A report from Oxfam International shows eight men own as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world. Oxfam says new data from India and China suggests previous estimates of global wealth concentration credited the poorest half of the world with too much wealth.
The report is timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the richest people in the world gather to scheme on how to get even richer. Looks like their plans are working out.
The world’s 8 richest people are (in order of net worth):
1. Bill Gates: America founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion)
2. Amancio Ortega: Spanish founder of Inditex which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion)
3. Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion)
4. Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican owner of Grupo Carso (net worth $50 billion)
5. Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth $45.2 billion)
6. Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion)
7. Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle (net worth $43.6 billion)
8. Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth $40 billion)
Oxfam estimates, if current wealth concentration trends continue, the world could see its first trillionaire in 25 years.
Currently, one in 10 people live on less than $2 a day, with seven out of 10 people living in a country that has seen a rise in inequality in the last 30 years.
When it comes to causes for increasing economic inequality, Oxfam points to corporate malfeasance and irresponsibility as the culprit, saying, “In order to maximize returns to their wealthy shareholders, big corporations are dodging taxes, driving down wages for their workers and the prices paid to producers, and investing less in their business.”
That analysis echoes numerous other studies that show the global neoliberal economic system empowers corporations to undermine tax laws and underpay workers while simultaneously allowing corporate managers to siphon off funds that should go towards more productive use.
Oxfam recommends “accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women’s rights, and a strong system of fair taxation” as a way to create a “more human economy.”
The results are in. With increased corporate power comes increased economic inequality, human exploitation, and environmental destruction. That is not a story told too often in the mainstream media.
I’ll let you guess why.