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Dollars & Sense: The Top 1%

Is this a true characterization of the income inequality in America?

How many have heard the quote, “Money is the root all evil…”? For those who have not, it is an often misquote of the Bible verse that says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil…” (1 Tim. 6:10). Big difference, right? It actually fits in well with today’s discussion on the top 1% group in America.

Do we still buy into the American Dream in 2018?

Growing up, I am certain that we have heard about the American Dream, which is supposed to allow for the three unalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To many, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” begins and ends with the notion of attaining a certain level of socio-economic status and the privileges that come along with it. However, in order to make the ascension from the lower 99% to the elite group of the top 1%, there would have to be many lifestyle changes resulting from changes to many of the ways we think about money.

Today, Bloomberg published an interesting article entitled, “To Get Into the 1%, You Need Adjusted Gross Income of $480,930.” In the article, Joe Mysak provides a brief synopsis of how the price of admission into this elite group has changed over the past few years. For example, in 2018, a person would need to have an adjusted gross income of approximately $480,930 before any deductions to become a part of the top 1% group. This is an increase from the $350,000 it would have taken back in 2009.

2016 estimates of the minimum adjusted gross income (AGI) for the top 1% in every U.S. state.

Also, as of 2015, only 1.4 million people out of 320.9 million people in the United States were even qualified for this exclusive group. Even worse, only an estimated 20% of American households reached the “$100,000” mark during this period as well. In today’s economy, this $100,000 mark is nothing to be excited about. Why? Because there are obvious factors which have a profound effect on the quality of life this salary would provide. These factors include: 1) geography, 2) inflation, 3) stagnated wage growth, 4) size of family, and 5) lifestyle.

All of this is important because our personal interpretations of the American Dream are sometimes a distortion of the truth. We often allow our drive to earn more income (and there is nothing wrong with this) to determine how we approach everything in life. Eventually, this “drive” will mar our perspective of what constitutes real wealth and what defines true value. This is not to say that we should not aspire to increase our financial position because “…money answereth all things...” (Eccl. 10:19). However, it does mean that we have to keep everything in its proper place. The overzealous and passionate pursuit of becoming financially wealthy can often bring with it a disruption in the balance of other areas in our lives.

In the final analysis, becoming a member of the 1% elite group is great feat, but it can possibly come with a great price. It definitely comes with a lot of responsibility. Furthermore, it requires us to become better stewards of what we have currently. If we do not exercise wisdom in the daily oversight of our financial activities, we also run the risk of losing big in the long run.

Sean Mungin, author of “The Thorn In The Flesh”

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2 Comments on Dollars & Sense: The Top 1%

  1. Necessary piece💫e

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