Wealth disparity will be a focus of a global forum

01/21/2014 11:37 AM

01/21/2014 7:42 PM

The growing wealth gap is an unsustainable global problem. Oxfam reports that the richest 1 percent of the world’s population controls nearly half of the planet’s wealth.

“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,” said the report by Oxfam, an international group working to find solutions to poverty and other injustices. “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 favor 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.”

We see that occurring in the United States. The report also found:

• The wealth of the top 1 percent is $110 trillion — 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 1 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 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

Added to that is the United Nation’s labor agency reports that the number of unemployed people rose above 200 million last year. Jobs didn’t keep pace with the growing global workforce.

These will be details people will have to discuss at the World Economic Forum starting Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, and hopefully they will do something to correct the planet’s growing wealth inequity.

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