The wealth gap just stinks
If the stark numbers released by Oxfam this week did not touch the world’s elite gathered in Davos, then nothing will. In its report, titled An Economy for the 1%, Oxfam revealed that wealth has increasingly been concentrated in the hands of a few. Among the report’s most startling figures is that the richest 62 people own as much net wealth as the world’s poorest half of the population – meaning they are as rich as 3.6 billion people at the bottom of the pecking order.
In an earlier Oxfam report, the confederation found that the collective wealth of the world’s 80 richest individuals had grown from $1.3 trillion (R21.4 trillion) to $1.9 trillion in four years – a gain of $600 billion.
This gap has been widening, and Oxfam predicted that by the end of 2016, the top 1% would own more than half of humanity’s total wealth.
Particularly disturbing is the revelation that the world’s billionaires started off from a position of wealth, as more than a third of them have inherited what they have.
This shows money follows money and the battle to do away with inequality will be an uphill one.
It does not take a genius to grasp that the status quo is unsustainable. It stinks. Much of the instability that prevails in the world today – in the form of uncontrolled migration, terrorism and global crime – can be traced back to unequal development levels.
We are aware the solution is not hidden in Marxist texts that promise an unrealistic world in which everyone is equal.
The fact that inequality will be with us for centuries to come is something we have to accept.
What we cannot accept is the prevalence of extreme inequality.
As Oxfam points out, solutions lie, inter alia, in a commitment to fair wages, capping salary gaps, closing tax loopholes and targeting development finance better. It can be done.