Why 1%? It is the same reason that it might be said that 1% of people are smart. Or 1% have better vision than others. Why are 99% of all people less smart than the 1%. Why indeed?
Because someone started using the label “The 1%” as if it meant something special. It doesn’t. There is no 1% club or ID card.
The Forbes Rich List published every year names certain people, probably closer to .00000001% of the population. Forbes ignores, misses, or omits many people worth more than those on their lists — because they choose to be low profile.
But it would be too cumbersome to classify rich as the upper one-twenty-thousandth %. It just doesn’t have that same “ring” as the 1%.
It [1%] is just an arbitrary label, a statistic. Someone, many years ago said in a novel, “400 Families in New York are the only important people there are ”.
Thus, when I was a kid many decades ago, the expression used for “rich people” was “The Four Hundred”. The use of “The 1%” is rather recent.
I am sure the 400 were a much smaller percentage of the population than 1%.
In any event, I am certain that you are in the upper 1% of something. My partner says I am in the upper 1% of tellers of bad jokes. Why are 99% better joke-tellers than I am? If I knew, I wouldn’t be in the upper 1%. Or maybe that should be the “lower” 1% of good joke tellers.