World News

    Oxfam: 85 Wealthiest Own as Much as That of Half the World's Population



    The human rights group Oxfam says the wealth of the world's 85 richest people equals that of the poorer half of the more than 7 billion people in the world.

    Oxfam released a study on global inequality on Monday, ahead of a meeting this week of government and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    A co-author of the report, Nick Galasso, tells VOA that wealthy elites have used their political power to get lower tax rates, hide wealth offshore, and otherwise serve their interests.



    "High levels of inequality actually corrode democratic processes. What we have seen across the globe and what the report documents is how wealth concentration is used to influence the political process to create laws and regulations that benefit the rich over everyone else."



    He said high levels of inequality hurt economic growth, make it harder to reduce extreme poverty and lead to a variety of social ills, including crime and disease.

    Oxfam said that "by some measure, the riches of billionaires are now unparalleled in history." Last year, Forbes magazine calculated the combined fortunes of the 85 wealthiest at nearly $1.7 trillion.



    The report did not name the world's 85 richest individuals, but cited lists compiled by Credit Suisse bank and Forbes.

    Oxfam said the income alone derived from the $73 billion fortune of the world's richest individual, Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, could pay the yearly wages of 440,000 Mexicans.

    The report lists financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, and diminished public services as examples of political maneuvering by the wealthy. It said the effect of these policy changes is not only to concentrate wealth and political influence in higher income brackets but to ensure it stays there for the next generation.

    Oxfam says in the past decade, the number of billionaires in India has increased tenfold, while in Europe, austerity measures mainly affect the middle and lower classes. It says in Africa, global corporations exploit their political influence to avoid taxes, reducing government resources to fight poverty.

    Oxfam is calling for those business leaders and government delegates attending the World Economic Forum to support government programs that strive to help under-served middle- and lower-income levels, support development of fair wages and crack down on tax dodging and financial secrecy.

    Galasso acknowledged reducing inequality will not be easy.



    "I think that this is certainly an uphill battle, but this is the right moment. If you scan the Internet, if you look at the news, this is the issue, this is a global issue that people seem to overwhelmingly care about. What we are asking world leaders at Davos, the movers and shakers, to do is to instead of using their influence to, for example, generate better tax policies for themselves or allow them to ship their profits out of state so they do not get taxed, we are asking them to use their influence to help create a more harmonious society where there's shared prosperity."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora