1% vs 99%? Reality Check and Some Soul Searching

by Gary Brumback

Special Guest Commentary/ Exclusive to The Big Picture Report

I’m not a demographer, a statistician, or a sociologist, but I don’t need to be to know that the slogan “1% vs 99” is not a factual statement. You undoubtedly know that, too. It’s a rallying call. It also symbolizes an actual fact, namely, that among industrialized nations America has the worst income gap and the worst ranking on all other important socioeconomic indices.

But I’ll play amateur demographer for a moment and estimate that 1% amounts to about two and one-third million adults if my figures are correct. That leaves roughly 228 and one-half million adults for the 99% of the rest of us adults, obviously an overwhelming majority. It’s just as obviously underwhelming in wealth and, more importantly, power. The “1% vs 99%” can’t begin to convey the real imbalance in power.

So a slogan closer to reality would be “corpocracy vs the rest of us,” and the 99 percenters unorganized and unguided as we are will never be able short of a bloody revolution (that should absolutely be avoided) to unseat the 1 percenters.

Another slogan closer to reality would be “have’s vs have nots.” You probably know that, too. If we define the “have nots” as Americans living below the poverty line, then they are the 15 percenters. That figure would rise somewhat if we used living wage as a bottom line. In any case, whether 15 percent or some figure a bit larger, the “haves” greatly outnumber the “have-nots.”

The next slogan I’ll mention closer to reality is “exploiters vs exploited.” Nearly half a century ago I did a doctoral dissertation on the matter of exploitation. But a PhD isn’t required obviously to know that exploitation means taking advantage of people and situations in anticipation of personal gain and at the expense of the people and situations exploited.

Exploitation, needless to say, is very unethical behavior. It breeches most if not all the universal ethical values such as those of honesty, keeping promises, caring for and respecting others. But also needless to say, the corpocracy’s exploitation plunges far below the bottom line of ethical behavior by causing through unregulated actions and products and endless and unnecessary wars (necessary only for expanding the self interests of the corpocracy) an inferno of human misery and death everywhere.

If we take into account that the corpocracy’s exploitation spans the globe, then the imbalance becomes almost unfathomable, and we have another slogan closer to reality, “billions vs a few millions.” When thousands of protestors hit the streets anywhere on the globe they are essentially protesting a global corpocracy led by American multinational corporations and their compliant government partner.

I would guess that all of the “have-nots” are among the most exploited. What about the “haves” (of which I’m definitely a member)? Are we sometimes exploiters as well as targets of exploitation? We can take for granted that genuine members of the corpocracy (e.g, powerful corporate interests and their government pawns) are exploiters day in and day out, but what about the rest of us “haves” outside of the corpocracy? What about you and me? These questions lead to some soul searching do they not? I give you three personal examples after having searched my own soul.

One, I detested the Vietnam War, but other than to close friends I did not speak out about say, the exploitation of draftees, because I was a government employee. Two, I waited until I retired from government service to write the Devil’s Marriage, a book about the corpocracy’s massive exploitation of people and situations. Three, because they matched the ones replaced, I recently bought some major appliances from a corporation that I knew well beforehand is a recidivist scofflaw and a master exploiter (e.g., in outsourcing jobs and not paying income taxes).

In these three examples I behaved as an ally of the corpocracy, the citadel of exploiters and their exploitation. To paraphrase Pogo, I have met the enemy and it’s sometimes me, hardly though on the scale of an ally like the US Chamber of Commerce. I am certain that most of us “halves” outside the corpocracy are far more often being exploited by it than in exploiting it. It takes some real cunning for the powerless to exploit the powerful

So, in closing, where does the foregoing leave us? One, the corpocracy is much mightier and invincible than throwing around the epithet of the 1% could ever suggest. Two, to end the corpocracy the “have-nots” must be aided by a goodly number of “haves” outside the corpocracy. And finally, three, the corpocracy pervades every sphere of life, and so we may willingly or not, let it compromise us in small to larger ways occasionally but that need not incapacitate us from launching what I call “two-fisted democracy power” (see www.uschamberofdemocracy.com) as a peaceful and legal way to achieve major political, legislative, judicial and economic reforms and in so doing to rid America of her corpocracy and fulfill what the framers of the Constitution promised in its preamble, to promote the general welfare.

Gary Brumback, PhD is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. He is an author of several books, including The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch.
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