Are you the 99% or of the 1%?

America is indeed becoming a more divided society. This test - called how thick is your bubble will help figure out how isolated you are from the people who work in the U.S. It may surprise some people. My score indicated that I don’t have much of a bubble at all.

But this is not so much because of my current circumstances but rather because of my background. I was born into a working class family and have maintained some of those characteristics despite my education and lifestyle. My kids would not score as high and that is the rub.

It is hard to figure out what to do about it. The isolation is economic but not exclusively. As my case shows, you can make good money but still have thick connections with "the people" and I suppose the opposite case is possible too. You can be poor and out of touch too.

Anyway, it is an interesting test. We all think we know our society better than we do. There were two times when I really knew that there were whole parts of "my" society about which I knew nothing: when millions of people mourned the deaths of Dale Earnhardt and of Selena, a NASCAR racer and a popular singer, respectively. Both were loved by millions of people I thought knew nothing about. The funny part of that is that after that I learned that many of the people I knew were NASCAR fans. We just didn't share that interest. I guess that is why I always have to watch those reruns of "Frazier" by myself.

But I have been thinking about that whole 99/1 thing. I like to be connected to my society and I am glad that I know people of various backgrounds. But I would like to make it into the top 1%, if I could, in lots of things. I think it would be great to be in the top 1% in health. I try hard to be in the top 1% in achievements, but it is a hard standard. And if I ever achieved a position in the top 1% in wealth, I would be pleased and proud, since I would have earned it. The mere acquisition of money is neither good nor bad. It depends on how you live your life. I have known good rich people and good poor people, but I have never met a good person, rich or poor, who was not true to his/her values. This should be the divide and we should all try to be the best that we can.

How many of you would prefer to aim lower?

Posted by Christine & John at March 13, 2012 8:11 PM
Comments
Comment #338107

Took the test NO BUBBLE, would like to be in the top 1%.

Posted by: KAP at March 13, 2012 9:59 PM
Comment #338116

KAP

It is interesting. I am a “man of the people” too, but as I wrote it is based on my earlier experience and on my current forestry “hobby”.

My kids are not so connected. My father was a HS dropout and a factory worker. Their father was neither. In some ways, it is a price of success. My father managed to give his kids a better life than he had and so ensured that his grandchildren would have less experience with the harder life he experiences.

Posted by: C&J at March 13, 2012 10:44 PM
Comment #338117

Took the test. Bubble so thick, don’t even know I am in one. Heh. And yes, I’d like to be in the 1% too. I’m not there yet, but I think I will be…

Posted by: phx8 at March 13, 2012 10:46 PM
Comment #338119

My father to was a HS dropout and factory worker and tryed tio give me a better life but was killed in an industrial accident when I was 21. I have tryed to give my daughter a better life but after 35 years she finally settled down with a guy that is taking over where I left off. Yes I would love to be in that 1% but at my age I don’t think I will make it. I do though have a grand daughter who is doing fantastic in school and has high expectations for her life, she plans on going into the medical fiel. Maybe she will be the one in the family who does make it to the 1%.

Posted by: KAP at March 13, 2012 11:10 PM
Comment #338120

Phx8

To make the top 1%, a household must have AGI of $343,927 or more. The top 1 percent contributes about 37% of the taxes.

Of course it depends on where you live. A guy living in New York making $343,927 has the buying power of a guy making only $140,514.52 in Oklahoma or Kansas.

With this calculator, perhaps many of us can achieve the 1% goal in the heartland http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx

The funny thing about wealth is that it is all relative. Throughout my working life, I have always thought that people who earned twice as much as I did were rich and people who earned half as much as I did were poor. As my income grew, so did my assessments.

It also depends on where you live.

Posted by: C&J at March 13, 2012 11:29 PM
Comment #338121

I scored in the 0-4 category, so I guess I’m in the bubble. However, this doesn’t surprise me. I was not brought up the way most Americans are; I have privileges that most people do not get to enjoy. Both of my parents have Master Degrees and I grew up in an affluent suburb of Boston.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 13, 2012 11:49 PM
Comment #338122

Well I reckon I don’t have a bubble [16-18]. But then I’ve worked all my life just like my daddy did.

