Are You A Member Of The "1%" - In 2012 A Record 166 Americans Made Over $50 Million

Tyler Durden's picture

Never in US history have so many individuals earned over $50 million per year.


Never before has the divide between the wealthy and the poor been so wide (never).


The source of this catalyst for unrest in society, as Mark Spitznagel warned, is not runaway entrepreneurial capitalism, which rewards those who best serve the consumer in product and price. (Would we really want it any other way?) There is another force that has turned a natural divide into a chasm: the Federal Reserve. The relentless expansion of credit by the Fed creates artificial disparities based on political privilege and economic power.


The actual distribution of wealth in America is mind-boggling - the following shows the pattern of income is similar to a power-log function (often referred to by Didier Sornette as the basis for his bubble indicator)...

As Spitznagel concludes so succinctly:

"The Fed is transferring immense wealth from the middle class to the most affluent, from the least privileged to the most privileged. This coercive redistribution has been a far more egregious source of disparity than the president's presumption of tax unfairness (if there is anything unfair about approximately half of a population paying zero income taxes) or deregulation.


Pitting economic classes against each other is a divisive tactic that benefits no one. Yet if there is any upside, it is perhaps a closer examination of the true causes of the problem. Before we start down the path of arguing about the merits of redistributing wealth to benefit the many, why not first stop redistributing it to the most privileged?"

Finally, while the whole 1% meme may be so 2011 (now it is more 0.001%), for those wondering if they made the "cutoff", the answer is if you made over $200,000 then yes.

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Alcoholic Native American's picture

I'm sure they are worth every penny.

Arius's picture

...and more... it will trickle down ... just watch

AlaricBalth's picture

The max tax bracket in 1929 was 24% on income over $100,000, down from 73% on income over $1,000,000 in 1920. After that max tax rates fluctuated between 60% and 94% from 1932 to 1981. In 1982 Reagan and Congress lowered the max rate to 50% from 69.5%.

It would be interesting to graph these rates to coincide with the second chart.

Popo's picture

If wealth begets more wealth, it doesn't take a genius to see that eventually all the wealth ends up in just a few hands.

The only thing that ever prevents the accumulation of wealth into the hands of a tiny few is 'instability.'

Which is why "stability" is just a code word meaning, "the continued trend of wealth concentration into the hands of the few."

And it's why "instability" is of vital social importance. (And why the Fed is so entirely evil).

Zer0head's picture


166?  try 666


and then add in the carried interest types, as in6662


take a drive thru some of America's wealthy hoods, for that matter wander thru the Upper East Side, Hamptons, Florida's or California's coastal jewels - there is so much fucking money out there it boggles the mind


check out the exec jet ports dotted across the US of A

$50m flying limos that cost $5k/hour to operate all tax free of course funded by almost tax free "income"

waiting lists for yachts

waiting list for $75k private grade school for the  preciouses

half million dollar bids for charity auction trinkets

spending the day on how to cut 500 jobs out of acme manufacturing company in asslick flyover country

if the great unwashed had just a hint of the decadent, opulent and outrageous lifestyles of some 40 something money manager who literally spends more on his energy bill in one of his 5 homes then some poor working stiff makes in a year in a retail outlet, which that same money manger bought and sold last year for a profit of untold carried interest tens of millions through a clever maneuver that included pressuring his Bangledeshi supplier to reduce the cost from 24cents/piece to 22 cents and converting staff here in the US from full time to temp. 




JohnnyBriefcase's picture

if the great unwashed had just a hint.


That's why we have awards shows and sports and tabloids and...

markmotive's picture

And the government's attempt at the redistribution of wealth (read health) only f@cks it up worse.

The Mises View on Healthcare and Free Markets:

James_Cole's picture

The secret to wealth redistribution is it's always about moving capital away from the many and into the hands of the few. There have been a few historical exceptions, but generally that's how it's supposed to work. 

GetZeeGold's picture



The hatred of the 1% can be bottled and used for great evil.


