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World’s 85 Richest Have the Same Wealth as 3.5 Billion Poorest

All for money?!

The combined wealth of the world’s richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world’s population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam.

According to the report, 210 people have become billionaires in the past year, joining a select group of 1,426 individuals with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.

The wealth of the richest one percent of people in the world now amounts to $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

“This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems,” the report said.

The report exposes the “pernicious impact” of growing inequality that helps “the richest undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promote their interests at the expense of everyone else”, the statement said.

Inequality has recently emerged as a major concern in countries around the world, with US President Obama prioritising a push to narrow the wealth gap in his second term.

In China, the new government there has cracked down on the elite perks and privileges and Germany seems set to adopt a minimum wage.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which organises the Davos talkfest, warned last week that the growing gulf between the rich and the poor represents the biggest global risk in 2014.

“The chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade,” the WEF said.

But many of the corporate giants and world leaders set to confer at Davos, a posh ski resort tucked on the eastern reaches of Switzerland near Liechtenstein, are implicitly pointed at by Oxfam.

“Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority,” Oxfam said.

WEF however has decided to put the inequality theme up front during the five-day event with closed doors seminars and public key talks scheduled to mull over the hot-button issue.

In the forefront will be  Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Sydney has just taken on the G20 presidency, and in a speech on Thursday Abbot should tackle the rich and poor gap issue, with the fight against tax havens and evasion firmly on target.

In the report, Oxfam said that “since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it.”

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2 comments

  1. Some things certainly speak for themselves and are eerily reminiscent of what the Book of Revelations has to say regarding the inequalities and injustices of future eras.

    Yet I don’t know how effective such seminars on wealth and poverty are in solving such a problem which goes to the very grassroots of an economic ideology that politicians, civil servants, banks, financial institutions and major corporations and half of the so-called global organisations have been imposing upon the people of the world with their globalism and “free-markets” etc. Such talkfests are just mere window dressing to placate people in falsely believing that something is actually being done when its not.

    Anyway, study for yourselves the facts and see what conclusions you come to.

    In any case I pose a series of questions that I suggest should be considered:
    Who is actually convening and running all these international events and the institutions of things like the UN, World Health Organisation, IMF etc?

    What’s the real agenda, and not what is publicly said in the media?

    If anyone can answer this, they would have the attention of the majority of people upon this earth who are seeking answers to these crises that have been engineered, and would also help identify a real solution!

  2. The Global Elite is Insane

    By Robert J. Burrowes (06.02.2014)

    In a recent report titled ‘Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality’ Oxfam informs us that ‘Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population’. Their report goes on to recommend that the World Economic Forum http://www.weforum.org/, an elite gathering held annually in Davos, Switzerland, take economic and political measures to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.

    And in his explanation of why he attended the recent Forum in Davos, Kumi Naidoo, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International tells us ‘If we manage to shift the consciousness of one CEO or senior political leader, who may do the same with a couple of his peers, then I think it is worth it. It is also worth being there, listening and observing, understanding some of the forces that shape our world and importantly feeding that information back to the rest of Greenpeace and other civil society allies.

    ‘As anyone who pays even the slightest realistic attention to the global elite already knows, the elite’s efforts to maximise its political and economic clout, and hence its wealth, at the expense of everyone else and the Earth itself, are carefully crafted. And this is not going to change on our recommendation or because we talk to them, or even because we listen to them. Moreover, the reason is simple.

    The global elite is insane. And it is incredibly violent.

    I would like to illustrate this insanity and violence briefly, explain what I mean by ‘insane’ and then outline a strategy to resist it.

    In a video statement in 2012, the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, called for Australian workers to be paid $A2 per day in a national economy where the current legal minimum wage is $A124 per day for a full-time adult worker. But Rinehart is not alone in advocating or, indeed, implementing such policies. Slave ‘wages’ are a common occurrence all over the world as most factory workers, particularly those employed by the world’s largest corporations in Africa, Asia and Central/South America, can readily testify.

    We also know that 50,000 people (85% of them children) die in Africa, Asia and Central/South America each and every day essentially because they do not have enough to eat: http://starvation.net/ This is a death rate that results in a cumulative death total that dwarfs both the death rate and the total number of deaths in all war throughout human history. Incredibly, even the number of deaths on 6 and 9 August 1945, when nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulted in less than 50,000 individual deaths for each of these two days (and each of those subsequent). Apart from this, we know that about one billion people around the world go to bed in a semi-starved condition each night. Moreover, we know that the global elite takes deliberate measures to maintain and exacerbate this cruel state of affairs by planning and working to implement such atrociously unjust economic arrangements as those outlined in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) on top of the already highly damaging economic structures and relationships of capitalism.

