Making Sense of All Those Numbers

Posted: October 3, 2013
From: Rick Hicks, Teamsters Local #174 Secretary-Treasurer
Rick HicksWe’ve all heard a lot about the 1% and the 99%. But there are some other numbers you ought to be thinking about: the 5% versus the 11.3%

Just to refresh your memory: the 1% are the ultra-rich. There are conflicting definitions about what that means, but we’ll go with a Forbes 3/12/12 definition:

“The average annual income of the top 1 percent of the population is $717,000, compared to the average income of the rest of the population, which is around $51,000. The real disparity between the classes isn’t in income, however, but in net value: The 1 percent are worth about $8.4 million, or 70 times the worth of the lower classes.”

As union members, we have been trying to not only keep that $51,000 number up, but raise it where ever possible. In doing so, we have consistently been smacked down by anti-worker forces that want workers paid as little as possible. They love crowing about how only 11.3% of the U.S. population is now unionized and we are, thus, inconsequential. Such a tiny slice of the nation should have no impact on the national discussion, they declare.

So this headline from the October 2, 2013 website ‘Business Insider’ caught my eye:

How Less Than 5% Of The US Population Caused The Government To Shut Down
(http://www.businessinsider.com/the-government-shutdown-is-the-will-of-a-pathetic-43-of-the-population-2013-10)

The story goes on to explain that “only 13.8 million Americans actually voted for the suicide caucus” and concludes,

“That deep minority of Americans might be pretty happy that the government is shut down, but it’s just stunning that such few people — a group slightly larger than the population of Illinois — can hold that much power.”

MY conclusion is this: if 5% of the population can shut down the United States Government, then the 11.3% can step forward during this next election and put America back on course by voting for pro-worker candidates who support the middle-class and understand that paying working people a liveable wage pumps money into the economy.