Did you and your spouse each earn 48,500k last year? Or did you, as the sole bread-winner, make 97k? Welcome to the top 20% of US household incomes!
Yes folks, that’s what it takes to be part of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world in the wealthiest countries in the world. This is how the numbers stacked up in 2006 according to the US Census.
Top 1% – $365k
Top 5% – $174k
Top 20% – $97k
Top 40% – $60k
Top 50% – $48k
Lowest 20% – $20k
Each number is the lower limit of the quintile. Thus, each quintile mean (average) is more but never more than the next lower limit.
Also, note this number is for *household* income. As you can guess, married couples are disproportionately represented in the upper two quintiles as most are dual-earner households. That is, if you are like 70% of American households. The combined amount is your household income. Kudos to the minorities that can get here with just one income. This is a time when it’s great indeed to be a minority.
If you are sadly overly competitive and want to compare your salary with the rest of the US, here is that same chart if you were to divide the household income by each wage-earner.
Top 1% – $182.5k
Top 5% – $87k
Top 20% – $48.5k
Top 40% – $30k
Top 50% – $24k
Other Members of the Group
As stated before, this is an exclusive group that tends to have specific requirements such as the following:
- You are pale. 87.93% of all households in the top 5% were headed by a whitey, even though this was roughly 75.1% of all persons in 2000.
- You are male. A typical male earns $33.5k, while a females earns $19.7k
What does being male and pale have to do with income? Clearly, a lot. You have made the decision to endow yourself with that society wishes to highly compensate. Specifically, you decided early on to have a Y chromosome and not be tainted with overabundant amounts of melanin. Such decisions are a sign of your continued future success.
What about education? An education erases all inequalities!
Sorry high school drop-outs like Dave Thomas, Peter Jennings, and Whoopie Goldberg, but this appears to be true. The more educated you are, the higher the income. The median individual income of a male high school drop-out was $19k, while a male with a master’s degree came home with $61.7k.
And good news ladies — you could boost your salaries to make 65.8% of your male counterpart’s income with the same degree! Spend as much time and money on a master’s degree, but only get 2/3 the return on investment.
But let’s be positive. This is clearly better than making 59.1% like those no high school diploma gals. Besides, getting an education, a high school one at that, isn’t the way to fame and fortune. Just ask Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Jessica Simpson.
Fine. Rich white men rule the nation. But they also pay the most taxes.
The wealthiest 1% earn 19% of total income but pay 37% of all taxes. You know, the family next door amassing 365k/year.
In fact, the top 50% of households pay 96.9% of all taxes. That means the bottom half of households, those making less than 48k or 24k individually for dual-earners are living off the hard work of everyone else. Bastards. I don’t care if you are working full time making minimum wage at McDonalds with no vacation and making $12,168/year. Get another job, work 80 hours/week, every week of the year and make $24k like everyone else. It is your fault that you are lazy, uneducated, not white and not male.
Should we feel sorry for the top percentiles?
In the last wealth survey in 1998, the richest 1 percent of households owned 38 percent of all wealth. These are the same poor bastards paying 37% of all taxes!
Ah, wealth. Also known as net worth, you can calculate this by taking your assets (real estate, savings, investments, life insurance) and subtracting your debt (mortgage, loans). The top 5 percent of wage-earners owned more than half of all wealth. The top 20 percent owns over 80 percent of all wealth.
Why did the top percentiles get so much wealth? Wealth (typically) begets wealth. If you were given 1 million dollars tomorrow and simply placed it in a CD, you would live as one of the top 40% of households on interest alone (assuming a 5.5% interest rate). Granted, inflation would decrease the value of your original million over time, but you get the point. It’s a lost easier to grow a million dollars than $10k especially over time (the power of compound interest). This is especially true if you are a silver spoon with old money from your hard working white, male ancestors (who owned slaves).
Enough Bitching. Any ideas?
One more gripe — if you are white and male you tend to be wealthier than those who do not sure your same gumption (to be white and male).
Ok, I like this one.
I would model [a wealth tax system] after the Swiss system…a progressive tax. In the United States, the first $250,000 of wealth would be exempt from the tax. That would exclude 80 percent of all families. The tax would increase at increments, starting out at .2 percent from about $250,000 to $500,000. It would not be a very severe tax. In fact, the loading charges on most mutual funds are typically of the order of 1 or 2 percent. It could raise about $60 billion annually. Eighty percent of families would pay nothing, and 95 percent of families would pay less than $1,000. It would really only affect very rich families.
$60 billion a year! That could fund a war for over 7 months!