The richest one per cent of the world’s population will have more wealth next year than the other 99 per cent combined, according to a report issued by Oxfam.
The report shows that, far from moderating or reversing, the pace at which the global financial oligarchy is monopolising society’s wealth is increasing.
The report observes that while the wealth of the world’s 80 richest people doubled between 2009 and 2014, the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population (3.5 billion people) was lower in 2014 than it was in 2009.
In 2010, it took 388 billionaires to match the wealth of the bottom half of the earth’s population; by 2013, the figure had fallen to just 92 billionaires.
It fell to 80 in 2014.
Oxfam timed the release of its report to coincide with the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The growth of social inequality documented in the report is the consequence of policies enacted by the ruling class in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which a significant share of this year’s Davos participants helped trigger.
Governments responded to the collapse of asset values and the insolvency of major banks by pumping some US $12 trillion into the financial markets by means of bank bailouts, near-zero interest rates, and central bank money-printing (quantitative easing).
This virtually free cash was used to drive up the world’s stock markets and corporate profits to record highs.
The same governments and central banks pursued brutal austerity policies against the working class, driving tens of millions into poverty.
The day the Oxfam report appeared, bankers and speculators around the world were rubbing their hands in anticipation of an expansion of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank at its policy-setting meeting this week.
In a reflection of the parasitism that has become embedded in the world capitalist system, the financial and insurance sector minted more billionaires than any other industry.
The attempt to present the gathering at Davos as a forum for addressing social inequality takes on an absurd and grotesque character.
The warnings about the growth of inequality are rooted in fears within the financial aristocracy that the ever more obvious and repulsive gap between the super-rich and everyone else will have revolutionary consequences.
I warmly salute this straight-talking Archbishop of Canterbury, a practical Christian with a forthright message. Trying desperately not to enter into party politics, his thoughts were arresting, stating that “inequality is getting worse in Britain despite the recovery”.
He maintains that for 40 years the rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer, regardless of the political party holding power.
In relocating to London, he went on to say that it felt like arriving in a “slightly different country”. He also quoted from government statistics that for every 12 jobs created in London and the south-east of England, only one job is created anywhere else in the UK.
It is sad to reflect that in the past few years in Scotland poverty has been increasing in an otherwise rich and favoured land.
We have in this archbishop a Christian leader like the humble and enigmatic Pope Francis, who champions the poor and criticises the heartless financial markets.
Hopefully, this may guide all Christian churches back to their traditional pursuit of social justice.
Tim Flinn (Letters, 20 January). suggests that 1 per cent of people have always owned more than the rest and asks if this is any more distressing than the best athletes hogging all the Olympic medals.
It seems to me that Mr Flinn belongs to that unfortunate 1 per cent of society who possess very little in terms of perspective, empathy and basic human kindness and as such, he has my sympathy.