One of the major problems in the world right now is inequality. The .1% and the 1% and the top 10% now control most of the worlds wealth.
Unbelievable as it may seem, the world’s eight richest people now have the same wealth as the poorest 50%.
“The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.
In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.
The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.
Oxfam blamed rising inequality on aggressive wage restraint, tax dodging and the squeezing of producers by companies, adding that businesses were too focused on delivering ever-higher returns to wealthy owners and top executives.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) said last week that rising inequality and social polarisation posed two of the biggest risks to the global economy in 2017 and could result in the rolling back of globalisation.
Oxfam said the world’s poorest 50% owned the same in assets as the $426bn owned by a group headed by Gates, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, and Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.
The others are Carlos Slim Helú: the Mexican telecoms tycoon and owner of conglomerate Grupo Carso; Jeff Bezos: the founder of Amazon; Mark Zuckerberg: the founder of Facebook; Larry Ellison, chief executive of US tech firm Oracle; and Michael Bloomberg; a former mayor of New York and founder and owner of the Bloomberg news and financial information service.
Last year, Oxfam said the world’s 62 richest billionaires were as wealthy as half the world’s population. However, the number has dropped to eight in 2017 because new information shows that poverty in China and India is worse than previously thought, making the bottom 50% even worse off and widening the gap between rich and poor.
With members of the forum due to arrive on Monday in Switzerland, where guests will range from the Chinese president Xi Jinping, to pop star Shakira, the WEF released its own inclusive growth and development report in which it said median income had fallen by an average of 2.4% between 2008 and 2013 across 26 advanced nations.”
Few economists doubt the truth of this vast inequality in the world.
And exactly how does this inequality hurt the attempt to lower CO2 emissions? Unfortunately, in many, many ways. All of which are fairly nasty and very difficult to find solutions to.
In a nutshell, fighting global warming means doing things like taxing carbon emissions and this means higher taxes and other expenses for the poor and for the lower middle class. And of course the poor and the lower middle class object to this and they revolt against the societies that tax them and they vote for the likes of Donald Trump and Brexit.
A good example of this trend was seen in the recent populist riots in Paris by the Yellow Vests. Working class people in Paris violently protested a planned increased in a fuel tax. Hundreds of cars were burned as well as other structures. As an article in the NY Times pointed out, “The gas tax is part of an effort started by France in 2014 to regularly raise the tax on fossil fuels to fight global climate change.” Unfortunately, under the pressure of the yellow vest riots, the French government plans on canceling the tax.
And so another attempt to control CO2 emissions bites the dust.
However it is hard not to sympathize with French workers who are already having great difficulties paying for car travel to work and for taking their kids to school. Gas in Paris is already twice the cost of gas in the US.
Inequality is creating all kinds of problems that getting harder and harder to solve as most of the world get poorer and poorer and hotter and hotter.
I plan to look the conflict between the problems of populism and global warming in greater detail in the near future. This is a much deeper problem than we have previously realized.
The picture at the top of this page is Glacial River Rocks
in Teton National Park, Wyoming
Below is a link to the Guardian article about the world’s eight richest people.