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Billionaire boom


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 21 January 2020 00:00


Has the world outgrown capitalism? Or is there still hope to fix the problems of inequality and excess that have engulfed the system and thrown up fresh challenges? The latest report from Oxfam has shown that the amount of wealth held by the rich continues to grow with protests in as many as 30 countries demanding that inequality be tackled by governments. 

The world’s richest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined in 2019, while unpaid or underpaid work by women and girls adds three times more to the global economy each year than the technology industry, according to a report by Oxfam.

The Nairobi-headquartered charity said in a report released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that women around the world work 12.5 billion hours combined each day without pay or recognition.

In its ‘Time to Care’ report, Oxfam said it estimated that unpaid care work by women added at least $10.8 trillion a year in value to the world economy – three times more than the tech industry. This is incredibly problematic as it points to the subjugation of millions of people for the sake economic growth projections that mean very little to citizens.  

Linked to the report by Oxfam was a survey that showed a majority of people around the world believe capitalism in its current form is doing more harm than good. This year was the first time the ‘Edelman Trust Barometer,’ which for two decades has polled tens of thousands of people on their trust in core institutions, sought to understand how capitalism itself was viewed.

The study’s authors said that earlier surveys showing a rising sense of inequality prompted them to ask whether citizens were now starting to have more fundamental doubts about the capitalist-based democracies of the West.

The poll contacted over 34,000 people in 28 countries, from Western liberal democracies like the United States and France to those based on a different model such as China and Russia, with 56% agreeing that “capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world.”

On a national level, lack of trust in capitalism was highest in Thailand and India on 75% and 74% respectively, with France close behind on 69%. Majorities prevailed in other Asian, European, Gulf, African and Latin American states.

Only in Australia, Canada, the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan did majorities disagree with the assertion that capitalism currently did more harm than good.

The survey confirmed a by-now familiar set of concerns ranging from worries about the pace of technological progress and job insecurity, to distrust of the media and a sense that national governments were not up to the challenges of the day.

Within the data there were divergences, with Asians more optimistic about their economic prospects than others across the world. There was also a growing split in attitudes according to status, with the affluent and college-educated much more likely to have faith in how things were being run.

From France to Chile to Kenya, there are protests against inequality, rolling back social welfare programs and governments failing to control the wealth of the rich. It is therefore imperative that taxes are levied fairly and loopholes are closed so that public funded education, healthcare and housing are strengthened to help bridge at least the worst of the inequality. Bigger steps by governments will ultimately decide whether capitalism changes.


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