Posted by: fsarkie at March 14, 2012 12:10 AM
Comment #338157

Good heavens, if the questions I just answered were meant to determine my engagement with modern American culture…

I mean, a great number of those questions seem to be aimed at declaring one particular kind of American as the American to be engaged with, if you want to be considered engaged with mainstream America. But the questions are so culturally biased, and the rationale behind the scoring so cryptic as to render it an exercise in self-fulfilling prophecy.

The truth is, mainstream America is changing from what it used to be. Some will see that as a decline, and in certain terms it might be thought of that way. But in functional terms, you were never going to keep things the same, not with the policies of the conservatives on the table, not with free-market institutions like the AEI helping to push manufacturing jobs out the door, nor with the demographic changes and the relaxation of racial attitudes.

There’s another thing I would say: a lot of conservative culture has deliberately separated itself from the rest of the culture, deeming it unworthy, scary, whatever. They could have considerably more influence, but they insist on people following all their ideological inclinations, rather than just being comfortable with folks taking and leaving what they will.

Republicans have alienated themselves from most people. This quiz tries to allege that I’m out of touch with the majority of people, but many of my positions are actually majority positions nowadays.

The broad outlines of his thesis might be true, but the quiz indicates that he’s accepted too much of conservative culture as the norm, and that’s not really the case. Norms have shifted, and trying to stand athwart history and yelling stop, Conservatives have just been left behind.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 14, 2012 7:22 AM
Comment #338159

C&J,

I am a high school dropout. I took the test and fell right in the middle (9-12).
However, I wonder of the importance of knowing the name of a NASCAR star who probably falls into the definition of rich, or of having an evangelical Christian for a friend (though I wonder if an imaginary evangelical Christian friend counts).

Perhaps I am just being cynical, but I fail to see the wisdom of paying a vast amount of money to sit in the sun for hours on end in a cathedral of concrete, drinking beer, watching rich white men hurtling madly around a circular track, waiting for someone to make a mistake and possibly die in a crash, so that we can all comment about what a true American icon he was.

Maybe I just don’t understand what it means to be a true American.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2012 8:47 AM
Comment #338162

I scored 5-8. I grew up in a rural southern area in poverty for the most part and my ties to that life increased my score a little.

I went to college on grants and loans and made decent grades. I moved to get a high paying tech job in San Francisco and paid off my loans to become debt free since then. During that time in the city I lived in one of the poorest parts of San Francisco where I had to wade through homeless people and hookers on my way to and from work.

Since that time my economic trajectory has been steady up. My wife and I both earn a very comfortable living in professional fields and we don’t have as many ties to working class Americans and rednecks as we both used to.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at March 14, 2012 9:11 AM
Comment #338165

No questions about on line activities? Nothing about baseball yet NASCAR and hunting and fishing questions? Is there a job where some “part of the body is not sore by the end of the day”? My but gets sore sitting all day for crying out loud.

I scored 13 to 16 yet with these questions Mitt is probably in the same range, after all he knows people that own NASCAR teams and owns at last a few pick up trucks, which is what this is all about isn’t it?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 14, 2012 10:05 AM
Comment #338166

The “test” is tragically flawed: I was in the military, drive a pickup, am a charter fishing captain, hunt, work construction, and am in the 4th of July parade every year. But because I don’t have a close evangelical friend & know who the NASCAR dude is, I was consigned to the bubble.


IMHO, this is as good as worthless for discerning cultural “status”.

Posted by: steve miller at March 14, 2012 10:51 AM
Comment #338172

Rocky,

Come see me this May and I’ll take you Darlington; you’ll either get it or you won’t. The race part of the weekend is just an excuse.

Do you like Bud, Miller, or Lite?

Posted by: George at March 14, 2012 2:24 PM
Comment #338180


I scored 4 out of 20.

