Here is the OXFAM’s report WORKING FOR THE FEW Political capture and economic inequality- 2014, where research found that in the World the 85 richest people own the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poor. Intolerable inequality is damaging our future generation.
In its report OXFAM summarizes that ‘‘Economic inequality is rapidly increasing in the majority of countries. The wealth of the world is divided in two: almost half going to the richest one percent; the other half to the remaining 99 percent. The World Economic Forum has identified this as a major risk to human progress. Extreme economic inequality and political capture are too often interdependent. Left unchecked, political institutions become undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites to the detriment of ordinary people. Extreme inequality is not inevitable, and it can and must be reversed quickly’’
According to the report opportunities captured by the rich and unequal political representation are a serious and worrying trend. For instance:
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
- The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
- The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
- Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
- The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
- In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer. This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems
Extreme economic inequality is damaging and worrying for many reasons: it is morally questionable; it can have negative impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction; and it can multiply social problems. It compounds other inequalities, such as those between women and men. In many countries, extreme economic inequality is worrying because of the pernicious impact that wealth concentrations can have on equal political representation.
When wealth captures government policymaking, the rules bend to favour the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else. The consequences include the erosion of democratic governance, the pulling apart of social cohesion, and the vanishing of equal opportunities for all. Unless bold political solutions are instituted to curb the influence of wealth on politics, governments will work for the interests of the rich, while economic and political inequalities continue to rise.
As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, ‘‘We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.’’
This is right time to raise the voices for fair share and humanity for sustainability.