Read

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

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Scottish independence movement, Scottish National Party, SNP, representative democracy, There Is No Alternative, RISE, Green Party

Parties like RISE, the Greens, and sections of the Scottish National Party are not only setting out new ideas – they are actively involved in movements fighting for change on the street, and at the ballot box.

corporate trade deals, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, regulatory barriers, environmental regulations, health regulations

Greenpeace says internal documents show the US is attempting to lower or circumvent EU protection for environment and public health.

Regulation is the name of the game if you want to hold corporations accountable and keep them in line with the interests of people and planet.

climate chaos, carbon emissions, climate movement, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, worldwide climate protests, disrupting dirty power, Climate Mobilization, 350.org, keep it in the ground, renewable energy transition

Starting next week, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

protest movements, social mobilizations, movement of the squares, Occupy Wall Street, Podemos Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, protest demands, horizontal democracy, Arab Spring, Nuit Debout

The movements of the squares were a watershed moment that profoundly changed grassroots and institutional politics – they have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed, both under-delivering and over-delivering on their promises.

Panama Papers, tax avoidance, tax shelters, corporate tax evasion, Oxfam

The names on the list of "Broken At the Top" are like a who’s who of big business – and some of the headline figures are simply staggering.

Posted 5 days 20 hours ago
British academies, privatized education, lower teaching standards, low teacher pay, National Union of Teachers, Anti-Academies Alliance

“It is a complete bonfire of pay and conditions," said David Gilchrist of the Anti-Academies Alliance, who claims the government has "no evidence to back up the claim that academies improve educational standards – in fact the opposite is true."

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago
protest movements, social mobilizations, movement of the squares, Occupy Wall Street, Podemos Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, protest demands, horizontal democracy, Arab Spring, Nuit Debout

The movements of the squares were a watershed moment that profoundly changed grassroots and institutional politics – they have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed, both under-delivering and over-delivering on their promises.

Posted 4 days 12 min ago
act out, occupy, spoken word, poetry, Harriet Tubman, 20 dollar bill, money in politics, regulation, cost benefit analysis, human life, cost of life, value of life, Public Citizen, Amit Narang, corporate accountability, corporate malfeasance, May Day, Int

This week, regulation is the name of the game if you want to hold corporations accountable and keep them in line with the interests of people and planet. Sadly, there's one serious hurdle standing between us and regulation.

Posted 5 days 20 hours ago

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

Posted 4 days 21 hours ago
Civil Rights movement, environmental movement, green-black alliance, Black Lives Matter, Moral Mondays, Martin Luther King Jr, movement of movements

A beautiful thing is happening: Advocates for racial justice and for environmental protection are coming together in a new way.

Black Lives Matter, ACLU of Oregon, state surveillance, surveillance programs

Monitoring the social media use of BLM activists is an example of "how the level of trust between law enforcement and communities of color has been so damaged," the civil rights group says.

With more than 1,300 people arrested on the steps of the Capitol earlier this month, the Democracy Spring campaign pulled off one of the largest acts of civil disobedience this century.

protest movements, social mobilizations, movement of the squares, Occupy Wall Street, Podemos Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, protest demands, horizontal democracy, Arab Spring, Nuit Debout

The movements of the squares were a watershed moment that profoundly changed grassroots and institutional politics – they have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed, both under-delivering and over-delivering on their promises.

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.