News & Politics

Economic Inequality Poses Major Risks to Human Progress, Says Report

Oxfam says that critical measures must be taken to curb excessive wealth disparity.

Photo Credit: durantelallera

Eighty-five people control the same amount of wealth as half the world's population, according to a recently released report by Oxfam.

The report, published to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, points out that the world’s wealthiest people have not only recovered from the Great Recession, but they’ve thrived in its aftermath.

The 85 people cited in the report control about $1.7 trillion in wealth, roughly the same as the poorest half of the world's population. Moreover, the richest 1 percent of the population has a net worth of approximately $110 trillion, which is 65 times the wealth of the bottom half.

The report, titled "Working for the Few" was released today by the international aid, famine relief and development organization. In the report, Oxfam concluded that such economic inequality poses major risks to human progress.

"Wealthy elites have co-opted political power to rig the rules of the economic game, undermining democracy," Oxfam claims.  "This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems,"

The U.S. Federal Reserve's multi-billion dollar bond-buying program was cited as a major force behind the rapid increase in wealth inequality.

Oxfam is calling on the attendees of the World Economic Forum to take action. The organization says the wealthiest must pay their fair share of taxes and the political influence of their wealth must be limited. It also calls on those gathered at the forum to support progressive taxation and living wages, and to urge governments to use tax revenues to provide universal health care, education and social protection for their citizenry. 

Cliff Weathers is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.


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