This is not the politics of envy, this is utter madness

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much as the poorest half of the world's population, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world's financial and political elites in Davos. This number has fallen dramatically from 388 as recently as 2010 and 80 last year.

An Economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world's population – that's 3.6 billion people – has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010. This 41 per cent drop has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period. Meanwhile the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. Just nine of the '62' are women.

Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months. Oxfam's prediction – made ahead of last year's Davos – that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us by 2016, actually came true in 2015, a year early.

Some other crazy numbers that give this some perspective

Contemporary Slavery

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) around 21 million men, women and children around the world are in a form of slavery. There are many different characteristics that distinguish slavery from other human rights violations, however only one needs to be present for slavery to exist. Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • forced to work – through mental or physical threat;
  • owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse;
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property';
  • physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement

Hunger and starvation

Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth.

Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.

We are often told that there is not enough money to go around

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.

Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen

Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.

More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.

2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized

The litany of pain and suffering goes on and on, even just a fraction of the $1,750,000,000,000 accumulated by the 62 richest people on the planet would be enough.

Just looking at offshore accounts designed to avoid taxation [from the Oxfam report]

Globally, it is estimated that super-rich individuals have stashed a total of $7.6tr in offshore accounts. If tax were paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190bil would be available to governments every year.

It is not as if this wealth came out of nowhere, it came from the hard work of hundreds of millions who paid their taxes. It came from keeping wages at a minimum and profits at a maximum. It came from indentured labor, it came from child labor as well. The wealth is not created by the wealthiest it is vacuumed up by them. They buy nations through their corporate arms, they buy the media to continue the unrelenting propaganda. The accumulation of the world’s wealth and control of the worlds resources has caused wars and the associated rape and pillage.

This is not envy of the rich. This is criminal and utter madness and the real shame of it it was easily avoidable if not reversible, which might actually require some hard work from our governments who have every reason to maintain the status quo up until civil unrest and perhaps beyond.

How do we fight global climate change, some say it will cost too much but it is not as if the wealth is not there, it is just being horded by the very few. Besides if done properly, combating climate change would be profitable for everyone, rather than just building defenses to ameliorate the consequences.

It is not as if this accumulation by the world richest is harmless, millions die every year because of it. Some may even say but, there are too many people already, then again, prosperity and education have reduced the birth rate consistently when coupled to women’s rights and health care.

Bernie is right to keep hammering this point, it’s not just a question of rich and poor it is a question of survival for hundreds of millions.

  • January 18, 2016