“What can anyone do about it?”

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.








The Gulfstream 550 Photo by Lifeglobe.net

The Gulfstream 550
Photo by Lifeglobe.net

A Bloomberg News article published Dec. 6 in the Chicago Tribune, “Luxury jets pamper pets with pilaf, room to roam,” raised hackles at the trade group for makers of the ultra-pricey business perks.

People might get the idea that private jets are just another wretched excess of the billionaire class.

The National Business Aviation Association begs to disagree.

“Studies have repeatedly shown that companies using business aircraft outperform comparable companies that don’t use the aircraft,” harrumphed its president.

He’s right. The NBAA paid for those studies, and that’s what they showed.

“The vast majority of entrepreneurs and businesses using these aircraft are doing so to increase their productivity and efficiency,” he wrote.  “They are like offices in the sky…”

Really? Cookie-cutter cubicles, a coffee pot nobody ever cleans, a break-room fridge full of aging leftovers – no, not that kind of office. Those are only for human resources, not for the high-value innovators who need much more costly incentives to motivate them.

As Forbes magazine noted, “In order to charter a Gulfstream 550 for a single hour, you’d need to work 1,192 hours at the Federal minimum wage of $7.25.”

Such a cost might seem sky-high to the average American. But costs are offset by tax deductions for these efficiency enhancing devices, thus creating more shareholder value (a euphemism for profit, much of which goes to executives with huge chunks of company stock).

Thus, taxpayers subsidize the use of these mobile penthouses and the “value” they bestow. This is capitalism, in which income is redistributed upward to the wealthy, rather than downward to the needy, as in socialism.

But it’s not just designer dogs and CEOs who benefit. Everybody does! If you need more evidence about the critical importance of private luxury jets, those “Lifelines for America’s small- and medium-sized towns,” those “Life savers for people in need,” check out this website from the NBAA: www.noplanenogain.org.

Keep a barf bag handy.