Loren (I hope you'll forgive me for taking the liberty of using your first name, I feel that this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship), with thousands of sources to pick from, with so many different prejudices and viewpoints abounding on the internet, I'm sure that you'll have little objection to our using "the peoples' encyclopedia," Wikipedia, as an unbiased source, with no ax to grind, to answer your question, "Tell me, what amount constitutes "rich" and who sets the level?"
As a peruser of a goodly sample of the posts from this site, as well as one who has obviously examined, then analyzed the pages within the tabs under the site's banner, I know that you are constitutionally unable to make the fatal fallacious error of the Conservative sheeplets by equating my attack on the greediest of Conservative fat cats, those who criminally exploit the political system for their gain to the detriment of the poor and middle classes, to the extermination of all those with a net worth,say, of a million dollars. And since parenthetically, your spelling, grammar, and sentence structure labels you as liberally-inclined as opposed to those of a more conservative bent, you deserve an honest, and lengthy answer.
And so Loren, via Wikipedia:
Historically in some cultures, members of an upper class often did not have to work for a living, as they were supported by earned or inherited investments (often real estate), although members of the upper class may have had less actual money than merchants. Upper- class status commonly from the social position of one's family and not from one's own achievements or wealth. Much of the population that composed the upper class consisted of aristocrats, ruling families, titled people, and religious hierarchs. These people were usually born into their status and historically there was not much movement across class boundaries. This is to say that it was much harder for an individual to move up in class simply because of the structure of society.
The American Upper Class describes the sociological concept pertaining to the "top layer" of society in the United States. This social class is most commonly described as consisting of those with great wealth and power and may also be referred to as the Capitalist Class or simply as The Rich. Persons of this class commonly have immense influence in the nation's political and economic institutions as well as public opinion.
Many politicians, heirs to fortunes, top business executives, CEOs, successful venture capitalists and celebrities are considered members of this class. Some prominent and high-rung professionals may also be included if they attain great influence and wealth. The main distinguishing feature of this class, which is estimated to constitute roughly 1% of the population, is the source of income. While the vast majority of persons and households derive their income from salaries, those in the upper class derive their income from investments and capital gains. Estimates for the size of this group commonly vary from 1% to 2%, while some surveys have indicated that as many as 6% of Americans identify as "upper class." Sociologist Leonard Beeghley sees wealth as the only significant distinguishing feature of this class and, therefore, refers to this group simply as "the rich."
|“||The members of the tiny capitalist class at the top of the hierarchy have an influence on economy and society far beyond their numbers. They make investment decisions that open or close employment opportunities for millions of others. They contribute money to political parties, and they often own media enterprises that allow them influence over the thinking of other classes... The capitalist class strives to perpetuate itself: Assets, lifestyles, values and social networks... are all passed from one generation to the next." -Dennis Gilbert, The American Class Structure, 1998.||”|
"Upper-class families... dominate corporate America and have a disproportionate influence over the nation's political, educational, religious, and other institutions. Of all social classes, members of the upper class also have a strong sense of solidarity and 'consciousness of kind' that stretches across the nation and even the globe." -William Thompson & Joseph Hickey, Society in Focus, 2005.
Households with net worths of $1 million or more may be identified as members of the upper-most socio-economic demographic, depending on the class model used. While most contemporary sociologists estimate that only 1% of households are members of the upper class, sociologist Leonard Beeghley asserts that all households with a net worth of $1 million or more are considered "rich." He divides "the rich" into two sub-groups: the rich and the super-rich. The rich constitute roughly 5% of U.S. households and their wealth is largely in the form of home equity. Other contemporary sociologists, such as Dennis Gilbert, argue that this group is not part of the upper class but rather part of the upper middle class, as its standard of living is largely derived from occupation-generated income and its affluence falls far short of that attained by the top percentile. The super-rich, according to Beeghley, are those able to live off their wealth without depending on occupation-derived income. This demographic constitutes roughly 0.9% of American households. Beeghley's definition of the super-rich is congruent with the definition of upper class employed by most other sociologists. The top .01 percent of the population, with an annual income of $9.5 million or more, received 5% of the income of the United States in 2007. These 15,000 families have been characterized as the "richest of the rich".
This leads us to the pejorative term, "Fat Cat," again, as defined in Wikipedia.
Fat cat is a political term originally describing a rich political donor, also called an angel or big money man. The New York Times has described fat cats as symbols of "a deeply corrupt campaign finance system riddled with loopholes", with Americans seeing them as recipients of the "perks of power", but able to "buy access, influence policy and even veto appointments."
It is also commonly used to describe a rich, greedy person who, due to ownership of large amounts of capital, is able to "live easy" off the work of others.
And the term "Fat Cat" leads us to the word "Oligarchy."
Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning "a few", and ἄρχω (archo), meaning "to rule or to command") is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.
Throughout history, oligarchies have been tyrannical (relying on public servitude to exist) or relatively benign. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, but oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy.
In The United States
Some contemporary authors have characterized the United States' current state of affairs as being oligarchic in nature.
Simon Johnson wrote that "the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent," a structure which he delineated as being the "most advanced" in the world Jeffrey A. Winters argues that "oligarchy and democracy operate within a single system, and American politics is a daily display of their interplay." Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opined in a 2010 The Nation article that an "upper-crust of extremely wealthy families are hell-bent on destroying the democratic vision of a strong middle-class which has made the United States the envy of the world. In its place they are determined to create an oligarchy in which a small number of families control the economic and political life of our country."[
And we ultimately tie the ambitions of the greediest of the upper classes to their yearning for a feudal system.
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.
Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the medieval period. In its classic definition, by Francois-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals, and fiefs.
There is also a broader definition, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), that includes not only warrior nobility but all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clerics, and the peasantry bonds of manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a "feudal society". Since 1974 with the publication of Elizabeth A. R. Brown's The Tyranny of a Construct, and Susan Reynolds' Fiefs and Vassals (1994), there has been ongoing inconclusive discussion among medieval historians as to whether feudalism is a useful construct for understanding medieval society.
And finally, to link the upper classes' actions in subverting our political system for their own use:
"In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty."
So ends the Wikipedia definitions - with no editorial input from the undersigned. Thus, we can assume the definitions to be fair and non-judgemenetal, reality and not fantasy.
The theme of this site, Loren, and I invite you to explore the site more fully - especially the tabs, "Objections Rebutted" and "The Birth of This Blog" - is that Conservatism is a tool masquerading under a manufactured political philosophy, used by the most avaricious and power-hungry of the rich, upper class to take us back to the days of feudalism. Because this so-called Conservatism is nothing more than a criminal conspiracy, it must be outlawed, and outlawed quickly, before it is too late.
To be sure, we have been conditioned to ignore the criminality of Conservatism all of our lives, but as the earth was once thought to be flat and the center of the universe, objective examination of the Conservatives' role in our history shows us the "vast criminal conspiracy" in a true light.
Note a current story: "Newt Gingrich At The RNC: The Wealthy Are 'More Noble.'"
“We need to reassert,” he said, “the nobility of creating jobs and wealth.”
“Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks,
then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission,
you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you
work hard for thirty-five years and you pay it back and then -- one day -- you have a massive
stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of
the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to
walk and the power to talk and then -- one day -- you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street,
and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe.”
Denis Leary (American comedian and actor, b.1957)