‘The 62’ control more wealth than 3.5 billion people

“Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate,” a new Oxfam study finds. The Atlantic reports, The World’s Wealthiest 62 People Have as Much Money as the Poorest 3.5 Billion:

Income-InequalityWealth just keeps growing for the 62 richest people in the world. Collectively, this ultra-wealthy group controls $1.76 trillion, which is about the cumulative worth of the poorer half of the world’s population, or around 3.5 billion people. And since 2010, wealth has become more and more concentrated in favor of the richest of the rich while those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder have seen their positions worsen, according to a new report from Oxfam International.

The wealth of the richest 62 people grew by more than half a trillion dollars in that last half-decade, while the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of people globally decreased by more than $1 trillion during the same period. “Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate,” the study finds.

The Wealth of the Rich Keeps Climbing

Oxfam

There are several reasons for this growing problem according to Deborah Hardoon, Sophia Ayele, and Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva, the study’s authors. The first is the disconnect between work and earnings. The share of national income going to workers has been falling while the share of income given to owners and top executives is rising, a phenomenon that can be seen in the stagnant wage figures of workers around the world despite growing corporate profits and productivity.

Productivity Is Increasing, but Wages Aren’t

Oxfam2

Persistent patterns of wage inequality, especially among the poorest workers, can seriously damage global efforts to eradicate poverty. The study notes that between 1990 and 2010, in many developing nations, the bottom 40 percent of earners saw their wages grow more slowly than the national average. Had their wage gains simply kept pace with the national averages, 200 million fewer people would be living in extreme poverty around the world. Currently, the number of people classified as living in extreme poverty, which amounts to surviving on less than $1.90 per day, is around 700 million.

Taxes also play a pretty big role in the discrepancies, according to the report. Wealthy clients can hire financial advisors, accountants, and other pricey professionals to help them navigate the tax system, using loopholes to sock their money away in tax havens. Such efforts have helped keep nearly $8 trillion of money untaxed in offshore accounts, the study finds. Taxing that money isn’t just a matter of fairness, the report argues: The lost public revenues means less money for government programs that aid the poorest and neediest, allowing gaps in education, health care, and quality of life to persist and even grow.

To build an economy that distributes its wealth more evenly, the researchers suggest creating a stronger system of taxation that prevents trillions of dollars from being pulled out of circulation via offshore accounts and allows companies to reduce their tax liabilities via loopholes. The report also suggests that politics needs to change, diminishing the power that companies exercise through tools like lobbying and patents, which can decrease competition and raise prices.

It’s in everyone’s interest to fix the problem of economic inequality, even those who are thriving amid the increasing inequality. The study notes that prolonged periods of a widening wealth gap are bad for entire countries, as they can stunt overall economic growth. In a still-fragile global economy, that threat’s a problem for everyone, not just those suffering at the bottom.

Income inequality due to the redistribution of wealth upwards, stagnant wages due to the failure to distribute the benefits of increased productivity equally, wealth hoarding and tax avoidance by the wealthy,  tax reform and tax fairness, addressing poverty — hell, just addressing the most basic investments in the health, education and welfare of our society — and reforming our political system to reduce the power and influence of these Plutocrats should be the public policy issues that we are discussion in this 2016 campaign.

Instead we have a feckless corporate media fixated on “horse race” coverage of meaningless polls, celebrity-style coverage of the candidates, and scandal page coverage of who dissed who today on social media. Who won the 24 hours news cycle with such trivial stupidity is the only thing that the effin’ corporate media cares about.

And you wonder how we wind up with reality TV show actors like Donald Trump and Caribou Barbie of the Tundra dominating “news” coverage with stream-of-consciousness word salad idiocy.

3 responses to “‘The 62’ control more wealth than 3.5 billion people

  1. John Huppenthal

    Note that the wealth of the two lines were positively correlated until 2008, then they became negatively correlated. The problem isn’t income inequality, the problem is that 90% of African Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed and not developing the skills they need to be successful and move forward in life, 30% of eight graders have completely disconnected from school (Gallup). You can’t solve these problems by destroying or hurting job creators.

    Picketty is a fraud. By 2008, France had not created a single hour of work for the working man and woman since 1980. The US had created over 40 million new jobs by 2008.

    • Well, the “lines” to which you refer have nothing to do with the income of African Americans, most of whom are actually in neither group. Certainly, they’re not in the Forbes 62. But they’re also likely in the top half of the world by wealth, not the bottom. And even if all Black Americans were in the bottom half of the world by wealth, they’d account for less than 1% of that group.

      Further, you seem to think that positive correlation is sufficient. It’s not. If the lines move in parallel fashion, it means that the wealth of the Forbes 62 is closing in on the wealth of the 3.5 Billion in percentage terms. In order for things not to be getting more unequal, the gap between the lines, with the line for the 3.5 billion on top, should be constantly widening. Do you not grasp that conceptually?

      Piketty? The report was from Oxfam, not Piketty. And how does the underperformance of France you allege render Piketty a fraud? There’s no logic there. Moreover, if you look at the numbers closely, I believe the total number of work hours in the US (not jobs, but hours) has not budged since 1998.

      So, do you stand by your comments, or did you step in it this time?

    • John, job creators are the middle class. When they have money, they spend money. Since St Ronnie screwed the country with his trickle down nonsense the middle class has stagnated, while wealth has not just trickled up, it’s been a gusher up.

      The people you call job creators are the top .001%, who do not create jobs, they extract wealth.

      A billionaire can build a factory and “create” jobs, but if the middle class can’t buy the product, then the factory closes, and there are no jobs.

      Demand creates jobs, and middle class wealth creates demand.

      Any discussion of income/wealth and “race” that does not include a discussion of institutional racism (like racist public officials who post racist garbage online) is disingenuous at best.