The rich are getting richer…

A recent article attracted my attention; it seems that according to Oxfam the richest 62 people in the world owned as much as half the world’s population and half of the super-rich individuals were from the United States. What struck me is that the wealth of the super-rich rose by 44% since 2010 while the wealth of the poorest fell by 41%. In other words, the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.

What seems clear is that the world is more and more unequal and the trend seems to be accelerating. What is most distressing is that areas of the world that were always poor are still poor as for example, Africa. At least for that continent we know where some of the wealth is hidden; 30% of all African financial wealth is held offshore costing 14 billion dollars US in lost tax revenues every year.

Obviously companies are at fault as well here as 180 out of the leading 200 companies have a presence in at least one tax haven. It is not clear to me if we are talking about something illegal or only immoral and unethical. It is one thing to search the tax law for loopholes and pay as little tax as Google and Amazon do and quite another to evade paying taxes that are owed.

What is clear is that according to a OECD report most poor people now live in middle-income countries like India and not in the poorest countries as in the past. And in these countries the social net is woefully inadequate and cannot compare to modern industrialized countries where taxes and transfers help reduce urban poverty.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone who works and lives in most modern countries. Another reason to oppose the TPP!

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