Last Friday, I mentioned a recent survey that found over half of USians reported having have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined and nearly a quarter reported having less than $100.
On Sunday, Oxfam released an analysis detailing that just 62 individuals, most of whom are men, "have as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity."
The wealth of the richest 62 has increased an astonishing 44 percent since 2010, to $1.76 trillion. Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half of the world dropped by 41 percent.This extraordinary level of global wealth concentration is utterly obscene.
"This is terrible," Gawain Kripke, Oxfam's Policy Director, told The Huffington Post. "No one credible will say this is good for the world or good for the economy."
While the wealthy might argue that their rising wealth is just a fabulous sign of economic prosperity (the "you're just jealous" rationale), the disproportionate growth at the top is keeping those on the bottom from climbing out of poverty, Oxfam notes in its report.
"It is unjust that people living in poverty are not getting the boost to their incomes that they desperately need, while already privileged capital owners receive a greater share of income and wealth," the report says.
...Oxfam's report also points a finger at tax dodging and urges governments worldwide to get a handle on tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and corporations.
"It's a significant loss to governments," Kripke said. The rich use exotic strategies to park money so that it's invisible and inaccessible to governments, who could redistribute those dollars to their citizens, he said. "We need reform on this."
I've made it abundantly clear how I feel about bootstraps arguments made by privileged dirtbags who refuse to acknowledge their privilege—who insist on claiming that they earned and deserve everything they got through hard work, as though the people who work in service jobs to facilitate their lives of luxury don't work hard themselves.
But surely, surely, even the people who make this reprehensible argument cannot choke out the incredible claim that 62 people work harder than half of the entire world. Or even that their work is more important, more inherently valuable, than the work of the population of half of the entire world.
No one can possibly believe this. Especially when the accumulated wealth of those 62 people was largely earned not by their own labor, but by exploiting other people's labor.
Labor, by the way, that is devalued, both financially and philosophically, especially to the people who do it, when they're not laboring for their own security and self-sufficiency, but to make already grotesquely wealthy people even more wealthy.
This gross upwards redistribution of wealth to 62 people steals from workers not only their earnings and their safety, but their dignity.
It's economic injustice in the absolute extreme. And the more concentrated wealth gets, the more the holders of that wealth will just suck up even more like a giant vacuum. The only thing that will trickle down to the rest of us is the smell of dust.