This week Oxfam released a report that contained the startling statistic that the 62 wealthiest people on this planet have a combined wealth equivalent to the poorest 4 billion.
Scarier still, that wealth is getting more and more concentrated: in 2010 388 people had the combined wealth of the poorest 4 billion. What happened to the poor 322 who fell off that list? they are likely licking their hurt feelings on a yacht somewhere...
If you don't find those numbers scary, well this isn't the post for you... :-)
What exactly does this mean? Well it tells me that we have a lot of individuals whose personal net worth is the equivalent to many countries' GDP.
It also tells me that many of us are making these rich people even richer. The richest on the list is CEO of the luxury brand that makes your favourite Louis Vuittons and other over-priced items coveted by many (though many say the quality isn't what it used to be - I wouldn't know).
It's hard to imagine needing that many billions. I mean, surely 1 billion is plenty enough for the average person. Perhaps the other billions might be shared to raise the quality of life for the other 4,000,000?
And really, once you have that much money, you are, in effect, a person-state yourself. No need for you to vote; you are probably able to buy whatever political favours might be required for your particular business.
What is most disturbing, apart from this obscenity of wealth, is that the wealth of the poorest 4,000,000 actually dropped by 41% from 2010 to today. Thus the rich truly are getting richer and the poor? Well things were horrific before and they're getting hellish now.
Unlike we taxpayers, many of these wealthy individuals have their money in off-shore accounts, perfect tax dodges. Imagine what some of that money REALLY circulating could do.
Research has shown that every increase in the minimum wage or welfare rates has a direct and positive impact on our economy. Every time we lift someone out of poverty we reduce child abuse, spousal abuse, we improve mental and physical health, and we make our communities safer.
Some of these billionaires are giving it all away - hello Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg - but not enough. And it is clear that those who are doing so are making a tremendous difference.
This can't go on forever. The history of this planet is people getting fed up and doing something when things get too out of balance. We all have a responsibility towards our fellow man.
And yes, if you're wondering, this has helped me keep my "no shopping" for awhile vow very easily. :0(
It's worth reading about. And it's important. It effects us all, even if we don't realize it!
And yes, I promise next topic will be much lighter, but this was too important not to talk about.