#WEF2017: 8 men own the same as 3.6bn

Jan 17, 2017, 00:23
#WEF2017: 8 men own the same as 3.6bn

Oxfam's report indicates that inequality in wealth distribution has increased significantly since past year when it had said that 62 of the world's richest people own half its wealth.

REUTERS/Carlos BarriaA homeless woman sits on a bench few blocks away from the White House in downtown Washington, September 1, 2015.

Oxfam Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said Australia had not escaped the trend, with an Oxfam analysis showing the country's richest two billionaires, who are worth Dollars $16.1 billion (AUD $21.6) between them, own more than the poorest 20 per cent of the population.

As the world's elite gather for their annual worldwide gabfest in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, Oxfam's timely report is a good reminder that global wealth is dangerously concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable and filthy rich few.

The report, An Economy for the 99%, discovered that the 8 richest men in the world, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, have a net combined worth of $426 billion which is equal to the combined wealth of 3.6 billion people.

Oxfam used Forbes' billionaires list that was last published in March 2016 to make its headline claim.

Obscenely rich, if a new report by Oxfam, an worldwide confederation of charitable organisations, is to be believed.

That's a stunning change from just three years ago, when Oxfam found that 85 people carried that much wealth.

New research released today by Oxfam shows that the richest one percent of New Zealanders hold 20 percent of the country's total wealth, while 90 percent of the population account for less than half the nation's wealth. "The fact that a super-rich elite are able to prosper at the expense of the rest of us at home and overseas shows how warped our economy has become".

The richest men - including Bill Gates, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - have the same amount of money as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world.

"From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo", the report said. During the next two decades, 500 people will leave $2.1 trillion in wealth to their heirs, or more than the GDP of India. "This wouldn't just be the right thing to do, a more fair economy would also be simple common sense and enormously popular with New Zealanders", she said. We've got a situation where billionaires are paying (proportionally) less tax often than their cleaner or their secretary.

Oxfam urged an increase in tax rates for "rich individuals and corporations", adding that tax evasion is a critical issue. "But we're also seeing that this extreme concentration of wealth is undermining democracy".

In the United States, by contrast, billionaires have frequently chosen to cash out of their businesses, and their wealth has not lasted so long.

"An obvious immediate solution to this growing inequality would be to more fairly tax wealth, rather than income, and use the revenue to better fund health, education and housing".

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