January 20, 2014.
A family in Democratic Republic of Congo, the world's poorest country.
Global inequality has increased to the extent that the £1 trillion combined wealth of the world’s 85 richest people is equal to that of the poorest 3.5 billion – half of the world’s population – according to a new report from charity Oxfam.
The report, entitled Working For The Few, claims that growing inequality has been driven by a “power grab” by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was the world’s poorest country in 2013, with an average annual income of $236, while the world’s richest man, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is worth $78.5 billion (£47.8bn).
Oxfam called on attendees at this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF), which brings together politicians and business leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, to take a pledge to tackle the problem by refraining from dodging taxes or using their wealth to seek political favours.
Polling for the report found people in countries around the world – including two-thirds of those questioned in Britain – believe that the rich have too much influence over the direction their country is heading.
Oxfam chief executive Winnie Byanyima said: “It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population – that’s three and a half billion people – own no more than a tiny elite who could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus.
Read the rest here.
*****Comment: This is a "staggering" statistic no doubt. It is, however, somewhat ironic that Oxfam then appeals to a mechanism of the rich - the WEF - to get them and their cronies to act more fairly.
Justice in my thinking will require a much more radical approach.
The problem is capitalism.