What "Percentage" American Are You? One Percent? Forty-Seven Percent? Ninety-Nine Percent?

Where do you fall in the numbered gradation America seems to have become?


There are a lot of numbers getting thrown around this election year. About the only sure figure anyone can agree on is that -- if by some stroke of luck and cosmic reorganization we come together as a people -- there'd be 100 percent of us.

But we seem to have fallen far short of that, with Americans lumping themselves or being lumped into various fractions this election year. There's Mitt Romney's 47 Percenters -- victims happily suckling at the government teat -- or the 99 Percent, the broadly suffering majority paying the bill for the free-spending excesses of those at the top of income distribution in America, the uber-rich One Percent.

Which percent are you? I guess we're 99 Percenters, not out of any shared idealism, though many of their arguments make sense, but because that fraction safely covers our lot in life while we avoid anything that smacks of the stigma of 47 Percent victimization, and because our jaws still drop at the price of milk. One Percenters, we have it on good authority, live in palaces and get their milk from cows with golden udders.

Since we depend on our employment for our incomes I guess that makes us workers, and since we pay far too much in taxes I guess that excludes us from membership in the One Percent. So it's the 99 Percenters for us. Up the proletariat.

Where doth thou lie, Lamorinda? I would imagine mostly with us worker bees, with a healthy smattering of the (hopefully) charitable One Percent. We'll see, as the idea for this little story was sprung this morning by readers eager to sound off online about "The Mitt Tapes" and candidate Romney's broad characterization of half of the country's population.

"Some will see this as a clear window into his true evil soul," one reader penned. "I find his comments remarkably candid and sensible….  I think he should embrace and underscore much of what he said."

Okay, we'll use that opinion as a launching pad for the rest of you. Pick your percent...

NOTE: Before you waste time chafing your bony little fingers pik-pokking us threats of violence and obloquy, we know the video of people commenting on candidate Romney's words came from the Obama-Biden camp. It was chosen solely for its production value and on-screen transcript of candidate Romney's  comments. That's it. No favoritism of any candidate implied or intended.

