Repeat after me: “I am free.” Now, say it again with conviction. Can you? Probably not. This is because the world we collectively share is anything but fair, and this is largely due to an imbalanced distribution of wealth. If you are doubtful, perhaps a new report by Oxfam will convince you. In their recent report, entitled “Reward Work, Not Wealth“, the non-profit organization reveals that 82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 “went to the richest one percent.”
According to the report, 2017 “saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history.” In fact, a new billionaire was made every other day during the year. These means there are now 2,043 dollar billionaires on Earth.
“Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men. Governments must create a more equal society by prioritizing ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful,” says the report summary.
The report shares that the billionaires’ wealth increased by a whopping $762 billion in just 12 months. How much money is that? Well, “enough to end extreme poverty seven times over,” claims Oxfam. The compelling report was published as world leaders prepare for the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos.
42 people now “own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people,” says the report. And, 61 people own the same wealth as the bottom 50 percent. The trend is nothing new, but is becoming more noticeable as “the richest one percent continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.”
Said economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University:
“Sometimes the super-rich call out Oxfam and others for ‘stoking class warfare’ but the truth is that in many societies, including my own, the United States, many of the super-rich have in effect declared war on the poor. The urgent need is to rebalance the tables, defend the rights of the poor, and re-establish fair societies that meet the needs of all in line with globally agreed goals.”
In its report, Oxfam urged policymakers to acknowledge the imbalance of wealth distribution and to take action to promote greater equality. Outlined methods include ending the gender pay gap and protecting women workers’ rights. The non-profit also estimated that “a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.”
“Because of high and rising inequality within countries, the top 1% richest individuals in the world have captured twice as much growth as the bottom 50% since 1980. Wealth is skyrocketing at the top and becomes entrenched. Oxfam’s research, which describes these worrying trends, is essential reading. Now is the time to reward work, not wealth,” said Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley.
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