The 9.9 percent is the new American aristocracy

The 9.9 percent is the new American aristocracy
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[Ed. – Aside from tone (which you can’t get away from in the article), there’s the poignant failure to understand that the central proposition in the first sentence excerpted below isn’t true of the 0.1 percent.  It’s only true, in some ways, of the 9.9 percent.  The meritocratic professional class performs useful services, to be sure, but the 0.1 percent actually expands the total wealth of the entire society.  It doesn’t take any part of a preexisting “pie” from the 99 percent.  It creates new wealth — and that’s why it’s the 0.1 percent, and why there will always be a 0.1 percent that’s the 0.1 percent.]

Every piece of the pie picked up by the 0.1 percent, in relative terms, had to come from the people below. But not everyone in the 99.9 percent gave up a slice. Only those in the bottom 90 percent did. At their peak, in the mid-1980s, people in this group held 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Three decades later that had fallen 12 points—exactly as much as the wealth of the 0.1 percent rose.

In between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent is a group that has been doing just fine. It has held on to its share of a growing pie decade after decade. And as a group, it owns substantially more wealth than do the other two combined. In the tale of three classes (see Figure 1), it is represented by the gold line floating high and steady while the other two duke it out. You’ll find the new aristocracy there. We are the 9.9 percent.

So what kind of characters are we, the 9.9 percent? We are mostly not like those flamboyant political manipulators from the 0.1 percent. We’re a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner.

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