How 8 Men Have Become Richer Than Half of the Entire World’s Population
January 18, 2017 | Shaun Bradley
(ANTIMEDIA) Research and advocacy group Oxfam International released a new report on Monday that outlines the latest developments in global economic inequality. Unfortunately, the results validate previous concerns that these massive imbalances would only accelerate. The number of people who control more wealth than the poorest 50% went from 62 to 8 in just one year. With half the world’s net worth now in such few hands, it should be easier than ever to bring awareness to this ongoing trend — but finding a solution is far more complicated.
Oxfam used Forbes’ list of billionaires and new information from Credit Suisse to reach their conclusion. The eight individuals named are Bill Gates; Amancio Ortega, founder of fashion house Inditex; Warren Buffett; Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu; Jeff Bezos; Mark Zuckerberg; Oracle’s Larry Ellison; and Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
Although many people with resources like these have made tremendous contributions to society, the question of how obligated they are to contribute to the common good still remains. After all, their fortunes have the potential to completely reshape the world for the better, but the problem arises when government dictates how much should be taxed and where that money will go. The public sector’s track record of wasting and mismanaging funds is unmatched and can only be rationalized by the economically illiterate. In an ideal world, bureaucrats would be fiscally responsible and impervious to corruption, but reality is never so utopian.
The rapid consolidation of wealth by so few showcases who the current government policies have benefited most. Artificially low interest rates and money printing, which have sent stock markets soaring for nearly eight years, have only helped solidify the elite’s hold on the financial world. They can borrow money for next to nothing and buy up huge stakes in companies, all while enjoying profits courtesy of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus programs.
Government regulations may stem from good intentions, but they can easily create a dragnet that ends up targeting those they were intended to help. While normal people are losing their jobs, seeing rent skyrocket and health care costs explode, the State has been propping up those it really serves.
In the report, Oxfam vaguely lays the blame at the feet of corporations:
“Businesses are the lifeblood of a market economy, and when they work to the benefit of everyone they are vital to building fair and prosperous societies. But when corporations increasingly work for the rich, the benefits of economic growth are denied to those who need them most. In pursuit of delivering high returns to those at the top, corporations are driven to squeeze their workers and producers ever harder – and to avoid paying taxes which would benefit everyone, and the poorest people in particular.”
Since the financial crisis began, the 1% has been scapegoated continuously, but complaining about an abstract hierarchy won’t help the millions of people living on less than $2 a day. If substantial changes are going to be made, the focus needs to be on finding hard evidence of tax evasion and unethical business practices on an individual level rather than demonizing anyone with substantial wealth. Verifiable information is what sways public opinion, just like the Panama Papers did by taking the first step in exposing some of the world’s richest people for utilizing tax havens and loopholes to avoid being held responsible. Instead of indiscriminately blaming all those who have achieved success, reports like this could act as a blueprint to help put names and faces to those anonymous adversaries who have avoided accountability.
In this age of information, the opportunity to seek individual justice lays with every journalist and activist. When people group others into left-right, rich-poor, or privileged-oppressed, for example, the uniqueness of each individual experience is lost. The inequality seen across the planet is heartbreaking, and any person with a shred of empathy should want to help. Unfortunately, the solution is rarely State intervention. The tool used to remedy this situation must come from grassroots origins. As government’s management of resources demonstrates, there is no other viable alternative. By inspiring others to take action voluntarily, we can build a foundation that doesn’t rely on the threat of violence and use of force for progress.
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