Oxfam Finds Eight Men’s Wealth Equals That of Half the World’s People
On Monday, as many across the United States celebrate the nation’s greatest civil rights hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and elites from around the world gather for the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the international charity Oxfam released a damning analysis about income inequality.
It turns out fewer men than can be counted on two hands are hoarding half the world’s wealth, a fact that Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, calls “obscene.” While the original report, published a year ago, stated that 62 of the super-rich had as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, the organization whittled the figure down to an astounding eight men — most of them American (along with a Spaniard and a Mexican) — as new information came to light.
“This is the perfect but horribly sad point to make on MLK day,” wrote Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in an email to the publication’s editors. “It is so easy to blast Donald Trump over his slight of John Lewis while ignoring the abysmal failure of the liberal/moderate elite to address growing income inequality — Nay, to author this horrid development.
“And it is a scandal,” Scheer continued, “that MLK’s home of Atlanta remains a center of so much poverty a half century after his death.”
In mid-2015, The Annie E. Casey Foundation found that “Eighty percent of Atlanta’s African-American children live in communities with high concentrations of poverty, compared with 6 percent of their white peers and 29 percent of Asians.”
Furthermore, “Graduation rates for black and Latino students in Atlanta Public Schools are 57 percent and 53 percent, compared with 84 percent and 94 percent, respectively, for white and Asian students. Black and Latino students are more than three times more likely to drop out of school.”
Kweku Forstall, who leads the foundation’s work in Atlanta, said of the findings: “Atlanta appears to be thriving, but it’s clear that many of its residents of color, especially children and youth, are being left behind—to everyone’s detriment.” He added: “We must work together—in the public, private and philanthropic sector—to help ensure all children and families have the chance to realize their potential and fully contribute to their city and the local economy.”
From The Associated Press:
The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday. … Oxfam used Forbes’ billionaires list that was last published in March 2016 to make its headline claim. According to the Forbes list, Microsoft founder Gates is the richest individual with a net worth of $75 billion. The others, in order of ranking, are Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of fashion house Inditex, financier Warren Buffett, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
Oxfam outlined measures that it hopes will be enacted to help reduce the inequality.
They include higher taxes on wealth and income to ensure a more level playing field and to fund investments in public services and jobs, greater cooperation among governments on ensuring workers are paid decently and the rich don’t dodge their taxes. And business leaders should commit to paying their fair share of taxes and a living wage to employees.
Max Lawson, Oxfam’s policy adviser, urged billionaires to “do the right thing,” and to do “what Bill Gates has called on them to do, which is pay their taxes.” … It’s because of this kind of inequality that trust in institutions has fallen sharply since the global financial crisis of 2008, according to Edelman, one of the world’s biggest marketing firms.
— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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