In Defense of the 1%

They’re just like us, but they throw better weddings.


I was leafing through the October 31 Time magazine yesterday when an essay by Joel Stein caught my attention: “Who Speaks for the 1%?”

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Illustration by the author.

Actually, the first item to catch my attention was the page’s title, The Awesome Column. The haughtiness of the page title seems to reflect the hubris of certain politicians and talk show commentators. I’m not a subscriber to the mag but believe based on 40 seconds of Google research that The Awesome Column used to be a staple of Time and has re-appeared. I draw that conclusion based on a 2006 question at Yahoo, What happened to Time Magazine’s awesome column? — Yahoo! Answers

After reading several additional sidetracks I’ve concluded that Joel Stein enjoys tweaking noses and being contrarian. So naturally he saddles up and leads us into the current fray called Occupy Wall Street. He’s a good writer. Here’s the opening…

I don’t like the top 1% of anything. Intelligence? Boring! Fun? Exhausting! Thoughtfulness? Annoying! Hairiness? Too hairy!

So I get why the Occupy Wall Street protesters gained momentum with their slogan WE ARE THE 99%. Everyone loves the 99%. You can have a beer with the 99%. You can eat with your hands in front of the 99%. You can talk about TV shows with the 99% without them telling you that while they don’t think there’s anything wrong with TV, if they had one, they would watch it literally all the time, so it’s better to just not keep one…

Stein goes on to say that for the most part the top 1% are interesting, generous and charming. These are the folk who started Time magazine, founded Stanford where Stein went to college, and have built the art museums that the public enjoys. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was started by a one per center, as have many other such endeavors.

If there is a pecking order of people to despise in this world, it would probably be the 1% of the 1%-ers who are jerks that embarrass the rest of the 1%-ers.

To read more, pick up a Time magazine at your local B&N ($5.99) or head over to the online home of this awesome column.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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