The gap between the super-rich and the rest of the world has never been wider, with 26 people now owning the same amount of wealth as 3.8 billion of the less privileged, global charity Oxfam said in a new report.
The new report, titled “Public Good or Private Wealth,” sheds light on the continued accumulation of wealth by the richest, as well as the reverse trend for the poorest half of the word, which grew some 11 percent poorer last year.
During the same period, the assets of those at the top of the wealth pyramid, the billionaires, have skyrocketed, increasing by $900 billion in 2018, or by a whopping $2.5 billion a day. Between 2017 and 2018, a new billionaire was created every two days, the report says.
In comparison to the previous year, when 43 people owned about the same as the poorer half of the world, in 2018 it took only 26 billionaires to match the wealth of 3.8 billion people.
All in all, the financial world has fully recuperated from the devastating economic crisis of 2008, with the number of billionaires having nearly doubled since then, the report says.
Oxfam published its annual report on Monday, ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, known as an invitation-only club of super rich and powerful, notorious for lavish parties occasionally thrown by the attendees.
The charity argued that the only feasible way to tackle soaring inequality is to raise taxes for the rich. It says that increasing the tax burden on the top one percent by just half a percent would cover educational costs for 262 million children and provide healthcare to save the lives of 3.3 million people.
Some billionaires engage in philanthropy and charity work – one such example is Bill Gates, who gives away money in the hope of eradicating poverty – others seem to assume little responsibility for the world’s increasingly alarming future. The Oxfam report picks on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man with an estimated fortune of $112 billion, who once said that he sees no better way to dispose of his tremendous wealth than to fund space travel.
While his admission might have excited space enthusiasts, it also sparked outrage, strengthening the case for more taxes for the rich.
Oxfam says the impression that the wealthiest one percent don’t give back enough to the community is justified, as they are indeed paying less and less.
“In rich countries, the average top rate of personal income tax fell from 62% in 1970 to 38% in 2013,” the report says, while in the developing countries it stands at 28 percent on average.
Another problem is the super-rich dodging taxes, which costs governments some $7.6 trillion. The growing income gap particularly affects women, who earn 23 percent less than men globally, according to the report.
“People across the globe are angry and frustrated. Governments must now deliver real change by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and investing this money in free healthcare and education that meets the needs of everyone,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said.
“The size of your bank account should not dictate how many years your children spend in school, or how long you live – yet this is the reality in too many countries across the globe,” she added.