31 May 2012

U.S. Statistics as Depicted with Action Figures

We've heard quite a lot about the One Percenters who own everything, The 99, The 56, etc. but I wonder how many of us really have a concept what that really looks like. To help, I filled a table with 100 action figures. Based upon recent census information, the current United States population stands around 314.5 million people. Ergo, the scale of this depiction is 1 action figure = 3.145 million people.

1 figure = 3.145 million people. Click to enlarge. Can you spot the One Percenter?
Just what does this signify, you ask? Well...

Want to know how many figures represent the totality of our active and reserved military personnel? You might be tempted to look at all those G.I. Joes on the left, or the clone troopers on the right and guess either group. You'd be overestimating by quite a lot. In point of fact, current personnel number around 3 million men and women, so...one figure. Go ahead, pick one. We'll let it be Chewbacca because not only is he a total badass, but a dependable total badass.

Panic-stricken evangelicals fear that the LGBT community is "taking over." Take a look at the table and guess how many figures are gay. According to a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA...three and a half. Assume those are the hologram figures (they're the three that are deep blue figures; two up front and one in the middle). The other half figure, we'll assume is also represented by Chewbacca because we know there are LGBT soldiers who can finally begin serving our country without suppressing their identities.

How many action figures are presently looking for work? As of April, there were 12.5 unemployed persons, constituting 8.1% of the labor market. That's four and a half figures. We'll round up and say that the Cantina Band represents those looking for work.

Health Care
Want to know how many action figures don't have health care coverage? Per the 2010 Census, 16.3 figures. You show me a Jedi, and I'll show you 3.15 million Americans who need health coverage.

This one's a bit tricky, because it's possible that a woman may have aborted multiple fetuses, but it doesn't really make much difference in this illustration because according to 2008 statistics, "1.21 million abortions took place in the United States." Assuming each abortion was performed on one woman, that's...half of an action figure. I understand that for many, even one abortion is too many and that's not an argument I'm trying to make. Rather, I think it's important to recognize that this is not presently an epidemic. There are some who would have you believe that all kinds of women are out there aborting babies left and right, and it's just not true. Even if you assume every one of those abortions was from a woman in the lowest economic bracket (and they most certainly were not), that still doesn't represent any kind of majority trend.

The One Percent
According to statistics cited by Professor Deborah Jacobs in an article for Forbes published last November:
The well known facts are worth reciting again: the top one percent of the country owns 34.6% of the wealth in total net worth; the next 19% owns 50.5%; the bottom 80% owns 15%.
One figure owns 34.6% of the wealth. Naturally, that One Percenter is Palpatine. You can't miss him; he's the old white guy in the middle of the table in red clothes, waving and smiling.  Combine him with the clone toopers, and those twenty figures own 85% of all the wealth. If you're not Palpatine and you're not a clone trooper, you get to divvy up 15% of what everyone has.

Of course, this isn't exact. There are overlaps among statistics. Surely, there are unemployed and uninsured members of the LGBT community. Even at least one clone trooper is probably gay, and Palpatine's left arm, too. Obviously, we expect the number of unemployed and uninsured to overlap tremendously, so you can probably assume not all Jedi are looking for health coverage because the Cantina Band is also looking for it.

Still, I hope this helps to put in perspective just how out of whack all our social crises are. We've got all those Jedi without health care coverage, the whole Cantina Band looking for work...and yet an entire political party cares about guarding Palpatine's money for him and freaking out over what three holograms want to do behind closed doors.

Here's what it looks like, with each of the above demographics identified.
Click to enlarge.


  1. As a Swede, I'm envious of you Americans with your Chewbacca army.

    Had it not been for the presence of the Cantina Band, I'd probably have gone with Snow White as part of the unemployed. It's hard out there for a princess.

    Fun post!

    1. Ha! We're mighty proud of our Chewbacca army. :) I meant to find a statistical purpose for Snow White, but I didn't want to go too deep with this and she didn't really fit anything in particular. I can say that basically, you can add up the number of people with Crohn's disease, the number who have had abortions and the number who are employed by Walmart and that trio combined equals roughly one figure. So if you want, Snow White has Crohn's disease, has an abortion each year and works at Walmart. It really is hard out there for a princess!