Profits of World's 100 Wealthiest Could End Poverty Four Times Over: Report

Oxfam report shows how extreme global inequality 'hurts us all'
Jon Queally, staff writer
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/21-0
Common Dreams
January 21, 2013

 

The profits of the world's one hundred most wealthy
individuals last year would be enough to wipe out world
poverty, says a new report. And not just once over, or twice
over, but the vast amount of money that has flowed to the top
of the world's financial food chain would be enough to
eradicate the worst kind of poverty a full four times over.
 
Such an explosion in extreme wealth and income inequality
represented by these numbers is exacerbating and hindering
the world’s ability to tackle poverty, warns international
aid group Oxfam International in a new analysis published
ahead of the World Economic Forum starting in Davos this
week.
 
According to the report, ‘The cost of inequality: how wealth
and income extremes hurt us all,’ the $240 billion net income
in 2012 of the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to
eliminate extreme poverty four times over. In releasing the
report, Oxfam is calling on world leaders to curb today’s
income extremes and commit to bringing back inequality levels
to at least those experienced in the early 1990's.
 
"Concentration of resources in the hands of the top one per
cent depresses economic activity and makes life harder for
everyone else - particularly those at the bottom of the
economic ladder," said Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam's executive
director.
 
"We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a
few will inevitably benefit the many - too often the reverse
is true," he said. "In a world where even basic resources
such as land and water are increasingly scarce, we cannot
afford to concentrate assets in the hands of a few and leave
the many to struggle over what’s left."
 
"From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit
from a global economic system which is rigged in their
favour. It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it
works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a
global elite."
 
In addition, Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's chief executive, says
the world's extremity of wealth inequality is "economically
inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive and
environmentally destructive".
 
Oxfam is calling for a 'new global deal' which would
stabilize the world's economic systems and bring equality
back in way that would benefit all humanity.
 
"From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit
from a global economic system which is rigged in their
favour. It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it
works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a
global elite."
 
The group estimates that closing tax havens - which hold as
 much as $32 trillion or a third of all global wealth - could
 yield an additional $189bn in additional tax revenues. In
 addition to a tax haven crackdown, elements of the "global
 new deal" Oxfam envisions would include: a reversal of the
 trend towards more regressive forms of taxation; a global
 minimum corporation tax rate; measures to boost wages
 compared with returns available to capital; increased
 investment in free public services and safety nets.
 
According to Al-Jazeera:
 
The group says that the world's richest one percent have seen
their income increase by 60 percent in the last 20 years,
with the latest world financial crisis only serving to
hasten, rather than hinder, the process.
 
"We sometimes talk about the 'have-nots' and the 'haves' -
well, we're talking about the 'have-lots'. [...] We're anti-
poverty agency. We focus on poverty, we work with the poorest
people around the world. You don't normally hear us talking
about wealth. But it's gotten so out of control between rich
and poor that one of the obstacles to solving extreme poverty
is now extreme wealth," Ben Phillips, a campaign director at
Oxfam, told Al Jazeera.
 
January 23, 2013