Steve M., If you were in the military, worked construction, owned a pickup, go hunting, etc. you are not part of the mainstream American culture.

Watching TV and playing video games are now more mainstream than any of the above.

Oprah rather than evangelicalism is main stream.

American culture is mostly centered around urban/suburban rather than small town/country life.

And your right, nothing about baseball, hot dogs, or apple pie, not even a bow tie on Jimmy Johnson.

Posted by: jlw at March 14, 2012 6:02 PM
Comment #338181

When I was growing up, most kids who went to college also went to work at crappy jobs. Today, the poorer kids still go to work at crappy jobs, but the richer ones work as interns or in offices. We also used to be just one generation away from the farm or the factory.

Stephen

It is interesting that you consider things like hard work, serving in the military & participating in patriotic parades as conservative traits. It is the white working class culture that is being tested. I think the first couple of questions probably threw you. You know, the ones about actual physical work or work in a factory and doing work that left your body aching. Actually, I no longer belong to that culture either, but I recall times when I did.

Stephen

I well understand that the mainstream is moving away from workers who actually make things. That is the thesis of the book mentioned in the quiz.

Rocky

I don’t think they are talking about “true” Americans. The idea of the book and the quiz is that we – all of us – are increasingly isolated from each other. There really is no mainstream.

Re high school dropout - it is what you may have done many years ago, but it no longer describes you now. This is not about only education. There are also lifestyle choices.

Posted by: C&J at March 14, 2012 6:32 PM
Comment #338183

jlw

Oprah is mentioned on the test.

It is NOT a test of whether or not you are mainstream. It is a test of isolation from people who work in jobs that make things. You are right that this world is shrinking. But it is not being replaces by any ONE other alternative. We are becoming more isolated in our communities.

I scored in “no bubble” on this test, but I could also score in “no bubble” if I were answering questions about academic, business and many other communities. My hobby is to get to know varieties of communities. I am always surprised.

Yesterday I was talking to some Obama supporters. They were saying that “people like us” need to stand up to those lying Republicans. I took it as a learning opportunity. They want most of the same things my friends on the right want. Amazingly, both groups think the other is working to prevent the accomplishment of often very similar goals.

I suggest that all of us seek out the other side and rather than get angry, sincerely try to defend their side. It is actually not hard at all to find common ground if you are trying to find solutions.

The problem with politics is that it demands that we choose. That is why we should remove as much as possible from politics.

Posted by: C&J at March 14, 2012 6:47 PM
Comment #338184

C&J-
Pardon me, but I don’t consider hard work, serving in the military, or participating in patriotic parades particularly conservative. My Grandfather, who recently passed away, was a decorated veteran of Normandy, Sicily, and North Africa, who made Captain in the 82nd Airborne in three year in its signal corps, and who went on after that to eventually become an executive at the company that eventually became Exxon. My father and mother both worked for much of their live.

That’s part of my big problem with these stereotypes Republicans peddle about us. For the most part, we value the same things as conservatives, but have some political disagreements.

That said, I was laughing out loud at some of the questions, because they all seemed to be, in aggregate, questions you could mainly succeed in answering the right way if you were a Southern Baptist evangelical who never went to college and worked in a factory.

Those are real Americans, mind you, and ought to be respected as such, but they’re not that terribly common, to be blunt. So there’s a real question of how you can talk about somebody being in touch with the great majority of Americans when the great majority of Americans are not Southern Baptist, aren’t NASCAR fans, never went into the military, etc.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that America is more defined by it’s diversity, than by some essential WASP or Scots-Irish culture. And we need to realize that this isn’t a bad way to go about things. Rather than be stuck in old habits and old traditions, Americans can constantly experiment within their freedoms to take the country in new directions. Some forget about these experiments, and pretend like there’s some essential culture that has to be protected, but in reality, the culture of America is built on syncretism and synthesis, with people taking and leaving what they like, and mostly keeping out of each other’s business in the process.

