Newswire: Income inequality fueling backlash and elites across the World are worried

Winnie Byanyima, Director Oxfam International

     Jan. 28, 2019 (GIN) – The rich are getting richer, businesses are thriving, but it’s hard not to notice that discontent is growing among the expanding poor and middle class and could soon pose a threat to the well-to-do.

     At the exclusive World Economic Forum, an annual event held in Davos, Switzerland, income inequality was the talk among many corporate leaders, and the good jobs being lost to trade and automation.

     “We’re living in a Gilded Age,” said Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, which manages more than $265 billion in assets. “I think, in America, the aristocrats are out of touch. They don’t understand the issues around the common man.”

     In fact, a new Global Risks Report declares that humanity is “sleepwalking its way to catastrophe” referring to extreme weather, failure to act on climate change, among other threats.

     For the jobless poor, a new buzzword - “upskilling” - was bandied about. Training could help people obtain better jobs in the digital economy, some assert.

     Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, doubled down on the need for digital education which would lessen the inequalities that people have in terms of job opportunities.

     It’s “up to the grown-ups” to make digital upskilling happen in K-12 schools, said Schwarzman, whose net worth is estimated at $13 billion.

     But what most of the elites are uniformly against is a solution to be found in taxing wealth.

     Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, couldn’t disagree more. “We’re in a world where governments do not tax wealth enough, do not tax the rich enough.”

     Billionaire fortunes are spiraling by $2.5 billion daily, according to Oxfam in a new report. The share of wealth held by billionaires increases by $2.5 billion a day, while the share of wealth among the 3.8 billion of the world’s poorest decreases by $500 million a day.

     “Our economy is broken,” said Byanyima, originally from Uganda. “Hundreds of millions live in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top.

     Governments are fueling this inequality crisis, she insists. “They are under-taxing corporations and wealthy individuals, while underfunding vital public services like healthcare and education… The human costs are huge, with women and girls suffering the most.”

     Countries cited by Oxfam with the greatest income inequality gap were Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana and Kenya.

     The Forum runs from Jan. 22 to 25. To read the Oxfam briefing paper released this month, visit www.oxfam.org   

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.