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Saturday, October 22, 2016

In this season of mass commercialism, let’s pause to consider the plight of simple millionaires.

Why? Because we now share a common cause: Inequality. You don’t hear much about it, but millionaires are suffering a wealth gap, too, and it’s having a depressing impact on both their level of consumption and their psychological well-being. While it’s true that millionaires certainly are still quite rich — indeed, they’re counted as full members of the 1 percent club. But that generalization overlooks the painful and personally grating fact that mere millionaires today are ranked as “lesser 1 percenters.” They don’t dwell in the same zip codes as the uber-rich few, who comprise the uppermost 100th of the 1 percenters, with wealth starting in the hundreds of millions of dollars and spiraling up into multiple billions.

No doubt you’ll be saddened to learn that this divide between The Haves and The Have-it-Alls is widening. Astonishingly, plain old millionaires are being abandoned by retailers that are now catering to the most lux of the luxury market. For example, have you checked out what is happening in the yacht market recently? Sales of your 100- to 150-footers are down by as much as 50 percent from 2008, and that is just one indicator of the hidden suffering being endured by the merely rich.

In the same time period, however, yacht sales of your 300-footers, with price tags above $200 million, are at all-time highs. As noted by Robert Frank, a New York Times wealth columnist (yes, such a rarefied beat does exist), “For decades, a rising tide lifted all yachts. Now it is mainly lifting megayachts.”

“Whether the product is yachts, diamonds, art, wine, or even handbags,” says the Times‘ chronicler of American wealth, “the strongest growth and biggest profits are now coming from billionaires and nine-figure millionaires, rather than from mere millionaires.” What this reflects is not the widely acknowledged wealth divide between the 1 percenters and the rest of us, but a stunning concentration of America’s total wealth in the vaults of the ever-richer 0.01 percenters.

They are the elitest of the elites, an extravagant moneyed aristocracy, sitting so high above our society that they largely go unseen. This exclusive club includes only a tiny fraction of American families, with each holding fortunes of more than $110 million. The riches of these privileged ones keep snowballing — their outsized share of our national wealth has doubled since 2002, and their holdings are expanding twice as fast as other 1 percenters.

Their growing control of wealth is distorting high-end consumerism, including not just yachts, but private jets as well. Sales of your common millionaire-sized jets are down by two-thirds since the 2008 Wall Street crash. So jet makers have shifted to the billionaire buyers, including some who are spending eye-popping levels of lucre to possess such pretties as their very own Boeing 777-300 — which normally carries 400 passengers, rather than one gabillionaire.

Imagine how this makes people with only a few million dollars feel. This extreme, obscene concentration of wealth is creating an intolerable inequality that will implode our economy and explode America’s essential, uniting sense of egalitarianism. It’s important to remember that money is like manure — it does no good unless you spread it all around.

In the spirit of holiday harmony and good will toward all, I say it’s time for you working stiffs (and even those of you who’ve been badly stiffed and still can’t find work in this jobless economic recovery) to extend your hands in a gesture of solidarity with America’s millionaires. Let’s reach out to comfort our downcast brothers and sisters. Tell them, “We’re all in this inequality fight together,” and invite them to come to the next rally in your area to raise America’s minimum wage above the poverty level.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • TZToronto

    Let’s see . . . Will the uber-rich be able to figure out a way to take it all with them when they go? Sorry, but if there is a God, I doubt that she/he will be especially impressed by a dead person who used to own a mega-yacht. After all, God (if there is one) rules EVERYTHING–including that mega-yacht that the uber-rich person thought he owned. Call it sour grapes, but I have no interest in being uber-rich.

  • ps0rjl

    Oh the horror of it all. I truly weep for the less fortunate millionaires. What can we mere dust beneath their feet do to lift them from this unfortunate predicament.

    • charleo1

      Well, they want it all. There’s that. And, we could all off ourselves when we’re no longer of any use to them. We could do that. In the meantime, we could keep our televisions tuned to Fox, for further

  • sharon1026

    Boo f*cking hoo!

  • Alvin Harrison


    Tsk, tsk, tsk…There are so many white people that just have not grasped reality yet. That reality is, that they are no longer “white”. Oh, they are still the “color” white, but the privileges that “white” used to bring are slowly being eroded, and soon will be eliminated all together. You see the new “color” in charge here is the USA is “Green”.

    Unfortunately White people you are being relegated to the underclass with the rest of the 99%. You don’t think minorities could solely make up the 99% you read about…there are not enough of them. No, the Corp/1% have a very exclusive club that requires something you just don’t have…BIG Money. What privileges have you lost?

    Well for for one, you are joining the ranks of those in poverty in record numbers, and it will only get worse. You are joining the incarcerated for being poor, having a mental illness, petty drug crimes etc. To be topical, YOUR kids are now harassed with impunity by the police too….not in the numbers of minorities, but the trend is increasing. You have lost the right to control you government, it’s systems and it’s policies. Just like the rest of us, you must fall in line, or suffer the consequences. As a matter of fact, you are being fed the same poisoned food (GMO’s) that will kill you when you are no longer needed.

    Before long, none of you will be no better off than ANYONE else in the United States that does not have the right amount of the right color…GREEN.

    You see, the corp/1% could give a crap about you because your color is “white”. Tthe new separator of who is on top is not “race”, it is “class”…the Corp/1% have everyone fooled thinking it is other races that are our enemies, and we fall into it. While we fight our potential allies, we are distracted from fighting them, the ones with the real power to buy elections, make self serving laws and generally control our lives…The Corp/1%. This is an old tactic brought up to date from the original days of slavery. There were different designations of slaves. There were the ones who worked the fields, those that worked in the big house, some who worked the stables and so on. Those that worked the fields were looked down upon by the house workers…because they thought they were “special” and “better”. They actually were so brainwashed they would turn on the field workers for infractions against the owner and system. Truth is, they were all slaves, and the owners didn’t see ANY of them different.

    So just keep ignoring a time proven fact: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. You might be in the house for a while….but the trip to the field is a a short one.

    • charleo1

      There’s a lot of hard truths in what you say Alvin. Maybe too hard for many to except all at once. Like the five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression. But let’s hope we never reach the final stage, acceptance. There’s still a lot more of us, than there are of them. Keep posting, my friend.

  • CripesAmighty

    Heard you could pick up old Soviet bloc attack subs for cheap. Kickstarter, anyone?

  • Albert Aho

    The myth of Obama is little more than an ever-shifting mirage of illusions conjured up to exploit the sympathies of the gullible and the ignorant.