Richest 1% Set To Own Over Half Of World’s Wealth
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) January 19, 2015
Oxfam has put out a fortuitously timed report on global wealth inequality just as the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland gets underway. Then again, maybe Oxfam knew exactly what it was doing given that Davos is essentially an open conspiracy of the global 1% meeting and planning on how to rule the world.
Regardless of the timing, the content of the report provides further evidence that the richest have gotten even richer with the 80 richest people in the world having as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion people. Why not simply call them kings? Especially given that many of them inherited the wealth and certainly their descendents will inherit their economic and subsequent political power.
The term neo-feudalism, previously a word for jest, is now simply an accurate description of the world economic and political system.
Drill down the numbers even more and you’ll learn that the 80 wealthiest people in the world possess $1.9 trillion, which is almost the same amount shared by some 3.5 billion people at the bottom half of the world’s income scale. Thirty-five of the lucky 80 were Americans with a combined wealth of $941 billion. Germany and Russia shared second place, with seven uber-rich individuals apiece.
Not surprisingly, the richest were titans in the finance, health care, insurance, retail, tech and extractives (oil, gas) industries, and they paid fortunes to lobbyists to maintain or increase their riches. Seventy of the world’s wealthiest were men. And 11 members of the elite 80 simply inherited their wealth.
Given the existing dynamics, by 2016 it is estimated that the global 1% will own more of the planet’s wealth than the bottom 99%. And that wealth will allow plutocrats to buy tremendous political influence to secure and expand that wealth, as it already has. Make no mistake the global 1% did not get to where they are through merit, politics gave them their position as the bailouts that accompanied the 2008 financial crisis showed in all its nakedness – political power and economic power feed on one another.
But can this increasing wealth concentration go on forever? It is certainly not compatible with democracy and a free society. Then again, this isn’t much of a democracy any longer and as we learn more and more everyday “freedom” under the law means less and less.