Newswire : At Davos Confab of wealthy nations, a stinging report on inequality makes the rounds

Report on Inequality.png
Report on Inequality

Jan. 22, 2017 (GIN) – At the annual conference of wealthy nations opening this week in Davos, Switzerland, not all the news is good for the bankers, the high-net-worth individuals, the tycoons and the privileged few.

Increasingly, those great concentrations of capital are drawing negative attention from the advocacy organizations who are asking why do the richest 1% of the population take home 82% of all the wealth created?

According to “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” the just released report from Oxfam International, there are now 2,043 billionaires worldwide.” Collectively, their fortunes grew by $762 billion in 2017, while the poorest half of humanity saw no increase in their wealth at all.

“Here’s something we’re rarely told growing up,” said Winnie Byanyima, head of the international confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty. “Our world rewards wealth, not hard work or talent.”

“The concentration of extreme wealth at the top is not a sign of a thriving economy,” observed Mark Goldring, Oxfam UK’s chief executive. “It’s a symptom of a system that is failing the millions of hardworking people on poverty wages who make our clothes and grow our food.”

“It’s hard to find a political or business leader who doesn’t say they are worried about inequality. It’s even harder to find one who is doing something about it,” said Byanyima.

Booming global stock markets have been the main reason for the increase in wealth of those holding financial assets during 2017. The world belongs to the wealthy and nowhere is this injustice more apparent than in the workplace.

“Corporations are driving down wages and working conditions across the globe to maximize returns for their shareholders,” Oxfam said. “And many of our governments don’t just let this happen, they actively facilitate it. In a frenzied drive for GDP growth, they slash corporate taxes and strip away the rights and protections of workers.”

“There’s a billionaire boom,” said Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s vice president for policy and campaigns. “A perfect storm is driving up the bargaining power of those at the top while driving down the bargaining power of those at the bottom. If such inequality remains unaddressed, it will trap people in poverty and further fracture our society.”

The theme of Davos Forum this year is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” with over 400 sessions over four days.

This year’s opening address will be delivered by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. Donald Trump will be the last speaker to address the forum. His keynote address is scheduled for Friday before the close of the meeting.

Obama says Trump ‘unfit’ for presidency

By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

President Obama

Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama offered one of his sharpest denunciations of Donald Trump to date Tuesday, declaring the Republican nominee entirely unfit to serve as president and lambasting Republicans for sticking by their nominee.

The strong rebuke in the White House East Room came after Trump’s criticism of the family of a slain Muslim US soldier, along with comments that displayed apparent confusion related to the Russian incursion into Ukraine.

“The Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president,” Obama said at a White House news conference with the Prime Minister of Singapore. “He keeps on proving it.”

The Trump campaign responded by going after the Democratic nominee as well as the President. “Hillary Clinton has proven herself unfit to serve in any government office,” a Trump statement said, listing a number of policy concerns. “Obama-Clinton have single-handedly destabilized the Middle East, handed Iraq, Libya and Syria to ISIS, and allowed our personnel to be slaughtered at Benghazi.”

Later Trump in an interview with WJLA said of Obama: “He’s a terrible president. He’ll probably go down as the worst president in the history of our country. He’s been a total disaster.”

Obama on Tuesday described his feelings about Trump as unprecedented, recalling disagreements with previous GOP presidential nominees Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney — but never an outright sense they were unfit to serve.

“The notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that made such extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our country, the fact that he doesn’t appear to have basic knowledge of critical issues in Europe, the Middle East, in Asia, means that he’s woefully unprepared to do this job,” Obama said.

Speaking alongside Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the White House East Room, Obama said there are now weekly episodes in which even Republican party leaders distance themselves from Trump. “There has to be a point at which you say, ‘Enough,’ ” Obama said.

 

Obama goes after Trump’s party

 

Obama placed responsibility for Trump’s statements squarely on his fellow Republicans, many of whom denounced his statements on the slain soldier’s family but didn’t withdraw their support.

“What does this say about your party that this is your standard-bearer?” Obama asked of GOP leaders. “This isn’t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe. This is daily and weekly where they are distancing themselves from statements he’s making. There has to be a point at which you say, ‘This is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.’ ”

Obama said that denunciations from Republicans of Trump’s remarks “ring hollow” without an accompanying withdrawal of support. “I don’t doubt their sincerity. I don’t doubt they were outraged by some of the statements that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about the Khan family,” Obama said. “But there has to come a point in which you say, ‘Somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.’ ”

Trump and the family of the slain soldier have been locked in an increasingly bitter dispute over Muslims in America and the nature of patriotic sacrifice.

After Khizir Khan, who lost his son in a suicide bombing in Iraq, declared at last week’s Democratic National Convention that Trump had “sacrificed nothing,” the Republican nominee claimed he’d been “viciously attacked” and questioned why Khan’s wife, Ghazala, didn’t make her own remarks.

Criticism from Trump’s own party came swiftly, including in a lengthy statement from McCain, whom Trump previously derided for having been taken captive in the Vietnam War. But he and other top GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, made little indication they would withdraw support for the Republican candidate.

Trump has also taken flak for appearing unaware that Russian forces had annexed Crimea in early 2014, saying on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that President Vladimir Putin is “not going into Ukraine.” Later, he argued that the people of Crimea “would rather be with Russia than where they were” — an argument that Putin himself has made in justifying his annexation of the disputed Ukrainian territory.