Chris Piascik cartoon: Millionaires in US Congress

201110210915

A graph by the wonderful illustrator Chris Piascik.

48

    1. Myth #9. They’re In The Wrong Place.

      I love to hear conservatives complaining that the protesters should be in Washington instead of Wall Street, as if the conservatives were really concerned about the most effective way for the demonstrators to make their case.

      This location-based argument suggests a limiting “either/or” mentality that you can’t be in both places, and also assumes that there’s no reason to be on Wall Street at all.

      As Herman Cain said recently, “Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.

      But there’s a good reason why Wall Street serves as an ideal venue for the demonstration. Unlike politicians in Washington, who have to answer to voters every few years, corporate executives on Wall Street don’t have to answer to the public, even though their actions have a huge impact on all of us. It seems to me, the protesters picked a reasonable venue to launch their movement. In fact, judging by the row of satellite trucks parked outside the protest, I’d say Wall Street was exactly the right place to draw attention to their cause.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-boykin/occupy-wall-street-media_b_1019707.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

    2. if you promise to march on DC to change legislation, i”ll be right next to you.  If you just want to bitch about the “liberals” then i’ll go back to fighting the corporations. 

      liberals and conservatives are both full of it. I’m all for wiping the whole of congress clear and enacting laws against political BS AND corporate BS.

      If you’re interested, lets get this started.

        1. i’m aware, my point is that they should GO THERE if they think that is where the action should be, instead of telling others to go there for them.

  1. What is this based on?

    Wiki says there were 10,541,000 millionaire households in the US as of May 2011. The census website says there are 112,611,029 households 2005-2009. That’s 9.36%.

    1. If you’re going by households, you’d have to use multiply million by x, where x is the average household population

    1. the 1% that is talked about are not millionaires, they are the so called “ultra rich” or something equally stupid. the 1% is usually discussed as: the top 1% pay about 40% of the US income taxes and the top 5% pay about 60%.

  2. I know it won’t fit with the “1%” theme but the chart will be almost as striking and harder to dismiss as populist propaganda if the numbers are changed to be more accurate, or at least cites a source. I’ve seen estimates ranging from 3%-5% of American households as millionaires. Or are we dividing that by the average number of people per household?

    1. I guess not a lot of fact checking goes into the Wall Street Journal either, since it says the same thing about the percentage of millionaires in the US. 

      You should give them a call and set them straight.

  3. The Deloitte whitepaper cited as a source by Wikipedia states that the accepted economic metric for the subject excludes the value of the primary residence, but that they chose to include it for he purposes of comparison among countries for whom the appropriate more detailed investable income stats are unavailable.

    Also, and I may be wrong about this, I believe Senate seats are held by individuals and not “households.”

    Now that I think about it, Senate seats, like seats on investment bank boards, may be becoming hereditary, so perhaps they are occupied households after all.

    As a side note, I have a cousin in Congress who frequently states in her bio that she was raised on a farm.  Yeah, the only crop I know of produced on that farm were formula-1 cars the family raced in the Indy-500.

  4. Since congress is made up of individuals and not households, thats is what the comparison should be.

    According to the WSJ there are 3.1 million individual millionaires in the US 
    http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/06/22/u-s-has-record-number-of-millionaires/

    According to the US census there are 312,466,371 individuals in the US. 
    http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/06/22/u-s-has-record-number-of-millionaires/

    Do the math and that comes out to 1 percent.

    According to CBS nearly half the individuals in congress are millionaires
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20023147-503544.html

    Seems like a legit cartoon to me.

      1. Well, as I understand it, a lot of people who are millionaires from winning the lottery don’t actually stay millionaires for very long.  There’s something to be said for putting one’s trust in those successful enough to become millionaires and who can hold on to their money for long enough to be successful in politics.  I guess?

    1. Making money is not the only kind of success.  Plus, there’s something about having representatives who are, you know, representative of their constituents.

    2. I’d like to know how much of what congress passes as law is really written by members of congress and not just lobbyists handing it off to them. 

  5. I see lots of debate about whether it’s 1% or 5%, but not much debate about why it matters. Not that I think it doesn’t, but I’m tired of internauts’ terrible habit of throwing out what they believe to be striking statistics without bothering to include any thoughtful commentary about why I should care.

  6. This reminds me of the “personal trainer gains weight” thread. Much like very healthy people, it’s apparently totally acceptable to make wild, unfounded assumptions about “millionaires.”

  7. It turns out that people in a extremely high-profile, prestigious job have more money than average?

    Shocking.

    1. It turns out that getting elected to those “prestigious jobs” requires rich candidates, or candidates with rich backers that they in turn have to pay back once it comes time to make policy.

      Pay to play.

      1. Before campaign financing laws limited contributions to political campaigns it was easier for folks not rich to be elected to Congress.  Nowadays you need the backing of a wealthy PAC if you can’t fund the start of a campaign yourself–much harder to get than the backing of a single individual. 

    2. It turns out that people in a extremely high-profile, prestigious job have more money than average?

      Shocking.

      Do we regard serving in Congress as just a job now?

  8. That comment from Cain is pretty nasty. So he’s “self-made”, but that has made him think that everyone who isn’t successful is lazy? Nice attitude to have for a leader.

    1. That comment from Cain is pretty nasty. So he’s “self-made”, but that has made him think that everyone who isn’t successful is lazy? Nice attitude to have for a leader.

      Right, Cain made money selling unhealthy food to people.  Something people with more ethics simply won’t do that no matter how much money they’d get out of the deal.  Because they have ethics.

      He’ll never understand it’s not a “lazy” thing… it’s more often than not, an “ethics” thing.  It’s hard being truly ethical, truly beneficial to society at large and making a good living at the same time.  I’m still looking for the “ethical” megalomaniac who craves money like life-blood.  Haven’t seen ’em.

      Like many other “successful” corporatists, if Cain had to be ethical, he’d be in the poor house right now.  I’m sure the unethical aristocrats will hate me for saying this and so will their serfs saying the typical drivel of, “You’re just jealous” – but, the truth can be a hard thing to cope with, I suppose.  I’m not jealous because when I look in the mirror every day, I don’t hate what I see.

      The fact is, on a level, ethical playing field… you conservative corporatists could never compete with us.  You’re too weak minded and when you open your mouths it becomes more and more apparent this is the case.  Herman Cain is just another weak minded, unethical corporatist blowhard.  The unwitting serfs to aristocracy will cheer him on blindly while the rest of us will outsmart and destroy him thank goodness.  Game on.

      1. Just so I’m clear, are you claiming that it is unethical (or, I suppose, less ethical) to sell pizza? That’s what you first paragraph appears to say (certain people — who have ethics — would refuse to do what Cain did, which is to sell pizza; therefore, one who sells pizza must not have ethics).

        If that’s the case, I have a few questions:
        Is everyone who sells pizza unethical? Or only if they are the head of a large pizza-selling corporation? Is the twenty-two year old up the road from me who runs a pizza place unethical because he sells a product that is unhealthy?

        If we forced people to be ethical by your definition (“if Cain had to be ethical”), would that mean that I couldn’t buy a pizza because no one would be allowed to sell it?

        nb: I know that pizza isn’t good for me. I don’t eat it often, but when I want it, it’s nice to be able to have someone sell it to me.

        1. Is everyone who sells pizza unethical?

          Cain made his initial fortunes off pushing junk food from Burger King… and then went on to other junk food (pizza filled with processed foods) later.  Then, of course, he also was the CEO of the National Restaurant Association, where he could lobby D.C. on how great junk food is for the American public.

          You know, putting profits and personal fortune ahead of the health of the American public similar to his Koch brother pals?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Cain#Executive_career

          I know that pizza isn’t good for me. I don’t eat it often, but when I want it, it’s nice to be able to have someone sell it to me.

          Please quote me where I said I believe there should be a ban on pizza?  Or, just admit you were being obtuse there, thanks.

          Avoid my actual points about ethics all you want to.  But, while you might be very proud of yourself if you made your fortunes pushing poison on children and contributing to the nation’s costly epidemic of obesity and diabetes….  there’s plenty of us out here that couldn’t do such a thing because of our character and ethics (amazing, right?).

          I don’t look up to junk food barons and I don’t look up to drug lords, either…  and, I don’t think either products should be illegal (drugs decriminalized, at least).

          Actually, if kids can’t drink alcohol in the USA until they are 18 or 21, then maybe we should think about at least banning junk food from schools. If their parents want to send them to school with poison, then so be it. But, I’m tired of my tax dollars paying to poison our nation’s children with shit food.

          Oh man… I’m so far off topic at this point it’s rediculous… I’ll just stop here…

  9. This infograph is pretty clear and hopefully a good education to the apathetic with whom it can be shared.  How about replacing the Congress by ending corporate campaign contributions; before that can be accomplished via amendment, http://occupygovernment.org is getting a good momentum going right now, empowering the people impassioned by the OWS movement and giving them something active to do about it.

    1. Well technically we don’t have a democracy.  We have a Republic that is governed by the Rule of Law to protect individuals from tyrants (both dictators and emotional mobs). 

      You could probably say a Democratic Republic I guess. 

  10. I would really like to see a histogram of the net worths of incoming Congresspeople, and then of incumbents at two year increments.

  11. Before campaign financing laws limited contributions to political campaigns it was easier for folks not rich to be elected to Congress.  Nowadays you need the backing of a wealthy PAC if you can’t fund the start of a campaign yourself…

    Oh yes, for the good old days when you just needed a rich benefactor instead of some measure of popular support. I’m sure that didn’t create any kind of conflict of interest for the guy who got bankrolled, either.

      1. I’m OK with that. I just think it’s silly to imply things were fairer when one rich guy could spend unlimited funds on campaign ads to support his puppet of choice.

  12. Once the economy really starts to collapse and the dollar becomes next to worthless, we’ll all be millionaires. Unfortunately groceries will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Comments are closed.