Eight men own just as much wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.
That’s one finding from Oxfam’s new report titled “An Economy for the 99 Percent,” which reveals a financial gap that is “greater than had previously been estimated,” according to the global charity.
The report, released just as the World Economic Forum in Davos takes place this week, demands that world leaders “take urgent action to reduce inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth.”
“Public anger with inequality is already creating political shockwaves around the globe, as seen recently with the election of Donald Trump here in the US, and Brexit in the UK,” Oxfam writes. “But rather than moving forward with a constructive vision to unrig the rules, we are seeing dangerous, often xenophobic approaches, which blame inequality on the very people who bear its greatest burdens and empowers special interests to rig the rules even more.”
The eight richest men, according to Forbes’ billionaires list from March 2016 that Oxfam cited, include: Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg.
“Together we need to create a new common sense, and turn things on their head to design an economy whose primary purpose is to benefit the 99%, not the 1%,” Oxfam wrote in the report. “The group that should benefit disproportionately from our economies are people in poverty, regardless of whether they are in Uganda or the United States. Humanity has incredible talent, huge wealth and infinite imagination. We need to put this to work to create a more human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few.”
Many of those on the list are significant philanthropists. Gates, for example, is giving away the bulk of his fortune to help the world’s poorest people through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He and Buffett in 2010 also introduced The Giving Pledge, which asks the world’s wealthiest people to give more than half their fortunes to philanthropy or charitable causes during their lifetime or in their will.
Some folks also took issue with Oxfam’s methodology:
The shoddy methodology of Oxfam’s inequality report: pic.twitter.com/rQztmu888Q
— IEA (@iealondon) January 16, 2017
Others called Oxfam’s report “drivel,” with Forbes contributor Tim Worstall writing “we’ve just had the largest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species and we’re told that we need to change everything to benefit everyone?”
In its report, Oxfam criticizes corporations that squeeze workers for production and avoid paying taxes. “We can and must build a more human economy before it is too late,” Oxfam wrote in the report.