The report states:
* Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
* The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 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 one 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 one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
Asserting that some economic inequality is necessary to foster growth, it also warns that extreme levels of wealth concentration “threaten to exclude hundreds of millions of people from realizing the benefits of their talents and hard work.”
Additionally, the report says that high levels of wealth concentration can harm democracy and reduce equal opportunity, as the wealthy begin to have an undue influence on government policy making:
When wealth captures government policy making, the rules bend to favour the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else.
Oxfam also conducted polls in six countries — Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. — showing that a majority of people believe “laws are skewed in favour of the rich” in areas ranging from financial deregulation, tax laws favouring the wealthy and facilitation tax evasion, austerity economics, policies that disproportionately harm women, and oil and mineral revenues.
The report states that the trend can be reversed, as it has at other times in history, such as in the U.S. and Europe after World War II and in Latin America in the last decade.
Oxfam calls on the leaders at the World Economic Forum to not dodge taxes in their countries or countries where they invest and operate, not use their economic wealth to seek political favours, and support progressive taxation on wealth and income, among other things.
It also quotes Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, ‘We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.’
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