I don’t envy the wealthy their money, but if they want to keep it, then it seems the prudent thing to do would be to help reduce the inequality gap lest their wealth be forcibly taken from them.
From Oxfam’s press release earlier this week:
In same period at least a million mothers died in childbirth due to lack of basic health services
Rising inequality could set the fight against poverty back by decades (1), Oxfam warned today as it published a new report showing that the number of billionaires worldwide has more than doubled since the financial crisis. (2)
The report, Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality, details how the richest people in the world have more money than they could ever spend while hundreds of millions live in abject poverty without essential health care or basic education.
In countries around the world, prosperity is not trickling down to ordinary people, but up to those at the top, whose exceptional wealth is growing ever more rapidly. The richest 85 people — who Oxfam revealed in January as having the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population (3) — saw their collective wealth increase by $668 million per day between 2013 and 2014. That’s almost half a million dollars every minute. (4)
- If African countries continue on their current growth trajectory with no change in levels of income inequality, then the continent's poverty rate won't fall below three percent — the World Bank's definition of ending poverty — until 2075. IMF (2014) 'Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality', IMF Policy Paper, Figure 8, Washington, D.C.: IMF, The target set by the IMF and the World Bank for ending poverty is 2030.
- In March 2009, there were 793 billionaires, according to Forbes. In March 2014 there were 1645 billionaires, according to Forbes
- Oxfam research in early 2014 found that the 85 richest individuals in the world have as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. This figure was based on the wealth of the 85 billionaires at the time of the annual Forbes report in March 2013. Working for the Few report.
- In the period March 2013 to March 2014, Oxfam found that the wealth of the 85 richest individuals in the world, as identified in the Working for the Few paper detailed in Note 3, rose again by a further 14 per cent, or $244bn. This equates to a $668m increase a day; $463,888.89 every minute. Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality report, pg. 3.
From the page on the report:
Economic inequality has reached extreme levels
From Ghana to Germany, Italy to Indonesia, the gap between rich and poor is widening. In 2013, seven out of 10 people lived in countries where economic inequality was worse than 30 years ago, and in 2014 Oxfam calculated that just 85 people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity.
Extreme inequality corrupts politics and hinders economic growth.
It exacerbates gender inequality, and causes a range of health and social problems. It stifles social mobility, keeping some families poor for generations, while others enjoy year after year of privilege. It fuels crime and even violent conflict. These corrosive consequences affect us all, but the impact is worst for the poorest people. […]
This report delves into the causes of the inequality crisis and looks at the concrete solutions that can overcome it. Drawing on case studies from around the world the report demonstrates the impact that rising inequality is having on rich and poor countries alike and explores the different ways that people and governments are responding to it. […]
More: Time to End Extreme Inequality (PDF of full report available)