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.
How Many People Are in the 1%?
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.
The Four Hundred
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.