    How do you feel when you read these facts? If you are like me, you are horrified at the thought that you might starve yourself, you empathise deeply with those who suffer this fate and you make some effort to ameliorate it or change it (ranging from giving a donation, preferably to an organisation with more political savvy than Oxfam and Greenpeace, to campaigning to resist implementation of the TPP and TAFTA). You do this because you feel empathy, sympathy and compassion. You do this because you perceive the injustice and you want to take some action, at least, to change it. You identify with your fellow human beings who are suffering.

    Insanity is widely understood to refer to a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behaviour or social interaction; it describes someone who is considered to be seriously mentally ill.

    Do you believe that individual members of the global elite share your perception (which is shaped by your empathy, sympathy and compassion)? Who is normal: you or them? Are individual members of the global elite behaving and interacting as you would? Do they share your conception of what a desirable human community – with its basis in such values as love, solidarity, equity, justice and sustainability – might look like?

    It is clear to me that, as a result of the violence they each suffered as a child, we can readily conclude that each individual within the global elite falls within the definition of ‘insane’: someone who is incapable of ‘normal perception, behaviour and social interaction’, someone who is incapable of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy. And this is why they do not join efforts to restructure the global economy to ensure distributive justice for all and disburse their personal wealth to those most in need as a measure of their commitment to the creation of a humane world based on equity, justice and sustainability.

    So how did this insanity occur? In essence, these individuals suffered an extraordinary level of terror and violence during childhood leaving them particularly badly emotionally damaged. See ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence Specifically, for example, two central psychological characteristics of these individuals are that they are terrified and self-hating but, because they unconsciously suppress their awareness of this terror and self-hatred (because it is too painful to feel), they project it as fear of and hatred for ‘legitimised’ victim groups, including working people and ‘poor’ people in Africa, Asia and Central/South America. Because of the violence they suffered as children, these individuals never developed a conscience, they never developed the capacity to love, and they never developed the emotional responses of compassion, empathy and sympathy. And this is why they do not care.

    It takes persistent violence inflicted throughout childhood to destroy an individual’s innate capacity to develop love, compassion, empathy and sympathy. Tragically, any member of the global elite, as well as any of their paid agents in the professional class (the political lackeys who generate the delinquent legislative frameworks that facilitate the exploitation of ordinary people, the business executives who undertake the daily management of this exploitation, the academics who justify it, the judges and lawyers who defend it and repress its opponents, and the media personnel who obscure the truth about it), has suffered this degree of violence, or very close to it, throughout their childhood.

    And this is why these individuals are incapable of understanding that hoarded money and resources cannot provide them with security, particularly in the world that is coming. They are incapable of understanding that true security is the result of cooperative human relationships and a cooperative relationship between humans and the natural world.

    Resisting Elite Violence Strategically
    So how do we strategically resist the insanity and violence of the global elite? How do we replace elite-controlled structures with ones that meet the needs of all human beings as well as the planet and other species? And how do we do all of this within a timeframe in which the Earth’s ecological limits are not fundamentally breached?

    To do all of these things, we need an integrated strategy that tackles the fundamental cause of violence while tackling all of its symptoms simultaneously. This strategy has four primary elements.

    First, and most importantly, we must review our child-raising practices to exclude all types of violence (including those I have labelled ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’) so that we no longer create insane individuals and perpetrators of violence. See ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’ Let us create people of conscience, people of courage, people who care.

    Second, we must non-cooperate, in a strategic manner, with elite-controlled structures and processes while simultaneously creating alternative, local structures that allow us to self-reliantly meet our own needs in an ecologically sustainable manner. Anita McKone and I have mapped out a fifteen-year strategy for doing this in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ http://tinyurl.com/flametree

    Third, we must keep planning and implementing sophisticated campaigns of nonviolent resistance to prevent/halt wars, end economic exploitation and save threatened ecosystems, as well as strategies of nonviolent defense to liberate Palestinians, Tibetans and other oppressed populations in those circumstances in which elite violence must be directly confronted (see Robert J. Burrowes The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 and Gene Sharp The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973).

    And fourth, we must courageously pay the price of violent elite repression when we resist nonviolently, knowing that many of us are going to be imprisoned (sometimes as ‘psychiatric’ patients), some of us will be tortured and a great many of us will be killed.

    In summary, if we are to effectively resist the elite’s violence in our lives and take concrete steps to create our nonviolent world community, then we must recognise that individual members of the global elite are insane and cannot take responsibility for ending their violence. Instead, we must take responsibility for ending their violence while creating a world in which damaged individuals are unlikely to be created and, if they are created, they cannot wreak havoc on the rest of us.

    If you would like to consider publicly committing yourself to helping to make this nonviolent world a reality, you can read (and, if you wish, sign online) ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’

    Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and
    ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an
    effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a
    nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’
    http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is fl[email protected]
    and his website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com

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