Monday, 14 November 2011

I am the 1%

All these #occupy movements got me thinking a little bit. The groups are claiming to be made up of the 99% of the least richest people and they are protesting against the top 1%. Exactly what for is sometimes a little hazy, but the fact that the worlds richest 1% own and control so much of the worlds wealth and resources is a cause for protest. It simply does seem unfair. (I remember a friend of mine told me in jest that I couldn't be a communist any more after I took out a home lone because I was now owning private property. And technically the land in Canberra is only leased for 99 years so maybe I still can wear red while renting on commonwealth land).

I found this site, Global Rich List, and according to them if you earn over $US48,000 a year, you are in the richest 1% in the world. The data they are using is quite old now, so maybe this stat is unfounded. The site has the world's population out by a billion and their numbers for the world's medium income is from 1999. But I have a feeling (and so do 84% in Australia in 2008), that despite the great global financial crisis the division between rich and poor hasn't been reduced. This means I am am part of the 1%.

Again from the Global Rich List site, if you earn over $US10,000 a year you are in the top 13% of the wealthiest in the world. Don't get me wrong, I do think developed nations contain very poor people who struggle with the amount of money they get when compared to their local cost of living, but I wonder how many of the #occupy protesters are actually better off than they think they are, especially those in Australia. If you can tweet against the worlds richest people from your iPhone that is on a two year, $39 a month plan, then you are doing alright.

A few years ago I thought it was quite appalling that 6% of the 2008 US bank bail out could have helped give clean water to everyone in the world (not including on going cost, and yes I know just throwing money at the problem wouldn't solve it - but I think it would go a long way). That alone shows that the Western world cares more about banks then poorer countries. But it is easy for me to rage and protest against "the Western world" and the evil banks and forget about my own context and the territory that I live in.

Australia is quite well off, but Canberra (most likely because of its smaller population) does better compared to the national average. We have a lower unemployment rate and a higher average weekly income (fast facts, ABS).

Knowing that I am part of the 1% still makes me think the wealth distribution throughout the World is unfair, but if anyone is able to afford helping the poor, it should be the wealthy. The general wealthy may or may not have the same convictions that I do, but I think at least the wealthy Christians do and should.

So I put this out there: if you are a Christian and earn over $48,000 a year, really ask yourself: "What am I doing to help reduce the rich-poor divide?"

Related post:
Christian: give away your money


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