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Just 85 people control more money than bottom 3.5 billion

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  • Jan 27th, 2014 12:51 pm
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Aug 7, 2010
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Just 85 people control more money than bottom 3.5 billion

Surging incomes among the world’s most well-off in recent decades compared to stagnant wages for the middle-class in industrialized economies like Canada – even through the most powerful economic recession since the Great Depression – has put inequality at the centre of discussions at this year’s summit of global leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

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Wealthy elites have co-opted political power to rig the rules of the economic game, undermining democracy and creating a world where the 85 richest people own the wealth of half of the world’s population, worldwide development organization Oxfam warns in a report published today.

Working For the Few, published ahead of this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, details the pernicious impact that widening inequality is having in both developed and developing countries, helping the richest undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promote their interests at the expense of everyone else.

The report says that there is a growing global public awareness of this power-grab. Polls done for Oxfam in six countries (Brazil, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and US) show that most people questioned in all those countries believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich.
nequality has shot up the global agenda in recent years: US President Obama has made it a key priority for 2014. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified widening income disparities as the second greatest worldwide risk in the next 12-18 months. WEF’s Global Outlook report, published in November, warned inequality is undermining social stability and ‘threatening security on a global scale.’

Oxfam wants governments to take urgent action to reverse the trend. It is asking those attending the WEF to make six-point personal pledge to tackle the problem.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam Executive Director who will attend the Davos meetings, said: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world’s population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage.

Facing inequality is key

“We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table.

“In developed and developing countries alike, we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest.”

Wealth and power

Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it.

A recent US study presented compelling statistical evidence that the interests of the wealthy are overwhelmingly represented by the US Government compared with those of the middle classes. The preferences of the poorest had no impact on the votes of elected officials.

This capture of opportunities by the rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes has helped create a situation where seven out of every ten people in the world live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s and one per cent of the world’s families now own 46% of its wealth ($110 trillion).

The report says:

Globally, the richest individuals and companies hide trillions of dollars away from the tax man in a web of tax havens around the world. It is estimated that $21 trillion is held unrecorded and off-shore;

In the US, years of financial deregulation directly correlates to the increase in the income share of the top one per cent which is now at its highest level since the eve of the Great Depression;

In India, the number of billionaires increased tenfold in the past decade, aided by a highly regressive tax structure and the wealthy exploiting their government connections, while spending on the poorest remains remarkably low;

In Europe, austerity has been imposed on the poor and middle classes under huge pressure from financial markets whose wealthy investors have benefited from state bailouts of financial institutions;

In Africa, global corporations – particularly those in extractive industries - exploit their influence to avoid taxes and royalties, reducing the resources available to governments to fight poverty.
111 replies
Jr. Member
Jan 7, 2014
164 posts
Vancouver
I blame capitalism. Oh wait, so do the 3.5 billion people mentioned. :) Maybe if they stand under the rich people, they will get some trickled down stuff, maybe sweat or something will trickle down...who knows...it's tough to be that rich and not blush and sweat a little. :)

On a more serious note, inequality really bothers me. I know the world has tried different systems, communism, socialism, whatever, and none are good in practice (even if good in theory). It seems that "politics" is equivalent to "inequality" and "corruption" no matter what system is adopted. Current capitalism (properly regulated) seems to have a lot of good things going for it but it doesn't mean it's a great system. It creates and supports much inequality.

I mean think about it. There are millions of people dying, literally, every year from lack of access to food or clean water, and there are super rich people who can help them live for many more years if they only donated something like a one thousandth of their money to them.

But they won't. They feel that they "earned" their money (even if it means hiring high priced lawyers to bend the law the way they want). But of course once they have succeeded in their business and it's big enough, they decide to donate some money so they don't look like blood sucking selfish people that they are. They need to donate some money to maintain a certain good image, no? So nowadays every super rich person has a wiki entry for charitable donations. It's almost comical. It's like, Hey how can you be mad at Bill Gates monopolizing the market or charging people so much for his crappy buggy software...he donated so much money, he's a good guy, let's buy Windows 8!

You may misunderstand me based on the earlier paragraph but I don't want rich people's pity money. I was merely using that example to say that the money can help so many people. But I want a system that is fair and just and not allow anybody to get THAT rich if there are people out there THAT poor. I don't want a system that says everybody should be equal in every way. That's as stupid as people who say boys and girls are the same. They're not. And people are not the same either. Some people can make more money or are smarter or more hardworking, and I don't see anything wrong with rewarding them. But there's a limit. It has to be fair to everybody.

