The 80 richest people in the world are already worth as much as the poorest half of the planet, a new study from anti-poverty group Oxfam says. Their wealth has doubled since 2009, which was the last year of the Great Recession.
And by next year the richest 1 percent of our planet's human inhabitants will control more wealth than the rest of the 99 percent of us, the organization said in a study released today. Just to think, American revolutionaries battled against British monarchy and aristocracy for this?
Los Angeles is one of those places where clusters of billionaires—hello, Elon Musk!—have dropped anchor only to help create one of America's greatest urban divides between rich and poor.
One of our more prominent high-wealth individuals even got a mention in the Oxfam research paper, titled Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More:
Magnate Patrick Shoon-Shiong, whom Forbes calls “the richest doctor who ever lived,” is part of an industry, pharmaceutical and healthcare, whose backers and billionaires saw the greatest increase [by percentage] in wealth, the paper found.
That group's net worth increased by $80 billion dollars, or 47 percent, from 2013 to 2014, Oxfam said.
(To be fair to Shoon-Shiong, he's been generous with his cash in L.A. He put up a $100 million guarantee to help build the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook).
The biggest winners in the report were from the finance and insurance sector, the members of which saw a $150 billion gain year-over-year, the study found. Members of that sector include the likes of Warren Buffet (worth a reported $53,5 billion) and Michael Bloomberg ($27 billion).
The two sectors above, finance/insurance and pharmaceuticals/healthcare, spent nearly $1 billion lobbying governments, often for tax breaks and favorable budget appropriations, Oxfam found:
While corporations from the finance and insurance sectors spend their resources on lobbying to pursue their own interests, and as a result go on to increase their profits and the associated wealth of those individuals involved in the sector, ordinary people continue to pay the price of the global financial crisis.
How much did you spend on lobbying your own government? Yeah, thought so.
The organization recommends that we, the people, stand up and equalize things: “Make governments work for citizens,” the group says. “Promote women's economic equality,” it says. “Pay workers a living wage.” “Share the tax burden fairly.” “Close international tax loopholes.”
There's more. (Read the whole report here).
These ideas will no doubt be spun by some politicians (claiming to represent the working men and women of America) as socialist. But look where our policies toward the ultra-rich have gotten us so far.
Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, chief executive officer of E.L. Rothschild and chairman of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, says:
Oxfam’s report is just the latest evidence that inequality has reached shocking extremes, and continues to grow. It is time for the global leaders of modern capitalism, in addition to our politicians, to work to change the system to make it more inclusive, more equitable and more sustainable.
Extreme inequality isn't just a moral wrong. It undermines economic growth and it threatens the private sector's bottom line.