World’s Richest 85 People Worth As Much As Poorest 3.5 Billion

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Wealth inequality is a big and growing problem worldwide. Now the latest data from Oxfam shows us just how much of a disparity there is between the world’s richest and poorest folks.

The anti-poverty organization released a new report, Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality, in which it discusses the growing issue.

The famed “1 percent” now controls $110 trillion in wealth, 65 times more than the poorer half of the world’s population.

And the richest 85 people in the world own the same amount as the poorest 3.5 billion. Put another way, the top 0.00000001 percent of people are worth the same as the bottom 50 percent.

As for the United States, we’ve all felt the wealth gap grow since the financial crisis in 2009. Since then, the wealthiest 1 percent in the country have taken in 95 percent of economic growth, while the bottom 90 percent have actually become poorer.

The report from Oxfam warns that we’re set up for financial disaster:

Extreme economic inequality is damaging and worrying for many reasons: it is morally questionable; it can have negative impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction; and it can multiply social problems. It compounds other inequalities, such as those between women and men. In many countries, extreme economic inequality is worrying because of the pernicious impact that wealth concentrations can have on equal political representation. When wealth captures government policymaking, the rules bend to favor the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else.

The report continues:

Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to ‘opportunity capture’ – in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich.

The problems don’t have to be permanent, and the issue doesn’t have to go unchecked. Social and economic changes can be implemented now to make a difference in the world today and for future generations.

Oxfam ends the report with a list of recommendations to get the world back on track to a fairer global economy. Most suggestions, such as not using economic power to seek political favors, apply only to the rich and powerful.

But other suggestions are for anyone who wants to become involved in the situation and call for change. The organization wants citizens to call for things like strengthened workers’ rights, bolstered education systems and universal healthcare.