A new report published by Oxfam International marking the annual gathering of political and business leaders in Davos said eight men own the same amount of wealth as half the world! Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few, when one in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day. Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”
Oxfam’s report, ‘Economy for the 99 percent’, said eight men own the same amount of wealth as 3.6 billion people, who make up the poorest half of humanity. Such a conclusion by the report speaks for itself on how the gap between the rich and the poor is becoming wider every day.
I believe this is a matter of concern, because it doesn’t have negative consequences on rich people, but on local communities, especially those with limited resources, and on humanity as a whole. With more people falling below the poverty line and being unemployed, the rate of crimes and violence will increase. Inequality can lead to troubled societies and civil conflicts.
The report concluded with a call for fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people and not just a fortunate few. It also called for better data on the distribution of global wealth – particularly in India and China. The Oxfam study is good and its calls are fair, but I don’t know how these results could be implemented, because rich people always want to make more money, while poor people keep struggling to make ends meet.
The dilemma here is of the middle class, because it is shrinking every day. Few middle class people move up, while many fall behind. It is important to preserve the middle class and strengthen its sources of income. We should not expect the eight men to give away all their money to the rest of the world. They may be making some donations, but we have to be realistic. If you worked so hard for a secure income for yourself and your family, would you give it away just like that, out of humanitarian concern? I have not seen anyone doing this except in movies.
This is real life.
The report showed some good aspects that we need to consider related to women and wages, stating that with the current trends, it will take 170 years for women to be paid the same as men. This is true, because women face discrimination in wages and salary benefits around the world. The report called on governments to increase taxes on the wealthy and those with high incomes to generate funds needed to invest in healthcare, education and job creation. It called for decent wages and stopping discrimination against women.
The Oxfam report also called on business leaders to play their part in building a human economy. I trust these findings clearly show that the modern economy is broken.
By Muna Al-Fuzai