Oxfam: Gulf between the poor and the rich increasing, nationalism on the rise worldwide
The deepening gulf between the poor and rich and under-financed public services are stoking public anger and are responsible for the growth of nationalism, according to the British NGO Oxfam, which published the results of its most recent report on inequality ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. While the assets of billionaires last year increased by an average of USD 2.5 billion daily, or 12 % year-on-year, the poorer half of the global population lost 11 % of their assets, or half a billion dollars daily altogether.
"The impoverished suffer doubly - they do not have access to basic services, and at the same time they pay higher taxes," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said. According to Oxfam, in recent decades corporations and the rich have reduced the amount of money they pay in taxes.
If governments do not collect tax revenue from the wealthy, it means they have no choice but to shift the tax burden to the impoverished, for example, through VAT, the director explained. For that reason, Oxfam is calling for bigger investments into public health care and for more effective, stronger taxation of big firms and the rich.
Globally, women are especially endangered by such social inequality. Last year, men owned 50 % more assets than women did on average worldwide.
Women frequently have less time to engage politically because they give their support to activities for which they go unpaid, such as caring for children and elderly people, perpetuating the current economic system, which was created by men, for men, Oxfam concludes. Nevertheless, between 1990 and 2010 the number of people living in extreme poverty did fall by half.
Today, 736 million people are still stuck trying to live on just USD 1.90 per day. Oxfam analyst Tobias Hauschild, who focuses on tax reform, said there have been some positive developments, though, such as the European Union's plans to tax big concerns and the abolition of banking secrecy in Switzerland.
"Those are matters that were never even spoken of 10 years ago," he told Deutsche-Presse Agentur. Economists and politicians have been reminded of the importance of consistent social policy by the phenomena of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as US President, and the growth in popularity of extremist parties, the Oxfam representative said.
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