This is why they are called the filthy rich – John Minto

Posted on January 24, 2013 by admin in John Minto, Mana Blog

After speaking and writing about inequality for many years I still get gobsmacked at the astonishing statistics which show the deadly stranglehold the world’s richest have over the people of planet earth.
Here’s a short story from Radio New Zealand early this week which reports that “the 100 richest people in the world earned enough last year to end extreme poverty suffered by the poorest four times over.”

Surely it can’t be that bad – just 100 people earning enough to end extreme poverty for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people?

But it is that bad. In figures the Oxfam report says the world’s 100 richest people enjoyed a net income of $US240 billion last year while people in extreme poverty lived on less than $US1.25 a day.

Who are these 100 richest? I’ll answer that in a future blog but for the moment it’s very clear, as Oxfam argues, that “this extreme concentration of wealth and resources in the hands of the top 1% depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else – particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder.”

The wealthy always argue that somehow the poor are better off by allowing the richest to thrive but the facts say otherwise.

Bolivian President Evo Morales spelt out the impact of what he called “unfettered capitalism” on the world’s poorest in a speech he gave on 21 December last year.

  • (a) More than 850 million hungry people in the world, almost 200 million more than those who existed 30 years ago;
  • (b) Life expectancy of the poorest in the world continues to be the same as it was in 1977, that is 44 years of age;
  • (c) Approximately 1.3 billion people live in conditions of poverty;
  • (d) There are close to 230 million unemployed in the world, 40 million more than there were 30 years ago;
  • (e) Finally, the developed countries annually waste 700 million tons of food, that is, three times more than what Sub-Saharan Africa produces in a year.

It’s hard to argue against these compelling statistics. The poor have got poorer while the richest have become obscenely bloated. No wonder they are called the filthy rich.

The Oxfam report proposes the first steps to reduce this chasm between rich and poor are to close tax havens around the world (including New Zealand which has become a tax haven for the rich), reverse “the trend towards more regressive forms of taxation” (such as GST), put in place a global minimum corporation tax rate and increase investment in free public services and safety nets for people out of work or ill.

Mana says a resounding YES to all these steps!