Davos Report: World's 85 Richest have Same Wealth As All of Bottom 50 Percent

Search form

Davos Report: World's 85 Richest have Same Wealth As All of Bottom 50 Percent

Davos Report: World's 85 Richest have Same Wealth As All of Bottom 50 Percent
Wed, 1/22/2014
This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera America

The world's elite have rigged laws in their own favor, undermining democracy and creating a chasm of inequality across the globe, international organization Oxfam said in advance of the annual get-together of the world's most powerful in Davos, Switzerland.

Inequality has run so out of control, that the 85 richest people on the planet are worth nearly as much as the poorest 50 percent of the world's population, Oxfam said in a new report on widening disparities between the rich and poor.

The report exposes the "pernicious impact" of growing inequality that helps "the richest undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promote their interests at the expense of everyone else," the statement said.

Inequality has emerged as a major concern in countries around the world, with President Barack Obama prioritizing a push to narrow the wealth gap in his second term.

But the wealth gap in America is still growing. And the problem seems likely to worsen as the International Labor Organization, the U.N. labor agency, reported that 201.8 million people around the world were unemployed in 2013 — an increase of 4.9 million from the previous year.

In China, the new government there has cracked down on perks and privileges of the elite, and Germany seems set to adopt a new minimum wage.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which organizes the Davos conference, warned last week that the growing gulf between the rich and the poor represents the biggest global risk in 2014.

"The chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade," the WEF said.

But many of the corporate giants and world leaders set to confer at Davos, a posh ski resort tucked on the eastern reaches of Switzerland near Liechtenstein, are implicitly pointed at by Oxfam.

Among the report's many shocking statistics about wealth and inequality: the world’s wealthiest 1 percent have $110 trillion in assets, 65 times the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of the world's population. The richest 85 people in the world have as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent, according to the report.

Oxfam goes on to blame specific practices that lead to a "rigging (of) the system," where money is funneled almost exclusively to the already-wealthy.

"Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority," Oxfam said.

Still, the speakers at Davos this year will train their brains on this thorny issue. In the forefront will be Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Sydney has just taken on the G20 presidency, and in a speech on Thursday Abbot is expected to tackle the rich and poor gap issue, with the fight against tax havens and evasion firmly on target.

In the report, Oxfam said that "since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it."

Originally published by Al Jazeera America

Article Tabs

The number of homeless children has grown by 60 percent in the past six years.

World Bank policies, World Bank evictions, economic displacement

Since 2004, an estimated 3.4 million people have been forced from their homes, deprived of their land or had their livelihoods damaged because they lived in the path of a World Bank project.

bank tellers protest, predatory lending, predatory bank services

The newest line of criticism for the banking industry is coming from within, as a group of rank-and-file banking employees from the country's largest commercial banks demand that their employer stop ordering them to use predatory sales tactics.

Robert Mundell, euro policies, Greek austerity

The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive – the euro is doing exactly what its progenitor, and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it, predicted and planned for it to do.

Congress’s tax committees announced an agreement Thursday to speed through a bill to give President Barack Obama the Trans-Pacific Partnership fast-track authority.

Eleanor Goldfield, Act Out!, California drought, Baltimore water shut-off

This week we dive into the shallow waters of California’s extreme drought, and what you can do about it (hint: it’s not just about cutting back on personal hygiene).

Posted 5 days 12 hours ago
Hillary Clinton, Scott Walker, GMOs, fracking, surveillance programs, Patriot Act, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, union bashing, right to work

Hillary Clinton is obviously not a progressive candidate – and she is the epitome of the Washington establishment that most Republicans are running against, and which most Americans have grown to distrust.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago
student debt, student loans, college loans, Strike Debt, Corinthian Colleges, student debt strike, debt resistance, Shays' Rebellion, sharecropping, Southern Tenant Farmers Union

The student debt strike isn't the first time debt resistance movements have taken hold across the U.S. – and the lessons we learn from prior movements can well be applied to today.

Posted 6 days 3 hours ago

I'm not sure we will win if we don't begin. So I realign my mind to the sky and occupy visions.

Posted 5 days 13 hours ago

Demonstrators in New York clogged the Brooklyn Bridge in a mass protest against incidents of police violence

Posted 5 days 13 hours ago
fastfood worker strikes, low wage worker movement, Fight for 15, #BlackLivesMatter, Walmart worker protests

On Wednesday morning, the fastfood labor campaign is staging what organizers say will be its largest ever protest – spanning 40 countries and including actions in 200 U.S. cities demanding higher wages.

China workers strikes, Chinese labor movement

The country's 168 million migrant workers are discovering their labor rights through the spread of social media, becoming a thorn in the side of the Communist party.

low wage workers, $15/hour minimum wage, fastfood worker strikes

Nearly 1,000 fast-food workers, Walmart employees and union members in Los Angeles joined nationwide protests Wednesday calling for a $15 minimum wage.

A mobilization and sit-in by students, alumni and other activists – including a civil disobedience blockade of Massachusetts Hall, housing the office of President Faust – seeks to spur America's elite university to divest from fossil fuels.

Golden Dawn, Greek austerity, anti-austerity protests, Syriza Party, Pavlos Fyssas, Golden Dawn violence, scapegoats

Continued austerity policies, especially in Europe’s poorer countries, could leave those left behind looking for scapegoats – a situation that history teaches us never ends well.

Sign Up