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

Ferguson

The full extent of the racial persecution of black residents in Ferguson, Missouri, by the city’s overwhelmingly white law enforcement authorities was disclosed on Wednesday in 

Trans-Pacific Partnership, corporate trade deal, TPP, outsourcing, fast track authority, fast track legislation

A fast-tracked TPP would lock in a rigged set of economic rules, lasting potentially forever, before most Americans — let alone some members of Congress — have had a chance to understand it thoroughly.

Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, SNAP, USDA

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act created anti-hunger programs by cutting food stamps by $5 billion.

Romanian corruption, kickbacks, Elena Udrea, Dorin Cocos

Big-time corruption and small-fry bribes have brought the whole country to a state of moral metastasis.

By taxing progressively, respecting worker rights, and rethinking economics, we could make a great start at creating a more equal world.

Occupy.com's New Original Series: Act Out! Premiers March 4th, Watch the Trailer Now!

Posted 4 days 7 hours ago
public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, Ellen Brown

New bedfellows are writing what may be the next chapter in the story of our democracy: a network of public banks to facilitate a lateral, collaborative distribution of affordable credit that challenges Wall Street's control.

Posted 4 days 7 hours ago

"Under The Dome," which relates a mother's concerns about the effect of the country’s filthy air on her child, has been compared to Rachel Carson's seminal work "Silent Spring."

Posted 3 days 3 hours ago
Charlie Hebdo, ISIS killings, LGBT threats

A human rights commission report warns that anyone believed to be LGBT under the Islamic State control is likely at imminent risk of death.

Posted 4 days 7 hours ago
Boris Nemtsov, Russia repression, Russia protests, Russian opposition movement, Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin

"If political views are punished this way, then this country simply has no future," Sergei Mitrokhin, an opposition leader, said of Nemtsov's murder.

Posted 4 days 7 hours ago
Black Lives Matter, #BlackLivesMatter, Black Panthers, Black Panther Party, Ferguson protests, Michael Brown, racial injustice, police killings, police violence, police brutality, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Fred Hampton

A half century ago, activists were demanding not only the recognition that black lives matter but also the right to black power.

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, Ellen Brown

New bedfellows are writing what may be the next chapter in the story of our democracy: a network of public banks to facilitate a lateral, collaborative distribution of affordable credit that challenges Wall Street's control.

recycled biofuel, Uptown Oil, Fatbergs, carbon emissions, clean burning fuel, biodiesel

Uptown Oil estimates London could produce around 50 million liters per year of recycled biodiesel, causing a major drop in greenhouse gas emissions. So why is government turning its head?

union busting, Scott Walker, right to work, Madison protests, Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Wisconsin Citizen Media Cooperative, Wisconsin Jobs Now

Wisconsin unions bussed thousands of workers from around the state on Saturday to demonstrate against the impending adoption of a law to ban private-sector workers from being required to join a union or pay dues.

When I was in southern Pakistan last year, poor youths told me that constant police pressure combined with unrelenting unemployment made joining the militias the only viable means of survival.

Sign Up