Mass millions killed so far.....and counting.

lewy14's picture

The situation on the ground is... the billionaires (Buffet, Gates, Soros, Bill Gross, et al) enlist the poor and the disenfranchised (and justifiably bitter) middle class, and advocate expropriating "the 1%" (meaning those over $200K income and a few million in assets)... so they can pick up bargains - smaller family businesses, smaller companies, etc - and in return for enhancing the power of the state, they will be allowed to front-run the state. 

The millionaires - whether they got their wealth fairly or not - will be expropriated, and the concentration of wealth among the billionaires will only increase. 

And because the billionaires left standing will have taken the oath - All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state - they will be hailed as selfless heroes by the mass media.

eatthebanksters's picture

That number is ridiculously low...there are more than 166 Hedge Fund managers who made more that $50 mill last year.  There are more that 166 people in Silicon Valley who made more than $50 mill last year.  There are probably more hollywood stars (both movie and TV) and athletes that made more than $50 mill last year (think about endorsement deals).

Where the fuck did this number come from, Lois Lerner?

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

I don't believe anything the Bureau of Bullshit tells us.  Those numbers are what they are so they can justify raising taxes on married couples making only $250K.  Its just a means to put a ceiling on their earning potential.  And annual earnings and tax rates dont mean shit anyways.  The ultra wealthy control almost all of the wealth, so they can afford to go Gault if they need to and still live like kings.   Short of a wealth confiscation, how are they going to get at that?  Oh wait....

quintago's picture

Those people are on the Cayman list.

Caviar Emptor's picture

Look at the column header: "wage earners". Carried interest is not wage. Structured bonuses and golden parachutes, options packages, dividends and trusts, passive losses against income AND capital gains are NOT wages.
Shows to go ya: treachery wins out over youth and enthusiasm (and 'entrepreneurship') everytime

James_Cole's picture

If one has any questions about the US being an oligopoly, one simply needs to spend ten seconds looking at taxes...also a good example of how proficient the propaganda system is. 

seek's picture

Tax rates/brackets mean nothing. It's the effective rate that counts. The US has never collected more than 25% of GDP in tax revenues (all sources) and the top end effective rate has been 35% +/- since the institution of the income tax. Rates are just a lie used to make you think the rich are/aren't getting screwed over. One page of the tax code is rates -- the other 20K+ pages are where the interesting freebies are.

The country did fine without an income tax for over 100 years. Nuke it again, crank excise and sales taxes up, send everyone a small rebate check every quarter and be amazed that collections and fairness increase.

disabledvet's picture

you do get paid to live in Alaska. That trend could continue in other states as well. talk about "social security." that Calpers thing in California is absolutely huge right of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world actually. Texas could very much do the same thing and so could North Dakota. Same could hold true for the State of Washington as well. All of them in effect would be breaking free of the "Wall Street/DC Nexus" insodoing as well. Texas already has its own gold reserves. There is nothing to prevent these other States from doing the same thing. (an interesting one is the Pacific Northwest. they already have huge silver deposits up there and the cheapest electricity in the world basically. Work out a deal with British Columbia to supply an infinite amount of natural gas to them...that might get things moving in the right direction.) QE and the zero bound rate policy has made this the weirdest economic recovery ever that's fer sure. is it the best ever? the worst ever? definitely "most surprising ever."

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

10-4, seek.  + 1

Those are voluntary taxes to boot, you only pay when you consume, that would encourage savings.  Something could be wroked out (as you suggest) on the regressivity od sales taxes.

HungryPorkChop's picture

I've never been in favor of ramping up taxes but this one area where the govt should have tax rates like 75% and 90%.  If you study history you'll note when the middle class was doing the best and growing like in the 50's and 60's the rich had sky high taxes.

It created a very strong incentive to invest in the workers with better wages, equipment and new manufacturing plants.   Otherwise all of that money went to the govt coffers.  So they could either be a hero and help out their workers or just pay all that money to Uncle Sam.   With incredibly low tax rates like 30% it creates a situation where someone making $50 or $100 Million hoards the money and puts into asset classes like the Stock Market or Real Estate. It does not trickle down to the average worker in any meaningful form that allows for good jobs or wage increases.  The last 10 years have proven that point beyond a reasonable doubt!

mark mchugh's picture

HPC you are 100% correct.  It's very disappointing to see the number of junks you got.  ZH has its fair share of dimwits who simply don't understand where wealth comes from or how tax policy works in practice.

