How to Crack the Top 1 Percent

#OccupyWallStreet marches on. The clashes between protesters and police are getting more serious. And I’m still sitting here trying to figure out what the end goal in all of it is.

But regardless of the end goal, we can talk about some of the other interesting facts and ideas that have come out of this madness. First, according to a CNN Money report, it takes a yearly income of $343,927 to crack the top 1% in the United States these days. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify. But if you have your eye on that income level, the report also suggests what life path you might take.

Those people who work in finance make up 14% of the list. While executives across other industries make up 31%. Medical professionals make up 15%, and lawyers make up 8% of the list.

It seems that executives are making more and more, while the people in the companies that they manage are not seeing the same increases. In my mind, that’s part of a larger issue that may be helping to build the income inequality that this group of protesters is so passionate about.

Executives at the top of a large corporation have a lot of influence over what goes on within the company. At the same time, they are viewed by the media (and consumers in general) as the personified version of a company. For both reasons, investors and board members place a lot of emphasis on the performance of their executives, and the compensation ensues.

It is then on the executives themselves to share the wealth, and that’s where greed comes in.

CEOs, and others at the top, are paid to raise the stock price. Increasing the stock price means increasing revenue and profitability. And increasing profitability in troubling economic times means cutting jobs, cutting wages, and cutting any other costs across the board.

What’s good for the stock price is often bad for the economy in general. And we incentivize this behavior at the expense of the general public.