The Rise of the Super Rich and the Fall of the World’s Poor – Global Issues

Women in Nigeria collect food stamps as part of a program to support families struggling in the COVID-19 crackdown. Credit: WFP / Damilola Onafuwa
  • by Thalif Deen (United Nation)
  • Joint press service

It sounds altruistic — even as the number of billionaires continues to grow while the poorest of the world’s poorest continue to multiply.

Oxfam International’s latest summary, titled “Rise from Pain” and released May 23, shows 573 people who became new billionaires during the two-and-a-half-year Covid 19 pandemic — while Global poverty continues to increase.

“We predict this year an additional 263 million people will fall into extreme poverty, at a rate of one million every 33 hours,” Oxfam said.

Billionaires’ wealth increased more in the first 24 months of COVID-19 than in the 23 years combined. The total wealth of the world’s billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9% of global GDP. This is a threefold increase (up from 4.4%) in 2000, according to the study.

When asked about charitable acts, Gabriela Bucher, CEO of Oxfam International, told IPS that wealthy individuals who use their money to help others should be congratulated.

“But giving to charity is no substitute for the wealthy and companies to pay their fair share of taxes or ensure their workers are paid a decent wage. And that doesn’t justify them using their power and connections to lobby to gain unfair advantages over others,” she claimed.

New Oxfam research also reveals that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors – where monopolies are especially common – are delivering record high profits, even if wages are barely budding and workers grapple with decade-high prices amid COVID-19.

According to Oxfam, the fortunes of food and energy billionaires have increased by $453 billion over the past two years, or $1 billion every two days.

Five of the biggest energy companies (BP, Shell, Total Energies, Exxon and Chevron) are collectively generating profits of $2,600 per second and now have 62 new food billionaires.

Currently, the total world population is about 7.8 billion people, and according to the United Nations, more than 736 million people live below the international poverty line.

A World Bank report last year said extreme poverty will increase for the first time in more than two decades, and the impact of the spreading virus is expected to push an additional 115 million people into poverty. hunger, while the pandemic is fueling conflict and climate change, which has slowed poverty reduction.

By 2021, there could be an additional 150 million people living in extreme poverty.

Yasmeen Hassan, Global Managing Director at Equality Now, told IPS Oxfam the IPS Oxfam report reveals systemic failures in the discriminatory nature of countries’ economies and highlights the need There is an urgent need to restructure the financial system so that they benefit the 99%, not the 1%.

“As with any crisis, Equality Now foresees that gender will affect how individuals and communities experience the pandemic, but even we are shocked by the extent of inequality and segregation. How serious and serious is gender-based treatment?” she said.

While billionaires – the vast majority are men – continue to amass huge fortunes, women around the world remain stuck in poverty. She points out that the wealthy elite are profiting from the labor of women, much of which is undervalued, underpaid and unpaid.

“Economic hardship and an inadequate policy response to the pandemic have eroded many of the hard-won gains made in recent years for women and girls. From the rise in child marriage, sexual exploitation and human trafficking, to landlords demanding sex from women tenants who have lost their jobs, and domestic workers trapped in poverty. Abusive employers, women and girls around the world have suffered as a result of the pandemic,” Hassan declared.

The Oxfam study was published to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) – which includes the presence of the rich and the super-rich – taking place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from 22- May 26. The meeting, themed ‘Working together, restoring trust’, will be the first in-person global leadership event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

“Billionaires come to Davos to celebrate the incredible increase in their fortunes. Simply put, the pandemic, and now the spike in food and energy prices, have been a bargain for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress in extreme poverty are now reversing and millions of people are facing an impossible increase at the cost of survival,” said Oxfam’s Bucher.

Billionaires’ fortunes don’t increase because they’re smarter now or work harder, she said. But it’s actually workers who are working harder, for lower wages and in worse conditions.

The super-rich have been rigging the system with retribution for decades, she says, and now they’re reaping the benefits. They have acquired a staggering amount of the world’s wealth through privatization and monopolies, deregulation and workers’ rights while hoarding their cash in tax havens – all all have the complicity of governments”.

“Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heaters, missing bills and wondering what they can do next to survive. Across East Africa, one person dies of hunger every minute. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that bind us together as human beings. It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous. This is the literal killing inequality.”

To be more specific, Hassan of Equality Now says women are more likely to be employed in the informal sector, who have low wages and that this difficult position has resulted in higher rates of women losing their jobs, especially especially in areas not prioritized in government bailouts.

“Women are also more likely to be primary caregivers and many have shouldered an increase in unpaid duties while schools and daycares are closed. As a result, some women have been forced out of their jobs because they are unable to work full-time while caring for their children full-time. This loss of income is particularly acute for poor women and leaves them more vulnerable to a range of human rights abuses”.

She said world leaders must stop pursuing policy agendas that benefit the rich and hurt the poor.

“Instead, we urgently need a committed and coordinated response from governments and policymakers to reduce inequality and poverty, and tackle segregation,” she added. treatment that is holding back women and girls while allowing the super rich to get rich.”

Oxfam research also says the pandemic has created 40 new pharmaceutical billionaires.

Pharmaceutical conglomerates like Moderna and Pfizer are making $1,000 in profit every second just from their exclusive control of their COVID-19 vaccine, even though its development has been backed by billions of dollars government’s Invest.

“They are charging governments up to 24 times the potential cost of joint production. 87 percent of people in low-income countries are still not fully immunized.”

“The extremely rich and powerful are profiting from pain and suffering. This is unconscionable. Some have become rich by denying billions access to vaccines, others by exploiting rising food and energy prices. They are paying huge bonuses and dividends while paying as little taxes as possible. Growing wealth and rising poverty are two sides of the same coin, says Bucher, proof that our economic system is working exactly the way the rich and powerful are designed to be. do.

Oxfam recommends that governments urgently:

  • Implement a one-time solidarity tax on pandemics by billionaires to fund those facing rising food and energy costs and to recover fairly and sustainably from COVID-19. Argentina has introduced a special tax known as the ‘millionaire’s tax’ and is now considering imposing a wind income tax on energy profits as well as a tax on undeclared properties held in abroad to repay the IMF debt. The super-rich have hoarded nearly $8 trillion in tax havens.
  • End crisis profiteering by applying a temporary excess of 90% tax to the profits expected by large corporations across all industries. Oxfam estimates that such a tax on just 32 ultra-profitable multinationals could generate $104 billion in revenue by 2020.
  • Adopt a permanent wealth tax to curb the extreme wealth and monopoly power, as well as the massive carbon footprint of the super-rich. Annual wealth tax for millionaires starts at just 2% and 5% for billionaires, which could generate $2.52 trillion a year — enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of hunger poverty, create enough vaccines for the world, and provide universal health care and social protection for all living in low- and middle-income countries.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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