(ORDO NEWS) — Becoming rich is the dream of many, with hundreds of people investing in the likes of wealth management strategies so that they can live comfortably in their later years.
But unlike the humble investments and entrepreneurship that much of the world uses, according to Oxfam a small billionaire elite have manipulated tax havens and have made it harder for the rest of us to earn. Now only 62 people now own the same wealth as 3.6 billion people. That’s is half of all the inhabitants of the planet!
This is a shocking statistic that becomes even more alarming when you consider that back in 2010, this same half of all wealth belonged to 388 people.
Now 80 billionaires collectively own more than $ 2 trillion, while half of the world’s population lost $ 1 trillion of their fortune in just five years.
A report eloquently published by Oxfam International, eloquently titled “The Economy for 1%,” cites a series of staggering numbers that illustrate the struggles that have resulted from this exponential increase in wealth stratification. According to research:
“The global crisis of inequality is reaching new extremes. The richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world combined.
Power and privilege are used to distort the economic system in order to widen the gap between the obscenely rich and the rest. The global network of tax havens also allows the richest people to hide $ 7.6 trillion. The fight against poverty will not be won until the crisis of inequality is resolved.”
In just five years, the fortunes of these 62 billionaires have grown by 44% – by $ 542 billion – to a whopping $ 1.76 trillion. And, of course, the flip side of this concentration of money at the top meant that “the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars over the same period – 41%.”
Half of the world’s wealth accumulated since 2000 alone ended up in the hands of 1%, while the poorest half of the world’s population accounted for only 1% of this increase. Oxfam went on to report that in nearly 25 years, the incomes of the world’s 10% of the world’s poorest people have increased by less than one cent a day – less than $ 3 a year.
On average, every adult who belongs to the richest 1% of people on earth has a fortune of $ 1.7 million – a figure 300 times the average of 90% of people on the planet, “although for many of the poorest 10 percent their condition is zero.”
But the poverty alleviation group doesn’t stop at just listing numbers; instead, Oxfam issued a dramatic explanation of how such inequalities in wealth and income became a reality.
“Income and wealth not only do not trickle down, but are sucked up at an alarming rate. Once there, an increasingly sophisticated tax haven system and asset management industry ensure that it stays there, far from the reach of ordinary citizens and their governments. A recent estimate of $ 7.6 trillion in personal wealth – more than the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the UK and Germany – is currently held offshore […].
“Changes in economic policy over the past 30 years – including deregulation, privatization, financial secrecy and globalization, especially finance – have increased the age-old ability of the rich and powerful to use their position to further concentrate their wealth […].
“A prime example of an economic system tuned to serve the mighty interests is the global web of tax havens and the tax evasion industry that has flourished in recent decades.
“The dominant market fundamentalist worldview has given intellectual legitimacy to the idea that low taxes for rich people and companies are necessary to stimulate economic growth and are in some way good news for all of us. The system is backed by a highly paid, hardworking group of professionals in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment sectors.”
While there are legitimate arguments for abolishing taxation, in the meantime, these elites and the ultra-rich – and often their corporations – are using the system for personal gain in a way that is impossible for the rest of us.
By investing in political campaigns, think tanks, lobbying firms and other leverage, the super-rich retain the power of proxy to shape policy. Both dark money and open funding force politicians to pass laws for the elite.
As Jared Bernstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities recently observed: “There is a perception that the rich use their money to buy politicians; more precisely, they can buy policies, in particular tax policies.”
In fact, when analyzing 200 leading companies, including strategic partners of the World Economic Forum, and selecting some of the largest businesses in the world, Oxfam found that nine out of ten “have a presence in at least one tax haven” – and from just 50 large banks that manage most of the “offshore wealth”, havens are incredibly profitable.
Tax evasion, which strains the ability of world governments to fund basic social programs, including those designed to help the most vulnerable sectors of society, has been called by the International Bar Association a “violation of international human rights law.”
One important finding in the report reveals systemic pay inequalities between men and women around the world – in particular, “the acceptability of lower wages for women … is considered a key factor in increasing profitability”.
Money-hungry companies avoid taking vital fire safety and security measures to maximize their profits. The use of monopolies, intellectual property laws and industry lobbyists benefits the few at the expense of the majority.
“The current system did not come about by chance,” says the Oxfam report.
“This is the result of deliberate policy choices where our leaders listen to 1% and their supporters rather than acting in the interests of the majority. It’s time to abandon this broken economic model. ” What’s more, Oxfam argues that “humanity can do more than this, we have the talent, technology and imagination to build a much better world. We have a chance to build a more humane economy in which the interests of the majority are put first.”
The question is, will we do it?
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