[G]lobal academic, financial, business and industry leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum was held (January 21-24.) They united to discuss climate change, poverty, income equality and other issues that impact the world economy.
French President Francois Hollande, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame were among the distinguished politicians who gathered with over 1,000 of the world’s top corporate leaders.
Collectively, the attendees help to shape plans that impact societies around the world.
The numbers around the tremendous wealth inequality and growing income divide that exists on the planet were debated. The dialog was sparked by new data published by OxFam, timed to coincide with the event.
How about this stat: the wealth of the globe’s richest 80 individuals is now the same as that possessed by the bottom 50% of the earth’s human population. That means that 3.5 billion people share the same amount of money as the 80 richest people.
“Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined?” asked Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s Executive Director.
|Winnie Byanyima is the Executive Director of Oxfam, an international organization aimed at wiping out poverty and injustice.|
“The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda. The gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast,” said Byanyima, who also served as Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum.
According to Forbes, there are 1,645 people who are billionaires, with almost 500 of them residing in the United States. The biggest come ups are in the financial, insurance, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.
The collective wealth of the richest 80 individuals is now $1.9 trillion dollars. Since 2010, this male dominated group’s wealth increased by $600 billion dollars or 50% in just four years.
Warren Buffett has $58.2 billion stacked, an increase of 9%. Michael Bloomberg is sitting on $33 billion, up 22%, Carl Ichan has $24.5 billion, up 22%, and so on.
As Byanyima asserted, the gap between the rich and the poor is broadening, to say the least. Globally, over a billion men and women live on less than $1.25 each day.
Since a large mass of wealth has accumulated in the United States, Byanyima called out President Barack Obama as well as International Monetary Fund bigwig Christine Lagarde, over stagnated policies.
“In the past 12 months we have seen world leaders from President Obama to Christine Lagarde talk more about tackling extreme inequality but we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk,” Byanyima said. “It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.”
Oxfam introduced a seven-point plan the organization believes can help close the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Clamping down on tax dodging, investing in universal free health and education services and taxing all citizens fairly would help.
Also, Oxfam proposed introducing a minimum wage, equal pay for women, and more safety nets for the poor, as solutions. Finally, a worldwide goal to tackle the income inequality would help to solve a number of issues.