"It is staggering that...half the world's population own(s) no more than a tiny elite," says Oxfam report.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Oxfam Canada

Elite’s ‘power-grab’ a danger to the planet: Oxfam


“Wealthy elites have co-opted political power to rig the rules of the economic game, undermining democracy and creating a world where the 85 richest people own the wealth of half the world’s population,” says the development organization Oxfam. It published a report called Working for the Few which will be the basis of lobby efforts at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland this week.

“The pernicious impact (of) …widening inequality (is) helping the richest undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promote their interests at the expense or everyone else,” says Oxfam’s report. © Courtesy Oxfam Canada

Elites have “co-opted politicians”

“There are ever more constraints on workers but there are ever fewer constraints on corporations and on capital,” says Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada.  “…more and more of the wealthiest people in the world are not paying taxes anywhere. More and more of the wealthiest corporations in the world are not paying taxes anywhere.”

Elites have “co-opted politicians” says Oxfam, successfully obtaining financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice and underinvestment in public services for the majority.

Risk of violence and instability

Public awareness is growing about what Oxfam calls “a power-grab.” Polls done for the organization in Braxil, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and US show that most respondents believe laws are skewed in favour of the rich. And that, says Fox, is dangerous for the world.

“The levels of impunity, the fact that the most wealthy in too many countries are not contributing to the social services and the social protections that people in those countries need, and politicians are increasingly accountable to the most wealthy and not to the majority of their citizens mean that we’re going to have ever more violence, ever more instability, ever more social disruption,” says Fox.

Growing inequality imperils the future of the planet, says Robert Fox of Oxfam Canada. © Courtesy Oxfam

“Corrosive and toxic impact”

“In the short term we’re having ever more suffering, ever more impact on people’s lives, on people’s livelihoods and it has a very, very corrosive and toxic impact on local economies, on local production, on people’s well-being and people aren’t going to stand for it,” concludes Fox.

Oxfam will urge those attending the World Economic Forum to support progressive taxation, to not dodge their own taxes, to refrain from using their wealth to seek political favours, to urge governments to provide healthcare, education and social protection for citizens, to demand people get a living wage, and to challenge other members of the economic elite to join them in taking this kind of action.

Otherwise, says Fox, continuing and increasing economic disparity is “a recipe for disaster for the planet.”

Categories: Economy, International, Politics, Society

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