c5 September 20, 2012 at 01:31 PM
one of the more interesting observations i have about all this political stuff is just how naive this country's young adults are. they seem to have (generalizing i know) no idea of the sh*tstorm that is going to hit them if we, the current entitlement generation, continue to demand zero changes to this plan and that plan...there will be either nothing left for our kids, or they will be taxed so high as to have very little chance to save and spend the way they would like.... most of this comes down to a choice between spending now vs continuing to have a reasonable (not excessive as we do now) safety net for future generations. so far i don't see that we have the national gumption to make the right choices for our kids. we have santa claus running again for president (who i voted for) against a ticket that should be able to have an open and honest dialogue with the country, but so far is failing to do so in a coherent way. as a result, it is much easier to re-elect santa claus bearing gifts paid for with borrowed money and our childrens future...
WAO September 20, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Want to see the 47% grow even more? Then, make abortion illegal, outlaw birth control AND remove financial assistance for those in need. You’ve just created a scenario to grow this “victim-class”. Congratulations! Great strategy, Republicans! Not the party of smart, that’s for sure. In addition, Republicans say they don’t want government managing citizen’s lives. HOWEVER, you do want to overturn Row V. Wade so the government can “dictate” our family planning business. Talk about socialism or communism – it doesn’t get more “hitler-ish” than that. So, keep your hands off our uteruses! Come on smart women, vote Obama and keep your right to choose.
Chris Nicholson September 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
It is delusional and disingenuous to frame this election in terms of continued access to birth control and abortions. No rational person honestly thinks these items are actually in play. Contrast the fiscal issues which are 100% in play. We need a grown up assessment of the current and future economy, not "Godwin's Law"-validating hectoring imbued with eye-bulging fanaticism. If your arguments seem to work best when shouted through a distorted bull horn, perhaps have another look at their grounding in reality....
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM
It's delusional to think this election doesn't represent a threat to abortion: control of the Senate & the composition of the Supreme Court are on the line. But, it's fun to watch social conservatives try & pretend otherwise.
Chris Nicholson September 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM
The problem with delusion is that it is hard to self-diagnose. I should have been more precise. Of course electing a (ostensible, recent convert) pro-life Republican who will fill seats on the Sup. Ct. could put directional pressure on abortions, but what are the real odds that, no matter what, in eight years it will be illegal to get an abortion in the United States? I would absolutely bet $10K "Romney Bucks" that this will not be the case. The betting money is that IT JUST WON'T MATTER. Contrast that with fiscal issues. Does anyone think that the policies of the next 4-8 years won't matter?
c5 September 20, 2012 at 05:30 PM
not surprising, but disappointing that so many are focused on social issues in terms of voting right now. i'm worried that we are in the process of 'social issuing' our way to bankruptcy, leaving not much of a safety net for our kids. this is coming from an obama voter who is liberal on social issues but believes the defining issues for our kids are all fiscal...i'd like to see us leave a safety net for them and right now we aren't doing so.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Social conservatives are a fascinating bunch. They consist of the Meuser type who openly express a desire to expend considerable resources to outlaw abortion and the type who try to convince us that the possibility of outlawing abortion is remote, knowing that it is not. I have no problem banning the procedure on ethical grounds. However from a financial standpoint, outlawing abortion makes no sense, as taxpayers will be forced to support even more children under the hue & cry of "we can't let them starve" when in all honesty if a child starves the primary fault lies with the parents, not society's unwillingness to be an endless deep pocket. Admittedly it's a harsh reality but Mitt seems to recognize the value of expressing harsh realities.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 20, 2012 at 06:19 PM
It was a shame that Bush's own party shot down his immigration & social security reform ideas. They were some of the best ideas he had & might have left him with a much better legacy. The Republicans screwed him that's for sure.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 20, 2012 at 06:28 PM
The FICA self employment tax is the key proof that neither Republicans nor Democrats give one iota of concern about small business owners. Self employed small business owners should be allowed to accept a smaller entitlement at retirement in exchange for a reduction in a 15% tax.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 20, 2012 at 06:34 PM
And there lies the problem with most voters & political parties. It's constantly seen as an either/or because parties refuse to nominate or support those who believe in true small government, one that takes little in taxes because it recognizes it's not the role of government to dictate what's in our wallet or bedroom. Republicans & Democrats need to look no further than their own reflection when wondering who destroyed our country.
Chris Nicholson September 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
When a perfect candidate runs, s/he'll get my vote. Failing that, I support the least imperfect candidate. Ian, how do you choose?
Jose September 21, 2012 at 09:05 PM
11 Percent. Per Ezra Klein's Wonkblog, that is what candidate Romney owed in federal taxes in 2011. He apparently INCREASED his tax liability by claiming only a portion of his charitable contributions so that he would not contradict what he had promised on the campaign trail, namely that he had not paid less that 13 something percent in the last 10 years. Of course, it's not a win-win scenario for the candidate. He looks generous, even magnanimous, but he is still an uber rich guy who only OWED 11% in taxes and who is promising to fight to lower the taxes of the uber rich, a measure Democrats oppose. And, given the way the polls are starting to gradually tilt, that largesse may just sting a bit come mid-November. Thanks, Mitt.
Chris Nicholson September 21, 2012 at 11:35 PM
This is silly. The guy gives away a huge percentage of his income. If he gave away all his income, would people bitch that he had a zero rate?
MG September 21, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Yes they would, especially when the media is serving as Obama's press office. Food for thought: If someone made $5 million and gave it all to the United Way, he would still face a $850K tax bill given limited deduction on charitable giving. ABC, MSDNC, CBS and CNN would say he only paid 16% tax rate. The actual rate given he gave it all away would be infinite.
Jose September 22, 2012 at 03:25 AM