The big divide is between those who write policy with the profits of big corporations in mind, and the rest of the country, who have decided that they’re not going to get a pony if they keep digging in the manure. The Republicans need something more than the doom and gloom about America’s decline. They need a vision, and unfortunately the Democrats have gotten there first on that count.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 14, 2012 6:49 PM
Comment #338186

Stephen

I didn’t think you did, which is why it is surprising that you identify a measurement that very strongly includes such things as “conservative”.

I was not peddling the stereotype. You did that. You are the one who identified the traits on that test as conservative. About 1/3 of the test had questions related to hard work, patriotism and serving in the military. Another third had to do with buying inexpensive “common” products. Only one question, re knowing an evangelical person, could even be considered a “conservative” trait and even there it is only a correlation.

“The big divide is between those who write policy with the profits of big corporations in mind” you should not talk about Obama Administration officials that way. Few officials write laws with that in mind, but it is true that if you help build a prosperous and growing economy businesses will certainly benefit.

“For the most part, we value the same things as conservatives, but have some political disagreements.” I wrote just about the same thing in the post above. If you believe this, perhaps you should stop using terms like “your people” and playing that blame game you seem to so love.

Posted by: C&J at March 14, 2012 7:17 PM
Comment #338189

George,

“Come see me this May and I’ll take you Darlington…”

Actually I have been to Charlotte Motor Speedway, and no offence intended, IMHO if you’ve seen 10 laps of a NASCAR race, you’ve pretty much seen all of them.

When I was young I was interested in Grand Prix, and Can-Am series racing back in the days of Monza, and Sebring, and Riverside. Those days are long gone.

“Do you like Bud, Miller, or Lite?”

I am not much of a beer drinker, frankly I don’t drink much alcohol at all. My dad gave me some Oly when I was 10 and it was all I could do not to spit it out.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2012 9:02 PM
Comment #338193

C&J,
I don’t say that joining the military, working construction, fishing, hunting, and being in the 4th of July parade are *conservative*…… I say they are middle class. THAT is the true cultural mainstream of the country, and not Dem/Rep. For that reason the “test” is nonsense: it does not accurately reflect mainstream if it calls a thoroughly middle class person as being in the thickest bubble……..

Posted by: steve miller at March 14, 2012 10:10 PM
Comment #338195

Steve

It is meant to show the distance you might have from the working class that we used to consider the backbone of the U.S.

In the book related to the test, the author maps trends since the 1960s and shows how there is an increasing gulf among groups. This particular test seems to show some of the truth of how we have gotten separated.

An irony is that many liberals claim to speak for the “working class” with which they no longer have any real ties.

I remember that one of the definitions of a leftist-intellectual is that they love “all the people” but cannot think of any individual ones that they like. My life kind of straddles the rural working world and the urban intellectual community, so I see both sides. It is interesting to see that attitudes.

If I can share a story. When I bought my first piece of forest land, several of my colleagues warned me that “rednecks” would be unfriendly. I decided to be proactive. I went down and met my neighbors and asked their advice. The advice, BTW, was usually really good. I respected the hunt clubs and really got to enjoy talking with them. We did a few projects together, such as planting food plots. They now help me a lot and take care of my property when I am not around. They keep the population of undesirable animals in check. They are the nicest people in the world. But there was a cultural adaption on both sides. I think we should do this kind of thing more often.

Posted by: C&J at March 14, 2012 10:32 PM
Comment #338209


Well, I’ve been white working class all my life. I answered no to 5 questions:

3) No, haven’t seen the Transformers movie.

7) No, I don’t have a fridge full of PBR.

9) No, I haven’t eaten at TG Outback.

13) No, I haven’t worn a uniform for work other than blue jeans and work boots.

15) No, I haven’t watched Oprah.

My bubble is so thick I don’t know I’m in one.

C&J, I have built and made things all my life, water towers, buildings, computer parts, test equipment for manufacturing plants, jet engine parts and parts for satellites and a few other things.

I guess I didn’t realize that I was so isolated from my fellow workers.

“They want most of the same things my friends on the right want.”

