History will tell if the Occupy Movement spurs any sort of actual change in America. I line up on some the issues of societal justice that the movement desires. I also disagree with some things. Here is something I do believe:
The wealthy have a unique responsibility.
The wealthiest of the wealthy – the top 1% – even more so.
My friend Wess Stafford says this:
“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. The opposite of poverty is enough.”
He’s probably right. I don’t have any problem with wealthy people enjoying life, spending their money and having some fun. I just think that the world is much better when rich people are radically generous. I couldn’t imagine someone waking up everyday knowing that they were part of the 1% of the wealthiest people in the world and not doing something for the other 99%. And yet so many do.
The web is full of peaceful protestors posting photos as part of the 99%, like this one.
Here’s a quote from the original Occupy Wall Street tumbler site:
“We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.”
I get what they are saying. It simply isn’t fair that the extremely rich – the one guy out of every 100 – holds almost all the wealth. Especially when so many of the 99% are legitimately hungry, homeless and oppressed. I know it can get politically complicated in the details, but I get the sentiment. Again, I am not against the cause. It’s just hard for me to be completely behind it because…
Here’s my big confession. I say this with a little embarrassment and a lot of humility.
I am part of the 1%.
I am one of those guys. I am ridiculously wealthy. This may surprise some of you who don’t know my story very well – where I have come from, my family heritage, etc. I hide my wealth very well. It makes me uncomfortable to flaunt it. It is hard to write about it now.
So you can see why the Occupy Movement creates mixed emotions in me. Unlike most everyone else alive on the planet, I have a unique responsibility to be especially generous. And, to be frank, I don’t think I am doing exceptionally well. (Full disclosure: In 2010, I only gave away about 14% of my income to charity. That just doesn’t seem like enough for someone as blessed as me. I have simply gotten used to living on the 86%. It is hard to give more away.)
The Occupy Movement is made up of people from the 99% of Americans frustrated that 1% of their fellow Americans hold most of the nation’s wealth. It is true that I am not part of that 1%.
But I am part of the 1% worldwide.
According to an article on CNNMoney yesterday, to be in the top 1% of the world’s worth, your annual income (after taxes) must exceed:
Half of the world’s wealthiest 1% live in America.
I am part of the 1%
What in the world are we going to do about it?
My friend Wess, whom I mentioned above, can help you be more generous if you want. He helped me.
He is the president of this company. He takes money from rich people like me and gives it to the poor.
This post isn’t really about trying to get money for Wess’ company per se, but I would like to challenge you to consider doing something similar in 2012. Especially if you are as rich as me. Maybe even post a public photo admission like this one telling the rest of the world that you are part of the 1%…and what you are going to do about it.
Here’s my photo admission.
Taken from my iPhone.
Written on my iPad.