Between Oxfam’s report claiming that 1 percent of the world’s population will soon own 50 percent of its wealth and perennial presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s new packaging as an anti-poverty warrior, it’s understandable if most people just want to throw up their hands (and maybe their latest meals) in utter frustration, discouragement and anger.
Naturally, if you’re not among the 1-percenter billionaires, it’s easy to think that no individual could possibly make a difference in anything. But that kind of I’m-on-my-own thinking is precisely what keeps people from acting. It’s no coincidence that those few at the top of the income scale insist that individuals alone are responsible for overcoming all obstacles to improving their situations, that unions and government regulation threaten freedom and that their own advantages of wealth, the best schools and knowing the right people had nothing to do with their success.
But we’re not helpless.
Take one hour a week and do the following:
1. Pick a couple of potential candidates for elective office and find out how they voted in the past on taxes, regulation of banks and Wall Street, student loans, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, Medicaid, corporate incentives and other pocketbook issues. Never mind what they say. Past actions, not campaign promises, are the best predictors of what they’ll do in the future.
2. If you find a candidate whose voting record pleases you, spend that weekly hour working for his or her campaign.
3. Don’t overlook people running for local offices. They have a great impact on where you live.
And just for fun, take a look at how self-described capitalist tool Forbes magazine tries to discredit the statistical validity of Oxfam’s findings. Using Oxfam’s charts, Forbes proclaims that there isn’t enough data to reliably predict when or if Oxfam’s 50-percent conclusion will come true. What the charts show has already happened, however, is that between 2000 and 2014 the world’s 1-percenters owned between 44 percent and almost 49 percent of the globe’s wealth.