Monday, January 18, 2016

62 Pharaohs

As usual, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And now inequality is at truly staggering levels:

Just 62 people own as much wealth as the poorer half of the global population, as the widening of the gap between the rich and poor accelerates.

As the business elite converge on Davos for the World Economic Forum, an Oxfam report shows wealth is becoming further concentrated, with the number of people owning the same amount as the bottom half of humanity falling from 388 to 62 in five years.

It says a "broken" economic model underpinned by deregulation, privatisation and financial secrecy has seen the wealth of the richest 62 people jump by 44 per cent in five years to US$1.76 trillion ($2.74 trillion).

In that time, the wealth of the poorest 3.6 billion people plunged by 41 per cent.

The report is titled An Economy for the 1%, but that's misleading. This isn't about the 1%, or even the 0.00001%, but about a tiny handful of people, few enough to fit in a bus. Medieval analogies of nobles and serfs fail in the face of this level on inequality - instead, we're back to Pharonic god-kings and slaves.

Though I suppose there is a sense in which the "1%" language might be useful, in that some of these 62 people will individually be one percenters, controlling at least 1% of the world's total wealth. Which in a world of over 7 billion people, is absolutely obscene.