Deficit spending has accounted for 100% of corporate profits since 2007, so the notion that the rich are "earning" their wealth is absurd.  Allowing corporations and rich individuals to hoard the deficit dollars blasted into the economy by the government ensures collapse.  The threat of taxation forces them to reinvest.  It's astonishing how many don't get it.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Sorry but you 2 are idiots.  No one paid 90% effective tax rates back then.  The tax code was full of loopholes.  You are just useful idiots to suggest it again. 

Who on earth would work 9 days out of 10 for the government?  Because thats what you are suggesting with a 90% tax rate.

mark mchugh's picture

No shit, Sherlock

You think 'cause you're against taxes, you're a libertarian or something.  No, you're just a fucking retard who has no idea what tax policies work and what ones don't. Where do you think 2012's $1.2 Trillion in deficit spending wound up?  In the mattresses of poor people?

No, it wound up in the pockets of rich people who've convinced useful idiots like yourself that if you tax them things will get worse.  Avoiding taxes is easy:  Buy new equipment, expand, hire, pay more.  Do it well and your fortune increases.

The reason America's rich are scared shitless of taxation is because in their heart of hearts they know they are the real beneficiaries of the welfare state, and that they could not stand on merit.

Guess you'll be lobbying for removal of the debt ceiling too, right?

mark mchugh's picture

Yeah.  Thanks's for playing.  

The fact that someone displaying your mental acuity can "retire at 45" in this country tells me everything.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

You are only half right asshat. That trillion in deficit spending is made possible by the Fed. But throwing a married couple making 250K into the highest tax bracket is a fucking joke. Raising income taxes isn't going to get at the wealth that the rich have already accumulated. How much income tax doesnWarren Buffet pay? The rich don't pay income tax. They won't ever get their wealth confiscated either. Go ahead, jack up the tax rates. I'm not working 9 days out of 10 for your peice of shit government.

mark mchugh's picture

First of all. at 250K, you ain't rich, and where do see ANYBODY suggesting that you get taxed at 90%?  And this definitely, definitely isn't MY piece of shit government.  I have but one simple request: Don't let the government borrow money.  period.  That's all.  Nothing else.

Know why? Because when government's start borrowing money, delusional dimwits like you a) start making 250k b) Think you're rich. c) Start identifying with people who actually are rich. d) Think people want all your money.

I just don't want you to have MY money, get it?

When the budget's balanced, you can keep it all.  But what I discover again and again is that people like you don't want a balanced budget because you are actually a beneficiary of the welfare state (you certainly quack like a duck).  In other words, you're a parasite.  Without the government's sugar, you'd be lucky to be slingin' burritos.  

So just say it: I like deficit spending because I'm a parasite.

mark mchugh's picture

I think it's adorable that you lumped yourself in with people making 200 times more than you too.

Maybe we should get a kid who cuts his grandmom's lawn to discuss tax policy next.

Watauga's picture

The happy couple:

Gross income: $250,000

Total paid federal and state income taxes: $50,000

Total paid Social Security and Medicare: $15,000

Total paid in real estate, personal property, sales, gas, etc. taxes $20,000

Total paid for college tuition, fees, room, and board for two children: $80,000

Total paid in communications and utilities: $8,000

Total paid for gasoline for commuter cars: $5,000

Total paid for health, life, car, and property insurances: $20,000

Leaving $42,000 net for household, of which $35,000 is put into retirement savings in the hope the govt will not steal it before they retire.

A man and a woman--the happy couple--with a combined income of $250,000, has $7,000 of expendable income for food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, car maintenance, and any extras.  There are no nights out, or vacations, medical deductibles and co-pays, or investment funds.  They may not even pay all the bills.

Now, you may ask, why would anyone spend $80,000 for two college students?  Well, in-State rates are about $30,000, and out-of-State rates are about $40,000.  Why send the kids out of State?  Because the only good colleges in State accept thousands of students with grades/SAT scores/extracurriculars way below those of their kids, leaving only the lower level schools for many top students of the wrong "persuasion" (e.g., 4.32 GPA with 5 APs, 730/700/670 SATs, and all-State athlete in two sports cannot get into State Univ #1; hmmmmmm. . . ).  The best out-of-State schools, however, gladly will accept these students. 

