All those warnings on snack packages are for the benefit of 1 percent of Americans
who are allergic to peanuts.
Sometimes it seems we have an abundance of bureaucrats, but added together,
they don't constitute more than 1 percent. The Census Bureau estimates there
are 500,000 elected officials in the U.S., and even if you combine them with
everyone alive who has ever held office, you still have, yes, about 1 percent.
Ninety-nine percent of Americans don't belong to a gang. However, the FBI
now puts gang membership at 1.4 million, or about half of 1 percent of the total
population. Gangs are one of the fastest growing segments of society, having
increased by 40 percent in just the last three years -- something the 99 percent
should really be concerned about.
While income is the principal metric among those who decry "class warfare," a
more profound distinction involves those who serve in the military. Shortly after
assuming his post, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the "men and women
who represent less than 1 percent of our nation, but who have shouldered the
burden of protecting the American people."
We hear a lot about undocumented immigrants, many of them from Mexico, but
what's the situation on the other side of the border? Well, 99 percent of Americans
don't live in Mexico but, surprisingly, quite a few do. In fact, there one million
American citizens living in Mexico.
The Census Bureau says there are now almost 2 million Americans older than
age 90, making the super-aged a force to be reckoned with as they approach 1
percent of the population.
You're probably happy to have health insurance, or wish you had it, if you're
among the 1 percenters who suffer from epilepsy, glaucoma, celiac's disease,
or type 1 diabetes.
Roughly half of 1 percent of Americans are Muslims. That's about the same
percentage of Americans who are Buddhist.
According to government estimates, 99 percent of Americans do not go out dancing
once a week, but exactly 1 percent of the adult population does. Ninety-nine
percent of us don't play a musical instrument each week, or go to the beach,
or attend an adult education class. But in all cases there is roughly 1 percent
One percent of adults are in the under-publicized group that tries to complete
a Sodoku puzzle each week, and we can thank government research for making us
aware of that.
One percent of U.S. households don't have a radio. One percent of Americans
still access the Internet with an AOL dial-up connection. One percent of American
adults will buy a car or truck from General Motors this year -- meaning, of course,
that 99 percent will not.
It's us versus them, just like it's always been.
(c) Peter Funt. This column first appeared in The New York Times