Richest 26 people alive have as much money as poorest 3.8 billion, report says

Richest 26 people alive have as much money as poorest 3.8 billion, report says
Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, would be the 59th-richest country in the world by himself, just ahead of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (Source: Ted S. Warren)

(Gray News) – A new report released this week outlines the startling concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of its richest handful of people.

Released by Oxfam, the UK poverty relief and philanthropic group, the report states that just 26 individuals account for as much wealth as the world’s 3.8 billion poorest people.

And their fortunes are growing at a rate of $2.5 billion a day.

“It is 10 years since the financial crisis that shook our world and caused enormous suffering,” the report states. “In that time, the fortunes of the richest have risen dramatically.”

It pointedly notes that, for instance, just a tiny fraction of the fortune of Jeff Bezos would pay for the entire health budget of Ethiopia, the world’s 12th-most populous country.

Bezos, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is worth $135 billion (though his recently-announced divorce will cut that roughly in half). By International Monetary Fund figures, that would make him the 59th-richest country in the world by himself, just ahead of Ukraine.

“Since the global economy collapsed, we have learned nothing – the number of billionaires has nearly doubled, with a new billionaire being minted every other day,” Paul O’Brien, an organization official with Oxfam America, said in a post on the group’s website.

The report notes how inequality acutely impacts women – men, it found, own 50 percent more of the world’s wealth than women.

It doubly impacts women of color. In the U.S., single white men own 100 times more wealth than single Hispanic women.

“While corporations and the super-rich enjoy lower tax bills, millions of girls around the world have no access to a decent education and women are dying due to a lack of maternal health care,” O’Brien said.

The report targets tax policy, including the 2017 U.S. reform law, as a driver of inequality. According to its findings, the average top rate of taxation in the world’s richest countries has fallen from 62 percent nearly 50 years ago to 37 percent today.

“Respected voices have warned that across the world, from the US to Brazil, from Europe to the Philippines, inequality is contributing to a poisoning of our politics,” the report’s authors write.

Inequality continues to increase at a rapid rate, as well.

The world’s poorest 3.8 billion people saw their wealth decline by 11 percent last year. Some 3.4 billion of those people live on less than $5.50 a day.

“Our economy is broken,” the report states. “With hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top.”

Taxing the richest one percent just a half percent more, the report states, would raise enough money to provide life-saving healthcare to 3.3 million people.

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