The gap between rich and poor is far greater than had previously been estimated, with big business and the super-rich fueling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages, and using their power to influence politics.
According to Oxfam’s new report ahead of the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. It is time for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.
Public anger with inequality is already creating political shockwaves around the globe, as seen recently with the election of Donald Trump here in the US, and Brexit in the UK. But rather than moving forward with a constructive vision to unrig the rules, we are seeing dangerous, often xenophobic approaches, which blame inequality on the very people who bear its greatest burdens and empowers special interests to rig the rules even more.
Inequality is a daily reality for millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, which is part of a global trend that has seen the wealthy profit from an unfair political system as everyone else is left behind. In the US, the 1% control 42% of wealth. Between 1988 and 2011 the poorest 10% of Americans saw their incomes grow by an average $427 while the richest 10% saw their income increase by $13,490 on average.
From Nigeria to Bangladesh, from the UK to Brazil, people are fed up with feeling ignored by their political leaders and millions are mobilizing to push for change. Seven out of 10 people live in a country that has seen a rise in inequality in the last 30 years. Between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest 10 percent increased by just $65, while the incomes of the richest 1 percent grew by $11,800 – 182 times as much.
But instead of attacking such dramatic inequalities, President-elect Trump and some in Congress seem to want to respond to the outcry by giving massive tax cuts to the rich, dismantling protections for workers, and punishing refugees and immigrants. It is concerning that to lead the agencies that protect workers, the environment, and human rights, President-elect Trump has nominated individuals who have spent their careers attacking the rules, undermining protections, and resisting progress.
Together we must demand that world leaders, including President-elect Trump and Congress take urgent action to reduce inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth. We are calling on them to:
- Stop offshore tax dodging which costs the US and developing countries more than $100 billion each year.
- Raise the minimum wage so that working families can make a living wage.
- Fight discrimination of all kinds and ensure equal pay for equal work.
- Build and invest in a social safety net for everyone.
- Ensure every person has access to affordable, high quality healthcare and education