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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Inequality

“Oxfam says the one percent are getting an ever-greater share of the world’s resources, despite already capturing around half of all new wealth during the past decade.”

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Life is unfair, you might say.

Or unequal.

In the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a total $42 trillion in new wealth was created in the entire planet.

Of that $42 trillion, $26 trillion or 62 percent was taken by just the richest one percent of the world’s 7.888 billion people.

The world’s richest—those with $1 million in cash or assets—number just 62 million.

So 7.888 billion people minus 62 million leaves you with 7.866 billion sharing the remaining $16 trillion ($42 trillion minus $26 trillion) in new wealth not grabbed by the 62 million ultra rich in the past two years.

The super rich 62 million took in 1.62 times as much as the $16 trillion shared by 7.866 billion ordinary mortals.

In the Philippines, the country’s 10 richest billionaires had combined wealth of $45.329 billion (P249.35 billion) as of Jan. 16, 2023, an increase of $4.233 billion over their combined wealth of $41.096 billion as of Dec. 12, 2022.

The January 2023 wealth of the Richest Ten Filipinos is equal to 11 percent of the estimated GDP of $423 billion as of end-2022, meaning each of the ten makes, on average, the equivalent of 1.1 percent of total economic production of the country.

All the top 10 Filipino billionaires chalked up wealth increases.

The Top Ten and their wealth (increase in one year, in parenthesis):

Henry Sy family, $9.087 billion ($205 million);
Manuel Villar Jr, $8.182 billion ($808 million);
Enrique Razon Jr., $5.78 billion ($400 million);
Lance Gokongwei Jr., $4.549 billion ($499 million);
Iñigo Zobel and sister, $$3.902 billion ($245 million);
Aboitiz family, $3.626 billion ($325 million);
Tony Tan Caktiong, $2.992 billion ($149 million);
Ramon S. Ang, $2.714 billion ($1.304 billion);
Lucio Tan, $2.397 billion ($198 million); and
Roberto V. Ongpin, ($100 million).

These 10 have these businesses: Food, property, banking, power, utilities, and casinos.

It also helps that your next-door multi-millionaire pays on average only 1.8 percent of tax on his income, while the Makati wage earner, whose income is subject to withholding, pays on average, about 20 percent.

The country’s industrialists, and they include foreigners, inside government-assisted industrial estates, receive annually P240 billion in tax incentives – money that the average wage earner makes.

In the last 60 years, the country’s nine presidents came from just five families—two Macapagals, two Marcoses plus a cousin (FVR), two Aquinos, one actor, and one long-time Mindanao mayor.

We have 24 million families, by the way. Our politics and our economy are run by just 100 families.

Meanwhile, the Oxfam report released Jan. 16, 2023, Survival of the Richest, highlights how extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in a quarter century.

Oxfam says the one percent are getting an ever-greater share of the world’s resources, despite already capturing around half of all new wealth during the past decade.

The damning report is published as the world’s elites gather in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for four days (Jan. 16-20) of the World Economic Forum, the annual winter debating club of big business, media, government, and professionals trying to solve the world’s problems – in the last half century.

Instead of improving, life for 99 percent of the world’s peoples has become harsher and less safe.

For the first time in 76 years, the world faces the grim prospect of a Third World War, one which will be a fight to the finish, with no ground rules of human behavior, from conventional armies facing each other on barren and bloodied battlefields, to tactical and strategic nuclear war, and even perhaps, a battle of satellites up in outer space.

“The global progress in reducing extreme poverty has come to a halt amid what is expected to be the largest increase in global inequality since World War II,” warns Oxfam.

Oxfam’s report shows that the super-rich have also seen extraordinary gains in the last two years 0- for every $1 of new global wealth earned by a person in the bottom 90 percent, each billionaire gained roughly $1.7 million.

The combined fortune of billionaires has increased by a staggering $2.7 billion (£2 billion) a day.

This comes on top of a decade of historic gains – both the number and wealth of billionaires having doubled over the last ten years.

At the same time, at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages, and over 820 million people—roughly one in 10 people on Earth—are hungry.

Oxfam is calling for a systemic and dramatic increases in taxation of the super-rich to claw back pandemic gains fueled by public money and private greed.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive said “The current economic reality is an affront to basic human values.

Extreme poverty is increasing for the first time in 25 years and close to a billion people are going hungry but for billionaires, every day is a bonanza.”

Oxfam is calling on governments to:

Introduce one-off solidarity wealth taxes and windfall taxes to end crisis profiteering.

Permanently increase taxes on the richest 1 percent, for example to at least 60 per cent of their income from labor and capital, with higher rates for multi-millionaires and billionaires. Governments must especially raise taxes on capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates than other forms of income.

Tax the wealth of the richest 1 percent at rates high enough to significantly reduce the numbers and wealth of the richest people, and redistribute these resources. This includes implementing inheritance, property and land taxes, as well as net wealth taxes.

Empower public and tax administrations to track the wealth of the richest people and corporations. Taxing the wealthiest is impossible unless public and tax administrations are supported to identify and track the true wealth of the richest people and governments take action to dismantle tax secrecy and tax offshore wealth and assets.

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