But have you ever been to India? This is SO WRONG.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antilia_%28building%29
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Posen9 wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2014 9:49 pm
I blame capitalism.
I don't think it's capitalism that is at fault.

it is the fact that these 85 individuals have access to a computer where they simply punch in whatever number they feel like, and have that amount instantly transferred to their bank account or printed in dollar bills
while the other 3.5 billion stand idly by, most of them doing nothing but sucking on their thumb, keeping busy with things that don't matter in life, like entertainment, celebrity gossip, sports, ...etc.
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Jan 7, 2014
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fibonacci wrote:
Jan 23rd, 2014 5:34 pm
I don't think it's capitalism that is at fault.

it is the fact that these 85 individuals have access to a computer where they simply punch in whatever number they feel like, and have that amount instantly transferred to their bank account or printed in dollar bills
while the other 3.5 billion stand idly by, most of them doing nothing but sucking on their thumb, keeping busy with things that don't matter if life, like entertainment, celebrity gossip, sports, ...etc.
Interesting perspective, I like it.
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Bottom 3.5B really need to pull up their socks.
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^disgusting comments suggesting that people born into a crappy backwater 3rd world hole actually have a chance to become rich, he needs a reality check, only people born into 1st world country have that opportunity.
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Posen9 wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2014 9:49 pm
You may misunderstand me based on the earlier paragraph but I don't want rich people's pity money. I was merely using that example to say that the money can help so many people. But I want a system that is fair and just and not allow anybody to get THAT rich if there are people out there THAT poor. I don't want a system that says everybody should be equal in every way. That's as stupid as people who say boys and girls are the same. They're not. And people are not the same either. Some people can make more money or are smarter or more hardworking, and I don't see anything wrong with rewarding them. But there's a limit. It has to be fair to everybody.
OK, so you want society to be more "fair". How exactly would you go about achieving this? Communism was tried to achieve (among other things) a more "fair" society and failed miserably. Higher tax rates for the "rich" have been tried (even though they already pay much more in tax than poor people), but this doesn't work because they either work less hard or move to lower tax jurisdictions.

To be honest, I am not sure there is any solution to the "fairness" issue that would not end up making everyone poorer. But I try to keep an open mind about it and would be interested to read any solution you propose.
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CheapScotch wrote:
Jan 23rd, 2014 6:43 pm
OK, so you want society to be more "fair". How exactly would you go about achieving this? Communism was tried to achieve (among other things) a more "fair" society and failed miserably. Higher tax rates for the "rich" have been tried (even though they already pay much more in tax than poor people), but this doesn't work because they either work less hard or move to lower tax jurisdictions.

To be honest, I am not sure there is any solution to the "fairness" issue that would not end up making everyone poorer. But I try to keep an open mind about it and would be interested to read any solution you propose.
here's your answer
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divx wrote:
Jan 23rd, 2014 6:05 pm
^disgusting comments suggesting that people born into a crappy backwater 3rd world hole actually have a chance to become rich, he needs a reality check, only people born into 1st world country have that opportunity.
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bargainshunter wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2014 9:23 pm
Globally, the richest individuals and companies hide trillions of dollars away from the tax man in a web of tax havens around the world. It is estimated that $21 trillion is held unrecorded and off-shore;
That is a staggering sum of money. So staggering that it's probably grossly exaggerated and untrue.

It should also be noted that many middle class individuals cheat the government of taxes as well. When a man making $30k a year goes shopping to the States and doesn't declare his purchases fully, he's cheating the system. The problem is that reports like these seek to vilify the wealthy by citing instances of illegal activities and transgressions as if everyone else is an angel and a victim. Oxfam. What a disgusting organization this is.
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I would suggest you all read Bill Gates' letter:

http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/

And before you start bashing him, don't forget that this is a man who has dedicated his entire life and money now to philanthropy. The world is NOT getting worse, things are actually getting better. Dramatic figures and stats like these ones don't help the cause.
Kommander_KornFlakes wrote:
May 18th, 2009 12:00 pm
I make more than what 95% of people in this site makes.
Try a six-figure salary that starts with a "3" (that would be annually)
Gloaming wrote:
Nov 4th, 2008 8:43 pm
Seriously- I TRIED to ignore him. KKF is like herpes, you keep scratching in an attempt to get temporary relief, but two weeks later he comes raging back more annoying and infuriating as ever.
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Posen9 wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2014 9:49 pm

You may misunderstand me based on the earlier paragraph but I don't want rich people's pity money. I was merely using that example to say that the money can help so many people. But I want a system that is fair and just and not allow anybody to get THAT rich if there are people out there THAT poor. I don't want a system that says everybody should be equal in every way. That's as stupid as people who say boys and girls are the same. They're not. And people are not the same either. Some people can make more money or are smarter or more hardworking, and I don't see anything wrong with rewarding them. But there's a limit. It has to be fair to everybody.
So who determines who has "too much money"?
Kommander_KornFlakes wrote:
May 18th, 2009 12:00 pm
I make more than what 95% of people in this site makes.
Try a six-figure salary that starts with a "3" (that would be annually)
Gloaming wrote:
Nov 4th, 2008 8:43 pm
Seriously- I TRIED to ignore him. KKF is like herpes, you keep scratching in an attempt to get temporary relief, but two weeks later he comes raging back more annoying and infuriating as ever.
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