Chandra Muzaffar – Widening Economic and Social Inequalities, Billionaires Alongside the Global Impoverishment of the Human Family

It is not surprising that the Davos Forum held in the middle of January 2017 chose not to examine the obscene, grotesque, ever widening economic inequalities in the world brought to its attention  by Oxfam, the global aid and development confederation. Oxfam revealed on the 15th of January that “the richest eight tycoons on the planet are worth as much as the poorest 3.6 billion people” — half of the world’s population. It also emphasised that the richest 1% continues to own more than the other 99% combined.

These inequalities have been getting worse over the years. In 2010, a mere seven years ago, the wealth of 43 of the world’s richest people equalled to that of half of the human family. Between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the top 1 % had increased by 182 times compared to the bottom 10%.

Critics of Oxfam’s findings such as the Adam Smith Institute argue that “it is not the wealth of the world’s rich that matters, but the welfare of the world’s poor and this is improving every year.” They claim that the proportion surviving on less than US 2 dollars a day has fallen from 69.9 % in 1981 to 43% in 2008. But they miss the point.  While it is true that absolute poverty has been reduced on a global scale, there is greater concentration of wealth in fewer hands today than ever before. It is this disparity with all its dire consequences that poses a monumental challenge to the struggle for global justice.

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