What does it mean to be the “99 percent?” And why is everyone so mad at the top 1 percent?

I decided to explain it to my daughter and son, ages 10 and 5, in terms of candy. One recent Friday afternoon, I bought two bags of Hershey’s Kisses and went down to the Occupy SF encampment a few blocks from VentureBeat’s headquarters.

I was armed with some hard statistics: For income distribution, I used an analysis from the U.S. Census. (See the bottom of this post for that graph.)

For wealth distribution, I used some figures cited by a sociology professor at U.C. Santa Cruz. (Not the most impartial source, but his data seems good.) The graph of wealth distribution is right here.

Wealth distribution in the U.S.

I counted out 100 kisses to represent wealth, and another 100 to represent annual income. In reality, the wealth pie is probably bigger than the income pie (you need $300,000 to $400,000 in income to be in the top 1%, or $1.2 million in net worth), but this would do for explaining things to kids.

We rounded up 10 volunteers from Occupy SF. Then we proceeded to hand out candies in rough proportion to how they’d be distributed in the U.S., if they were dollars and the 10 people were the whole population of the country. This video is the result.

I actually got mixed up on the count partway through the video. In the income distribution part, my daughter — the very last person in line — should have received just one Hershey’s Kiss, but I had already given them all away, so she got none.

But you can see from her reaction that she understands the point.

Video edited by Amanda Lopez. Thanks to Christopher Peri and Meghan Kelly for help shooting video and wrangling volunteers.

graph of income distribution in the U.S.

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