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Will The Rich Will Continue To Get Richer And The Poor Get Poorer?

Photo by Dorthea Lange in public domain.

Photo by Dorthea Lange in public domain.

The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer! That’s the conclusion of a new study published by Oxfam if current trends continue.

Here are some key findings in the report relative to the world’s wealth:

  • One percent of the world’s population controls nearly half of the planet’s wealth.
  • This tiny slice of humanity controls $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people.
  • The world’s 85 richest people own as much as the poorest 50 percent of humanity.
  • 70 percent of the world’s people live in a country where income inequality has increased in the past three decades.

The picture is the exaggerated in the United States:

  • In the U.S., where the gap between rich and poor has grown at a faster rate than any other developed country, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-recession growth (since 2009), while 90 percent of Americans became poorer.
  • The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their incomes grow by 31.4 percent over the period 2009 to 2012, while the other 99 percent experienced just 0.4 percent growth, according to a University of California, Berkeley study.
  • Income inequality in the U.S. was at its highest since 1928, the year before the start of the Great Depression, according to Pew Research Center

NPR reports “Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to ‘opportunity capture’ — in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich,” the relief agency writes. “This creates dynamic and mutually reinforcing cycles of advantage that are transmitted across generations.”

“[People] are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” the report says.

The report urges “curbing the power of the rich to influence political processes and policies that best suit their interests”  using these measures:

  • Cracking down on financial secrecy and tax dodging;
  • Redistributive transfers; and strengthening of social protection schemes;
  • Investment in universal access to healthcare and education;
  • Progressive taxation;
  • Strengthening wage floors and worker rights;
  • Removing the barriers to equal rights and opportunities for women.

The World Economic Forum is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on Jan. 22, 2014.

In a message to the World Economic Forum Pope Francis said, “the growth of equality… calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.” President Obama will be meeting with Pope Francis in March 27, 2014 “to discuss… their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality.”

Only 13 more people are needed to sign up to watch Robert Reich’s movie Inequality For All on Monday, February 10, 2014. Do it today! See you there.