Oxfam have released a report which indicates that the gap in income inequality grew in 2017, with the rich getting richer and the poorer witnessing no change in wealth. The advocacy group suggest that tax evasions, cost cutting and diminished workers rights meant that the super-rich were able to reap 82 percent of its wealth last year. Why? Oxfam state that the global economy value wealth over work.
The briefing summary reads, “Last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, one more every two days. Billionaires saw their wealth increase by $762bn in 12 months. This huge increase could have ended global extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all wealth created in the last year went to the top 1%, while the bottom 50% saw no increase at all. Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men. Governments must create a more equal society by prioritizing ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful.”
Their executive summary includes the subheading “Stop Talking And Give The People What They Want: A More Equal World.” They stress that it is “actions, not words,” that count and argue that most leaders are failing to tackle inequality. “The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International.
Oxfam’s report is based on data from Forbes and the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth databook. Their figures have been criticised as it means that students with high debts, but with high future earning potential would be considered poor under the criteria used. However, the organisation stated that even if the the figures were recalculated to exclude students in debt, their combined wealth would still be equal to that of 128 billionaires.
Mark Littlewood, director general at free market think tank The Institute of Economic Affairs, said Oxfam was becoming “obsessed with the rich rather than the poor”. He also added, “Higher taxes and redistribution will do nothing to help the poor; wealth is not a fixed pie. Richer people are also highly taxed people – reducing their wealth won’t lead to redistribution, it will destroy it to the benefit of no one.” Sam Dimitru, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute also criticised the charity. He said that the stats “always paint the wrong picture”. He also pointed out that “in reality, global inequality has fallen massively over the past few decades.
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