There has never been absolute equality in the world because of people’s different capacities and aptitudes. But what is disconcerting is that inequality and institutional discrimination is built into the global system. A study released by Oxfam on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland reconfirmed this.
The British charity found that the wealthiest 62 people in the world own as much wealth as half the world’s population — 3.5 billion people. Inequality has increased since 2010 with the richest 62 people increasing their wealth by 44% while the poorest 3.5 billion falling by 41%.
Beyond platitudes, those assembled at Davos were not going to pay any attention to such concerns. After all, many of them are not only extremely rich but are also directly responsible for formulating policies on behalf of their financial masters to allow such inequality to deepen.
About $7.6 trillion of individuals’ wealth sits in offshore tax havens. If tax were paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments every year, says Gabriel Zucman, assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Similarly, multinational companies and wealthy elites are playing by different rules than everyone else, refusing to pay the taxes that society needs to function. “The fact that 188 of 201 leading companies have a presence in at least one tax haven shows it is time to act,” said Winnie Byanima, Oxfam’s executive director.