JuicyLesson #119: The Oxfam Report on the global unequal distribution of wealth

Before actually progressing with our study of the Unequal Distribution of Wealth (Globally and in the U.S.A.), let’s have a look at the final paragraph extracted from the first half of the Report on Tuesday, JL #116.

“This is the real global conspiracy in its party dress, in many ways. A shabby, shoddy, pantomime of democracy based on greed. No totalitarian state, no goose-stepping accountants, no foaming at the mouth dictators, just ridiculous media campaigns and more greed.”

At first glance, this type of inflammatory writing is likely to turn me off because I find its substance to be buried in a morass of high-falutin’ vocabulary and therefore hard to first discern and then, to take seriously. As a matter of fact the tone of the entire article – including the part previously cited on Tuesday – is sort of like that, a little bit anyway, but it is only an irrelevant freak of nature if you will, and this type of tone does not, in my opinion, detract in any way from the impact of this report, that is neither from the points it makes, nor from the conclusions it draws.

“Democracy based on greed”; “no … (fascist) state, no goose-stepping accountants … just ridiculous media campaigns and more greed”. First I really like the metaphor invoked by the description of accountants as being of the “goose-stepping” variety, the very notion of these guys in suit pants, white shirts, vests, and wire rimmed glasses marching in lock-step, each with a pencil behind his right ear and a pen held against his right shoulder makes me feel like smiling; and second, the impact of those few lines is at once both far-reaching and quite sad, if not actually depressing.

It seems so hopeless if this is the way it is and, more importantly if this is the way things have to be. For if greed got us to this point in a horribly distorted world where more and more global resources are becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and that certainly seems to be the case, what hope is offered by the words which end that quotation: “More greed.”

I will begin today by reprinting parts of Tuesday’s article (JL #116) which I had meant to examine earlier this week. However we got sidetracked for a change but now we’re back.

Our study of this longish report will be divided into two parts. Today the first part of the report is presented. A future JuicyLesson will complete our study of this Oxfam Report by taking a look at the second half of the article as well as by presenting my take on the entire thing.

This report was recently published in the Sydney Herald. It is intended as a follow up to Monday’s Juicy Lesson #115 which examined some of the work of the author Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) and pondered the following question: Is Dr. Thompson’s radical, leftist philosophy with its frequent rants against basic inequality still relevant in our modern world, or does reading or hearing about it simply turn us off?

Now for the first part of the Oxfam Report:

Eighty-five people apparently have access nobody else has.

The Report shows that the total wealth of the world’s richest one percent (1%) of the population is equal to about $110 trillion, sixty-five times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population. Let me run this by you one more time: the world’s richest one percent (1%) owns sixty-five times (65 X’s) the wealth of approximately three-and-a-half (3 1/2) billion people.

In the US, the wealthiest one percent (1%) of the population grabbed ninety-five percent (95%) of post-financial crisis growth between 2009 and 2012, while the bottom ninety percent (90%) became poorer.

Business Insider:

Oxfam also argues that this is no accident either, saying growing inequality has been driven by a “power grab” by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour.

(Or, to put it another way, the endlessly pandering policies and practices put in place by all Western governments since the Thatcher/Reagan years.)

A few observations at this point:

These eighty-five (85) men and women are worth on average, say, of $190 billion each.
This is however merely their “official” wealth, the wealth that they’re known to have, not necessarily their full range of assets.

The Economic Times:
Wealthy elites have co-opted political power to rig the rules of the economic game, undermining democracy and creating a world where the 85 richest people own the wealth of half of the world’s population,” Oxfam claimed.

It further added that since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it.

The politics of this economic profile aren’t exactly a mystery. It’s basically a result of corruption and a compliant political system which has long since failed to represent anything but the wealthy.

A little more on this damning Report in a future JuicyLesson depending on the reception given this one.

Definitely food for some serious thought.

Over and Peace Out

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