It's pretty funny, don't you think? He pays an estimated $260k more than he owes so that he won't appear to be a slacker at 11%. What, is he embarassed? Is he unable to explain why 11% is fair? Sure,"they" will attack him over it. "They" should. He hasn't proven himself very good at explaining himself so far. Is this an example of his financial acumen? I ask you, is this a guy who wants to defend his principles? He either believes 11% is defensible or he doesn't. You can bet he wouldn't have paid 14% if he didn't have to disclose it. Conservatives need to get their act together and find better candidates. The finger pointing has started 50 days BEFORE the election.
Chris Nicholson September 22, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Would it be "better" if he gamed the numbers by NOT being so charitable? Is the ability to give away pre-tax dollars to charity an objectionable aspect of the tax code? I have not heard this objection advanced from the left. The only "argument" I have heard is "14 is a low number and 11 is a lower number"-- without any meaningful context. Percentages don't pay for social welfare programs, dollars do. How about focusing on how many DOLLARS Romney has paid into the Treasury in his life.....
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 22, 2012 at 03:40 AM
"...would people bitch..." - probably. just like you do about every candidate who's not a social conservative.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 22, 2012 at 03:43 AM
What the point should be is that he paid what the law requires. He's not to blame for his tax rate. If people want to be upset about that then they need to look to Congress, not to Romney. This entire taxes paid argument is simply a distraction from real issues. The only way a candidate's taxes would be relevant were if he wasn't paying them. That's tax evasion and criminal. Romney hasn't done anything approaching tax evasion so this entire argument is silly & absolutely irrelevant.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 22, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Who cares what someone gives to charity? I can't fathom why anyone cares one way or the other. I wouldn't care if a candidate gave 100% to charity or zero.
Chris Nicholson September 22, 2012 at 03:48 AM
@Ian: Huh? Where did you get that impression? I am 100% consistently pro-freedom. Where have I ever supported a position that limits the ability of people to do what they want in their private lives? I don't think the government should have any ability to limit what you put in your body or what you do in your bedroom. Abortion is a tricky moral issue, but I think the choice should be with the mother and not the government. By what definition are these the view of a social conservative? I do have opinions on these issue, but neither I nor the government should impose my (or their) views on anyone.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 22, 2012 at 03:54 AM
@Chris - “Whether someone punches you in the nose because they really hate you, or they punch you in the nose because they want to impress people who hate you, you still have a broken nose.”
Jose September 22, 2012 at 04:00 AM
You were right the first time. This is silly. Why would he give away more than he had to, in order to avoid defending paying what he owed? I am not making the fairness argument. I am simply saying that HE is unwilling to make the argument for himself. Yet he thinks that he can sell the idea of lower taxes for himself and other rich people. Mitt seems to be suffering some sort of identity crisis. He just doesn't know who he is, today, yesterday, tomorrow.
Jose September 22, 2012 at 04:51 AM
To clarify my last point..."why would he GIVE AWAY more than he had to" refers to the est $260k in taxes that he paid, that he didn't owe. He paid the extra taxes solely to avoid defending his actual tax rate which was estimated to be 11%.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 22, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Jose - Who cares? As long as he satisfied his tax liability, I don't care if he paid extra or not. When it comes to income taxes the only relevant questions is: Guilty of tax evasion? If the answer is no, then you move on. The answer to this question with respect to Romney is, "No." So, Americans need to move on & stop worrying about his tax rate or if he paid more. No fraud. No evasion. Issue resolved.
Jose September 22, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Ian: Mitt Romney is not your average Joe Millionaire. He is running for President of the United States on a platform of tax cuts and tax reform. My POINT is that if he is unwilling to defend the current tax rates for millionaires as fair, how can he sell the nation on extending them or lowering them? If he thinks 11% is fair why does he dress it up as 14%? He is simply unwilling to defend the actual rates as fair, except by using unfounded platitudes. And don't worry about Mitt. He can file an amended tax return on November 7 and get his proper deduction.
MG September 22, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Jose, It's ignorant to keep using the 11% argument like the Obama supportive media. His "in the real world" tax rate was 25%. In the real world you don't get dinged for tax on money you give away, i.e. don't keep. The total tax on what he didn't give away was 25%. Using your illogic, someone who gave away 100% of their earnings would still be paying an 11% tax.
Jose September 22, 2012 at 06:04 PM
50%. (He believes it half the time.) Per USA TODAY today: During a South Carolina primary debate in January, Romney said he had only paid "the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more." "I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes," he said. Romney told ABC News in July," Frankly, if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires." Once again, it is Romney vs Romney. The new Romney has a new position on paying more than he owes.
MG September 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Jose, Your last post was beyond ignorance, like ignorance with a dash of stupidity.
Chris F. September 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM
I am a 95% not a 99% , I am middle class, Sometimes I have no class at all.
Larry Tessler September 23, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Ah, such a relaxing 15 minutes. Perusing testosterone laden comments (with apologies if one or more of you is an estrogen loaded lady) is fun! I rather liken this to reading a novel. Sort of like the pulp fiction of old. And here is what I’ve learned: It’s the government’s job to “help” people. Corporations don’t pay enough tax and can raise their prices at will. Corporations pay too much tax and are just uncompetitive on the world market. There’s a general truth. No, there isn’t. Romney flip-flops. Obama, on the other hand, is solidly consistent with the fables he tells. (I love them. The economy is improving and all is well in the world. Osama’s dead after all). Means testing is good. Do income taxes paid on social security payments count here? Schools are evidence of socialism…as opposed, I suppose…to a group of people getting together to more efficiently educate their kids. The deficit might as well keep going up. It works just like housing prices? Mortgage interest deductions don’t count as “people” welfare but corporate deductions do. Did I get that right? 15.3% payroll tax? Outrageous. Oh, 7.15% is deductible. Elect the R’s and their goes R v. W. And, I should pay for your birth control. We ought to criticize Romney for paying more taxes that legally required. Should we ask him to stop being charitable too? Anyone out there who itemizes doesn’t deduct charitable contributions? J.D., how about another topic? I need another good laugh.


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