Monday, January 19, 2015

Richest 1% will soon own 50% of all wealth, Oxfam warns

Jan. 19, 2015

The richest one per cent of people globally are poised to own more than half of all wealth by next year, international inequality watchdog Oxfam warns in a report released today.


The group's research shows the share of wealth owned by the richest one per cent has increased from 44 per cent six years ago in 2009 to 48 per cent last year. And the uneven distribution doesn't just spike at the very end — the top 20 per cent are still doing well for themselves.


The poorest 80 per cent own just 5.5 per cent of the world's wealth. That means four-fifths of everyone in the world have an average of $3,851 US to their name.


Oxfam made headlines this time last year with a similar report, which found that the world's 85 richest people had as much wealth as the poorest 50 per cent — more than 3.5 billion people. This year, that group was even more rarified — as few as 80 people now own more than the poorest half of all humans on earth do combined.


The group's paper outlines a few policies that the global community could work towards to make a real dent in inequality. They include

Clamping down on tax dodgers by closing tax-evading loopholes that are only available to multinational corporations and extremely rich individuals
Share the global tax burden more fairly by shifting the onus of taxation away from consumption and income and on to capital and wealth.
Introduce minimum wage standards and work towards a living wage for all workers.

The report cites a few sectors in particular for being major roadblocks to inequality, by using their pre-existing power and influence to sway legislation in their favour.

The health-care and financial services industries spent almost $900 million to lobby the U.S. government for favourable legislation in 2013, and more than $200 million was spent on lobbying in the EU, Oxfam said.


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