What it’s really like to live amongst the 1 percent
I live in a state with a lot of wealth. I mean a lot of it. I affectionately call Connecticut The Nutmeg State. After all, that is one of its many monikers. I moved here 10 years ago. I was newly married and had a baby on the way.
My career was taking off in ways I had never imagined. I came here kicking and screaming from my native New York. In fact, I'm fairly certain you can still see my scratch marks over the state line. My husband at the time lived in Stamford with his son, so I knew I'd have to dust off my passport and make my way up I-95.
We settled in Westport because my sister and her family live there. She and I brought up the Latino population, excluding domestic and restaurant workers, to exactly two. Though in my bones I felt I had no business calling 06880 my home, I made it as cozy as I could. After all, during the day, I was a national network anchor/correspondent. I rubbed elbows with the rich and famous and super smart. I made good money. So did my spouse. Together, we were able to buy a nice house in a nice school district, take a nice vacation once a year and drive a nice car.
That was 2005 before the bubble burst. "The one percent" was not yet a part of anyone's lexicon. We were just living comfortably. Is it plausible that I would have been considered part of the one percent back then? Perhaps, though a stroll down Main Street would prove otherwise. My Range Rover looked like a junker compared to the fleet of luxury cars lining the street. My vacation to Florida where I only paid for airfare because we stayed with my in-laws was the equivalent of a volunteer trip to a developing nation to these folks.
It's 2015 and I still live in The Nutmeg State. I'm now a divorced single mother of two boys and I've moved three times in the last five years. In order to be part of that exclusive club we've come to know as the one percent, I must make $677,608 a year. I'd like to thank the good folks at the Economic Policy Institute for not rounding that number up. Withholding those last two dollars gives me hope... said no one ever.
I've held down a few jobs in the last three years. I've also collected unemployment. I cut coupons from the Sunday paper (and have since I was a kid) and would sooner go to three different grocery stores to save a buck on eggs and milk. Gas prices these days have done wonders for my bank account. In addition to being the state with the highest one-percent threshold, Connecticut is also the state with the worst inequality. This, according to our friends at the EPI. And therein lies the rub.
Even in my financial heyday, I still couldn't compete... not that I wanted to. And though I possess the exclusive zip code, I only need to travel 10-15 miles to see gangs fighting in the street, a school with no library or music program or a supermarket that has iceberg lettuce as its produce with the highest nutritional value. Fear not, ladies of Whole Foods, the folks in the ghetto ain't comin' for your kale any time soon.
Regardless what some try to do to advance their financial livelihoods, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class has gone the way of the dinosaur. As for me, I still have bills to pay, mouths to feed and college to think of. I've made it this far in the Nutmeg State. I just wonder what happens when that one percent shrinks to one-half of a percent.