Saturday, February 16, 2019

26 billionaires own as much as world’s 3.8 billion poorest people

“Inequality is not inevitable,” the report says, “it’s a political choice.” 

Since the financial crisis, the super-rich billionaires of the world have seen their wealth grow by $2.5 billion a day. This is just one of the shocking revelations in a report published by Oxfam this past weekend.

While the world’s richest people saw their fortunes swell by over $900 billion last year, or $2.5 billion a day, the world’s poorest actually lost wealth at a decline of 11 percent, or $500 million each day.

Oxfam’s report, titled “Private Good or Public Wealth?” revealed that 26 billionaires now own as much wealth as the world’ poorest 3.8 billion people combined.

The number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis of 2008 while the rest of the world has struggled to recover. Women have been particularly affected as they have been left to fill the gaps in public services with many hours of unpaid care. Men meanwhile hold 50 percent more of the world’s wealth than women.

Universal health care, education, and other public services reduce the gap between the rich and poor, but the global elite and massive corporations continue to fight against such plans for progressive policies, choosing instead to hoard any economic gains that have come about. Their fortunes are increased ten fold with such things as tax plans that favor the wealthy, like the recent GOP’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich.

“The recent U.S. tax law is a master class on how to favor massive corporations and the richest citizens,” says Paul O’Brien, vice president for policy and campaigns at Oxfam America. “The law rewards U.S. companies that have trillions stashed offshore, encourages U.S. companies to dodge foreign taxes on their foreign profits, and fuels a global race to the bottom that benefits big business and wealthy individuals.”

“The only winners in the race to the bottom on corporate tax are the wealthiest among us. Now is the time to work towards a new set of tax rules that work for the many, not the few. We need economic, political, and tax reform to level the playing field if we want to restore prosperity and opportunity for all, including women, girls whose needs are so often overlooked.”

The Oxfam report concludes that what is needed is a new economic model, or a “human economy” where tax systems for corporations and the super-rich are modeled to eliminate tax avoidance and evasion and to instead benefit all while increasing tax revenues to fund vital universal public services like education and health care.

“If the richest one percent paid an additional 0.5 percent tax on their wealth, an estimated $418 billion would be raised a year,” states the report. “This alone would ensure an education for the 262 million children currently not in school and provide healthcare that could save the lives of more than three million people.”

“Inequality is not inevitable,” the report says, “it’s a political choice.”

The report was compiled from data produced by Credit Suisse and is being released to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum this week, where traditionally the world’s mega-rich will congregate in the Swiss Alps to talk about the economy.

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