Which brings us to this--not only do these kids not get into State U #1, they don't get in because kids with much lesser qualifications DO get in.  And guess what, our happy couple GET TO PAY for these less-qualified kids through both federal and state taxation AND higher tuition all around (paying, in this case, the higher tuition at out-of-State  U #1).  What a stinking racket.  Talk about true wealth redistribution!  The happy couple pay for local public education for all (even though most kids with the means go to private school at high cost just to avoid the risks and dangers of public schools in the area), breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all, after school care for all, special services for all, and state U for all.

So, let's go back to the top.  Let's say it is reasonable for the federal govt to tax the happy couple at about $5,000 to pay for govt services provided pursuant to the govt ENUMERATED POWERS.  And say the state total is about $1000.  $85,000 - $6,000 = $79,000.  That $79,000 SHOULD BE THE HAPPY COUPLE'S to do with as they please.  Instead, it is STOLEN from them and used to buy votes.  Period. 

Yes, there is NO doubt that the wealth redistribution also largely goes NORTH to the monied interests.  Probably more goes that direction.  But the GUY IN THE MIDDLE, which includes our $250,000 per year happy couple, pays SOUTHWARD as well.  Bottom line--the guy in the middle is ruined. 




Zero Point's picture

I'm a libertarian, and as such I almost agree with you here (and gave you green).

Fact is, these people didn't earn this money, they paid off a corrupt bunch of gangsters to make their crimes legal.

Taxation really is not the answer.

Legislating these vermin into a cell or a noose is.

nope-1004's picture

For I tell you, it will be easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven.

'Nuff said.


RichardP's picture

Why would anyone want to push a cigarette through the eye of a needle?

akak's picture

It's a lot easier to thread your needle through a camel toe.

Zero Point's picture

A needle?

Speak for yourself bro.

akak's picture

I was, of course, speaking purely as an ananonymystical Chinese Citizenism citizen who had not yet had his daily dose of tiger penis and bear gall bladder in human fetus broth in order to make big(ger) the diminutive chinaman peepee.

Zero Point's picture

Haha. OK then. Green.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

France was experiencing regressive taxation before the Revolution. I think starvation was what probably kicked it off though. We may have a bit more of a wait.


prains's picture

pretty soon $50 Mil is going to buy you three eggs

PT's picture

Yeah, 20 years ago 50 mil could buy 500 really nice houses.  Now it will buy 50-100 houses.

pomlad5's picture

on the egg farm they just bought for 100k.

JB's picture

The top .1% controls 40% if the wealth.

The top 20% controls NINETY-THREE PERCENT of the wealth.

doctor10's picture

Could care less who made how much.

Do care who made how many JOBS. In so doing, how much have they returned to their communities? Any of these 50X milllionaires industrialists? Any run large software companies? 

Or have they all high frequency traded themselves into "privelege" with an obliging and compliant SEC/CFTC?  Or  are these adept taxpayer theives recycling a piece back to the regulators and politicians that enable the status quo?


for some reason my bet is the latter-but could be wrong

doctor10's picture

"The relentless expansion of credit by the Fed creates artificial disparities based on political privilege and economic power"


Almost. But not quite. What it has done is create a class of serfs and overlords. that's what their investment in "Homeland Security" is ultimately all about.  None of the serfs getting through TSA and getting close to the enclaves in Darien and Palm Beach

Hulk's picture

Thorstein Heins. Destroying companies ain't easy, ya know...

nmewn's picture

lol...inducted into the Hall of Dorks on just the name alone.

fonzannoon's picture

Is this what we have degraded to on here? Ripping on the old guy from "Back to School"?

Hulk's picture

Touchdown GreenBay !!! Sorry, what were we talking about ???

robertocarlos's picture

Without a billionaire owner there would be no Packers.

Hulk's picture

LOL. But the packers are owned by the greenbay community...