Perhaps, but there is that lying Republican party that refuses to compromise and is continuously adding more derisive issues to politics.

And if it were true about your friends they would not be supporting voter suppression on behalf of the Republican party.

Fox poll, tea party favorable 35%, unfavorable 51%. About the same as the Republican candidates.

Fox poll, Republican Party favorable 35%, Democratic Party favorable 48%.

Let’s hope you and your friends on the right make the right choice this fall if they hope to see some of those same things they want come to fruition because it is obvious that the Republican Party has very little in the way of policy that the majority is interested in.

A vote for the Republican Party is a vote for the continuation of the Goldman Sachs business model: Never Treat A Customer Honestly, and the WalMart business model: The Lowest Wage With The Least Benefits.

Posted by: jlw at March 15, 2012 2:08 AM
Comment #338211

C&J,
If this test is supposed to tell whether you are working class, it has failed miserably. Being a working member of the working class, I *have* no distance from it.

I think the real aim is to find out whether the testee is cannon-fodder for the military/industrial/prison complex: too stupid to think for themselves; a vapid consumer of crap-like the transformer movie. Why would any adult go see a movie about children’s toys? Is “working class” code for ignorant?

I have been working hard all my life……I will continue to do so today, as I apply polyurethane to a kitchen floor I will sand. At the end of the day my back will be hurting.

Posted by: steve miller at March 15, 2012 8:08 AM
Comment #338213

C&J-
I’ve got a strange background, my ancestry coming both from up north and down south, with military connections on both sides from the grandparents, with ties to higher incomes while I lead my life in lower incomes. Fact of the matter is, I only answered no on Transformers because I simply haven’t gotten around to it. I know all to well what it is to be a day late and a dollar short, and I have no objection to working for a living. At the same, I’m college educated, and don’t necessarily hold the views most of my local peers might.

The questions seem to be testing whether I’m part of mainstream southern male culture, which seems to me to be an effort to use certain demographic factors to skew the results Republican. It’s not so much, though, that I consider those particular factors uniquely Republican, it’s just that when somebody seems to be trying to connect everything in a certain pattern, I don’t turn a blind eye to it, especially when I know that being part of the 99%, rather than being in the bubble, is not about fitting any particular set of political wedge issues.

It’s about understanding that folks with higher incomes will have different concerns, and a different outlook, and that today’s business class has been fed a particular quasi-libertarian viewpoint that resists efforts to constrain their behavior, even when it is clearly to the disadvantage of most other people. I say quasi, because they often have no problem with asking Congress to legislate things in their favor.

Long story short, I think the poll defines being in the bubble in a rather biased way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 15, 2012 8:47 AM
Comment #338223

Ok, I tested between 9-12. I guess that makes me in the middle. And being in the middle is exactly where I want to be. I would be miserable if I were in the 1%, because I would have very little in common with them, or if I was totally 99%, for that same reason.

I have joked about being a Demorublican, or robocrate, all of my life, so maybe the test wasn’t so far off!

It did seem like it would be rather easy to screw up the results, though…
which way is the 1% - low numbers or higher ones?

Personally I think that it’s a shame we have such a lopsided division in our society. No, I am NOT advocating communism, or socialism or any of the extreme ideologies, but it is rather sad to know that the majority of people are so far on one side or the other that they can’t agree on much of anything. Just look at the Republican race - they can’t even get solidly behind one person. Everyone seems to be out for their own special interests, and to heck with what’s better, or best for the country.

Unfortunately,the ME generation is alive and well in America.

Posted by: Highlandangel1 at March 15, 2012 3:59 PM
Comment #339549

George!

“Come see me this May and I’ll take you Darlington…”

Do you live anywhere near Darlington? I do…

Posted by: Highlandangel1 at March 25, 2012 3:39 PM
Comment #343113

How can anyone who is a DEMOCRAT think that the 99% are protesting anyone but Obama? The tax breaks for the wealthy hs HIS signature on it and it was Obama who bailed out the auto indusrty without requiring them to file for bankrupcy first. …hipocrits.

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