Super-rich could end poverty 'four times over'
by Daniel Mason
The incomes of the 100 wealthiest people in society last year could end poverty four times over, according to a report published by Oxfam – a situation described by the charity as having devastating economic, political, social and environmental impacts.
The study, released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos next week, shows that the incomes of the richest 1 per cent have soared by 60 per cent over the last 20 years, and adds that the trend has accelerated in the wake of the financial crisis.
In 2012 the richest 100 billionaires earned a net income of $240bn, or £150bn, which Oxfam said was "enough to make extreme poverty history four times over". It warned: "Extreme wealth is economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive, and environment destructive". The report also notes that the richest 1 per cent used as much as 10,000 times more carbon than the average American citizen.
"We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true," said Oxfam's chief executive Barbara Stocking. "Concentration of resources in the hands of the top 1 per cent depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else – particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
"In a world where even basic resources such as land and water are increasingly scarce, we cannot afford to concentrate assets in the hands of a few and leave the many to struggle over what's left."
To tackle growing inequality, Oxfam recommended that world leaders should close tax havens, reverse the trend towards regressive taxation, introduce a global minimum corporation tax rate, take measures to boost wages, and increase investment in public services and welfare safety nets.
Statistics and ratios like these are striking, but ultimately meaningless. The problem is you can pour vast sums of money into regions where it is needed (say with Africa and Live Aid) and too much of it can go straight into the pockets of the wrong people.
You do nothing for poverty and only feed more corruption. If you don't believe me, read about how Pakistani politician Imran Khan asked countries to stop giving aid to Pakistan.
Lavinia - Scotland