The Contrarian: Math Rocks

—by , January 3, 2012

In 2012, the American protesters’ rally cry might have a bit of a different ring than it did in its incendiary first year. “We are the 94%” is unlikely to be a PR firebrand, but for the sake of respecting the online research capabilities of our Zuccotti Park brethren, let’s assume the significance of a percentage change that is likely to throw a wrench in OWS’ 2012 silk screen production in Williamsburg.

According to the Independent Budget Office of New York, as reported by the New York Times, 51 percent of the state’s income compensation is represented by the top 6 percent of tax-filers. While by all means that is a meaty piece of the pie, the pariah that is “the 1 percent” account for only (“only” might be pushing description, but yeah…) 33.8 percent of total compensation, “kindly leaving two-thirds for the rest of us.”

Make note that these numbers are unique to New York, and may or may not translate well to represent wealth disparity across the country. The concentration of wealth in New York due to the financial services industry (aka Wall Street, the main character in that Shia LaBeof movie that wasn’t Transformers) creates such a difference in wealth that these numbers could be, and have been, exploited to infuriate an entire country. On that logic, we could hate New York, the movement’s default birthplace, and force them to cede from the Union so we can make war or whatever, but moving on…

Two-thirds! ZOMG we should be thanking our lucky stars and kissing the feet of the Establishment! I denounce my quickness to jump on the bandwagon of the weary, tired and poor. I am so much richer than I thought!

Yeah, yeah. This update of information does little, if anything at all, to blur the very clear picture of socio-economic disparity between the classes brought to great national, now international, attention by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. However, this percentage change does illustrate a proportion of distribution less severe. In fact, the numbers make things look much plainer, and much worse, than they had. And by worse I mean worse for everyone.

Let’s talk math for a minute:

One-third of a group or set is not a simple majority, but might be a form of majority called a plurality, which is the largest subset within the group or set and might be less than half of the entirely of the group or set in question. One does not split into thirds evenly, ever, so thirds are a good say to split votes to generate a clear outcome of majority, minority and the shades of each.

Saved no more heat by this update of percentages, with a whopping 33.8 percent of the pie, the top 1 percent are indeed the greedy misers they have been made out to be because it does a majority of the wealth by plurality.

However, keep that in mind while you read the numbers that “make things worse for everyone.” The 6 percent, the “new class enemy,” do deserve a bit more consideration, despite the percentage increase seeming like an affect of minutia. They hold 51 percent of the wealth. That is one more perfect than fifty, as in “50/50.”

51 percent. That is what they call a simple majority, which is, without interpretation, more than half of the units in a group or subset. More than half.

For all you hippie smart-asses who bitch about the inefficiency of the U.S. electoral system, this term must hold special meaning to your Reddit-fueled sense of values. Yes, the people elected to lead this country are not placed there by a simple more than half vote, which is a disgrace because if you were elected, we’d be all living on one collective drive called “Easy Street,” and everyone’s voice would be heard, and so on and so forth.

But really, you’re mad because you don’t have the political (politics being the ability to influence using money or your stunning good looks and/or eccentric charms) clout to give this poor assemblage of a nation what you think it needs to spare Comedy Central the material that makes a mockery of the voter, like those who do, are brought to power using an odious system by which a leader is singled out above the rest because we don’t know how to do math good.

I’m not a mathematician. Give a shit about the 1 percent by all means, because one is a clean, accessible number to attack.

But less than 10 percent, less than one tenth of the entirety of total income compensation, holds the true, the real, majority of the wealth in New York, where the strings and nods that drive this country are pulled to decide what and how much goes where.

That is more reason to be pissed off than the other numbers we have had had up until this point.

Time to come up with a better slogan.


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