Oxfam Drops Scathing Report As The World's Elite Descend on Davos
Just as the World Economic Forum kicks off this week in Davos, Switzerland—where 2,000 guests, including more than 100 billionaires, will descend on the ritzy ski resort via private jets to discuss climate change and wealth inequality over $43 hot dogs, Oxfam released a scathing report on global wealth inequality.
Oxfam, which is a confederation of 19 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, released its Time To Care report, warning that the current level of wealth concentration is not sustainable and that the number of billionaires is a sign of "economic sickness, not health."
While the issue of global wealth inequality is well known, the statistics pointed out in the report are truly staggering. The world's billionaires—2,153 of them, have more combined wealth than 4.6 billion people. Narrowing the concentration down to the world's wealthiest 1% shows they hold more combined wealth than 6.9 billion people. For context, the global population is currently estimated to be close to 7.8 billion people, with nearly half of them living on $5.50 per day, according to the World Bank.
Oxfam provided some interesting examples to show how wide the inequality gap has grown. If you saved $10,000 a day since the pyramids in Egypt were built, you would have one-fifth the average fortune of the world's five-wealthiest people. If everyone piled up their wealth in $100 bills and sat on them, most of the world's population would be sitting on the floor. A middle-class person in a developed country would be sitting at the height of a chair, while the world’s two-wealthiest people would be sitting in outer space.
While timing the report's release with the start of the WEF, Oxfam a took shot at the world's elite who are attending the event, saying "most world leaders are still pursuing policy agendas that drive a greater gap between the haves and the have nots." Oxfam points out the increasing prevalence of protests against inequality as a result of their policies.
Oxfam continued its assault on billionaires, who are the beneficiaries of the "broken economy," even pointing out that Bill Gates is worth twice as much as he was when he left Microsoft. The report notes that an estimated one-third of global billionaires inherited their wealth and thanks to "highly paid accountants," have created a new aristocracy that undermines democracy.
Oxfam's proposals to end extreme wealth inequality don't include anything that hasn't already been proposed. They suggest taxing wealth and high incomes, as well as cracking down on loopholes such as global tax rules that enable the world's wealthiest to "escape their tax responsibilities."
While Oxfam's report doesn't reveal anything that hasn't already been revealed—as well as suggest solutions that haven't already been suggested, it's commendable of them to release such a scathing report as the world's elite flock to Davos. Unfortunately, with the WEF now celebrating its 50th anniversary, it's highly unlikely the event's attendees will start paying much attention to these issues now.
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