The wealth gap just stinks

CityPress - - Voices -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.