The Guardian points to a new report published by Oxfam that states how 85 of the richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion combined. Oxfam goes as far as to claim that this is "no accident," noting that the "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."
"In developed and developing countries alike we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children.
"Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a 'winner takes all' windfall for the richest."
The Oxfam report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favour on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.
Above, a graph from the summary of the report, Source: F. Alvaredo, A. B. Atkinson, T. Piketty and E. Saez, (2013) ?The World Top Incomes Database?, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ Only includes countries with data in 1980 and later than 2008. Photograph: Oxfam
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