one of the lowest tax rates in the world, which helps the 99% who actually PAY taxes.. However the U.S. also has a ton of tax breaks and loopholes for the 1% to take advantage of and pay little or no tax at all. The rich get richer ........

    January 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  148. John Schilling, Chambersburg, PA

    Why should this surprise you? We've been known as the land of opportunity for well over 100 years.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  149. Louis Hardin

    Come on Jack. It means you didn't take into account the cost of living in those other countries. Someone might make $1200/ year in africa but how much does a loaf of bread cost one penny? How about a house does that cost 100 dollars us? If I go to mexico with my american money I will be rich if a mexican comes here he will be poor. That is the' cost of living'.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  150. Sarah-Tucson, AZ

    This means that our amount of financal and political freedom is higher in the US. It also means that our economy is still a determining factor in the world's economy and we must do something about it (I.e. making Mr. Presedent and Congress work together even if it means holding all of them at gunpoint).

    January 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  151. David Taber

    The numbers you mentioned are only part of the "wealth" of people and nations. I believe if one were to take into account the debit position of the " 1%" and the assoicated debit carried by the nations they live in, the picture would be quite different indeed. Add up the personal, business and goverment debit in the US, which is in the trillions, to see just how wealthy the "1%" really are here. The great majority of people in the world have very little in the way of income, but very little debit. I wonder who really is better off.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  152. JimsDean

    They control their own countries from top to bottom, so their countries are a product of the people in them.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  153. samuel okediran

    Noting Really! I lived in Africa for seventeen years and if you make $34000 a year, you can buy a nice car, build a house and live very comfortable( and i'm sure this also applies to china and India), i guess what i am trying to say is that a person making $34000 in Africa is pretty much same as making over $100000 here in the US. For Christ sakes the cost of groceries alone in America will cost you almost $3000 more a year, Not to talk of health care, utilities, gas, housing and i can go on and on!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  154. Mike Hermanson

    If this comes to a shocker to anyone, I would say you need to open your eyes and look around you. Take a look out in your drive way and you probably have a car or two (or more). take a look in your closet and take note of how many sets of clothes you have (and then note how many you dont wear anymore). Do you have a hobby that you spend some disposable income on? Did you go to school when you were younger? Are you watching CNN now or reading this on the internet? If any of us really want to complain, I'd say we have it pretty good in the USA!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  155. Stephen

    Its amazing that we control so much money and yet our education systems are so terrible! If we have all the resources available and our schools are not the best in the world, what does that say about the so called "American spirit"? If we ever want to be "back on top" our leaders should build the education system back up,because now its in shambles and something needs to do something about it.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  156. Zoran, Canada

    Jack, you are missing real comparison with other countries. Example. In my country where i was born most people own hous without mortage, they can live with 12000$ a year much better than americans who make 50000$ a year. That is only one comparison, there is much more of those. Please use some facts then ask fear questions.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  157. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Since the beginning of time, those with most weapons have the most loot.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  158. Jax

    Hey Jack, I don't live in India or China, I live in the U.S. If you want a meaningful comparison of my standard of living, compare me to Danes, Germans, and Australians. Are you trying to redefine who the 1% are? Are you trying to say everything is great if you make $34k a year? My income is less than that. The 1% of Americans are doing great at everyone else's expense. The gap between the rich and poor, poverty, and the concentration of wealth in America is increasing as it looks more like India and Mexico every day. If billionaires can have a 15% tax rate, why can't the rest of us???

    January 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  159. R. Fry

    This Report would have been more relevant if it had related the annual incomes needed for the same standard of living in the areas compared. What difference would that have made in the conclusions of this Report?

    Income defined as "poverty level" in the US might be much above poverty in some other locations.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  160. Christopher A. Meza

    These figures signify that the United States has an unproportional amount of wealth. One must consider that our cheap goods, resources, and raw materials are obtained through transactions that don't proportionately affect the people who initially obtained or extracted such commodities. Think about the cheap goods one could obtain at Walmart. A foreign worker, likely from Asia, is paid pennies per article of clothing which allows for a person with low income in our country to obtain a pair of pants. The American consumer and the owner of these businesses are the winners in this situation. The workers of other countries are the losers.

    Even in these hard times, we are considered wealthy. I think we expect too much. We are taught to buy and consume. Our complaints are nothing compared to an Indian textile worker trying to feed and raise a family. We should be thankful of our wealth but we should also realize the true cost of obtaining these these goods.

    When one considers the top 1% of our country, the influence they have on our government and foreign policy, yes Jack Cafferty, 1% has a new meaning.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  161. Jamie White, Tacoma WA

    First it means that there are 4 billion more people in the world than are needed for everyone to have a middle class lifestyle without exhausting the earth's resources. As to the actual numbers. How much does it cost to live? You can starve in one place and have the lap of luxury in another for the same money.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm |