web analytics

Americans love the rich and the top 1%

Yes, it is true. Americans love the top 1% of US households by income, wealth and other financial factors. They rarely complain about the income disparity of these rich people. Even politicians like Sanders or Warren more than likely love the rich. In fact, Americans do not just often love the top one percenters, but they also love other wealthy individuals who fall into the top 5% or the 10%. Do not listen to the politicians and all the “noise” out there that tell you differently….Americans really love the rich and wealthy and often want to give them even more money.

Now that I have your attention, let me give many examples that show why the statement on Americans loving the rich and not often caring about income disparity is absolutely true. How is that you may ask? Well think about it this way. All those celebrities, athletes, actresses and actors, singers and other “famous people” in the public eye, many of them are rich and wealthy. And most Americans love some or all of those people. Those people have so much wealth and/or income, it places many of them in the top one or five percent of households.

And while of course a “general” statement and I am making wide assumptions, but I think it is fair to say that most Americans love some or all of these people, and they usually do not question their extraordinary incomes or wealth. They do not say Alex Trebeck is a one percenter who should be paid less money. At least not in the same way that public opinion is against executives, entrepreneurs, business men and women and others.

Americans may say corporate CEOs make too much money. And maybe executives and CEO are overpaid. That is not the point here. What the point is the lack of critical thinking about this topic. In fact, there is a lack of critical thinking about many things in life (which is a future post!).

Now of course this entire post about Americans loving the 1% and rich is generalizing the issue, however it is supported. Lets look at some of the Qualitative and Empirical Data that support this. How many tens of thousands of Americans mourned the loss of a rich, one percent athlete like Kobe Bryant? Tens or hundreds of millions of people watch the Superbowl and other professional sports, and who complains about or questions the players income and wealth (even though they can be in the top 10, 5, or 1%). How many people rail against an actor or actress making tens of millions for a movie, or a musician making millions for concerts or singing.

Who complains about all of those top one, five, or ten per-centers who are not business people? Who says pay Mike Trout from the Angels less money. Or who says Taylor Swift needs a pay cut. Rarely anyone. Is some politician screaming that Tom Brady makes too much, or Beyoncé is overpaid? And I could go on and on.

It can often be the exact opposite, in that people want the rich to get richer. In fact, many Americans want to give these already rich “famous” people even more money...many fans may say pay that athlete or player even more to get them in their favorite teams uniform.

Examples of loving the rich

Many Americans may worship say a football player like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson or Tom Brady. People can love Jennifer Lawrence, even though she is a one percenter. Or they love the singer Post Malone. But they do not like that business person and often say that the successful businessman or woman is overpaid and is causing income disparity. Which of the rich, one percent people in the list below has more of an impact.

  • Jamie Dimon makes over $30 million per year and overseas a JP Morgan Chase, and company with 250,000+ employees. He is a one percenter.
  • Mark Zuckerberg has a net worth of ~$70 billion, but he is responsible for a company of over 37,000 employees. In fact, he in effect created over 36,000 jobs since 2006. He is a one percenter.
  • Tom Brady has an income of well over $15 million per year and has an estimated net worth of a couple hundred million. And yes, he gets paid that and he plays a game.
  • Bradley Cooper makes ~$15 million per movie. He acts and is directly responsible for probably an immaterial number of employees.
  • Shawn Mendez made an estimated 20 million plus…yes, he sings.
  • Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, is making ~10 million per year. He is responsible for 67,000+ employees, not to mention saving lives from innovate medicines and maybe pandemics such as the Corona virus.
  • Kobe Bryant has an estimated net worth of $500 million+.
  • Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is compensated over $40 million, and he is responsible for 148,000+ jobs.
  • Jeff Probst, who hosts survivor, is probably close to or in the one percent by wealth as he has been making $4 million plus for multiple years. He hosts a reality TV show.

I hope you did not pick some famous person such as Jeff Probst being more important than an executive, who is employing tens of thousands of workers, paying out hundreds of millions in compensation to salaries, etc.

Americans do not think about overpaid CEO and celebrities in the same way

Now the point here is not to say who is over or underpaid. It is not to say that an athlete, singer celebrity, etc. is over or under paid. Or not to say how much some athlete, actress or CEO or corporate executive should be paid. But rather it is to bring to your attention the huge inconsistency in how most Americans think about this issue around salaries, wealth, and income disparity. Or maybe they do not even think about the contradiction, which is probably more likely.

Why due millions mourn the loss of an athlete like Kobe, but the other people who tragically died in that crash are often an afterthought? Granted Bryant was great at his “job”, but other than that he is a human like all of us…imperfect, some good and bad qualities, flawed, etc. Other famous people that we do not know are mourned as well. But I digress.

Why do Americans love these celebrities who are rich and wealthy and often in the top 1%, but many Americans complain about corporations and executives making too much? They want to cut back on what they feel are corporate salaries, but not an athlete? As the fact is, many executives are responsible for multi-billion dollar companies and thousands of jobs. While granted some actors and singers and others may be “indirectly” responsible for some jobs (as a stadium after all needs to employee hot dog vendors or a singer has back up dancers or a studio) you can’t compare a CEO to others job creators like a celebrity.

Why do politicians, namely Democrats, rail against the financially successful? Even some Republicans talk about income disparity too. Shouldn’t the politicians stand up and talk about Beyonce or Ed Sheeran making too much money and “demonize” those famous people if they are going to complain about the wealth of some CEO or executive banker?

It is something to think about….and there are so many other examples in life where critical thinking is lacking but needed.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate and is the Vice President of Billhelp.uk. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money, and you too can fine help improving financial literacy skills. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

One thought on “Americans love the rich and the top 1%

  • June 6, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    The market decides the value of its workers and celebrities. If a CEO has done their job, maximizing profits and share price (which is no small task), to a degree that the market deems acceptable, they will be rewarded financially, as that is the reward for excelsior work in a capitalist economy.
    Because of that work, they are offered a new CEO position at a new company at which they are offered more money. So on and so forth.
    If you were making $50k and were offered $100k to do nearly the same work, you’d leave at the drop of a pin. If you were then offered $75k to do nearly the same work, ceteris paribus, you would not take the job. If then the market for jobs deems your work to be acceptable, you are offered a job in which you’ll make $200k to do nearly the same work. The same thing goes within a company. If your work is excellent compared to that of your peers, you stand to command higher wages (again, ceteris paribus).
    If a company wants to pay its CEO less in order to spread wages to ‘the little guy,’ the market would react in a way to send that CEO to a company who hasn’t done that, yet. For the same reason you wouldn’t go from the $100k job to the $75k job, even though it was more than your first job.
    We spend too much time dwelling on the achievements of others and deeming ourselves as the judge of someone’s worthiness of some success. When we should probably be spending that time trying to catch up with them.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *