21 January 2019   Leave a comment

Oxfam, a development charity based in Great Britain, has published a report entitled “Public Good or Private Wealth” which uses data from the Swiss Bank, Credit Suisse, to measure trends in global wealth over time. This year’s report determined that the world’s 26 richest people held as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the global population–3.8 billion. The report finds that “The number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis and their fortunes grow by $2.5bn a day, yet the super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades.” The Guardian summarizes some of the findings:

“It said the widening gap was hindering the fight against poverty, adding that a 1% wealth tax would raise an estimated $418bn (£325bn) a year – enough to educate every child not in school and provide healthcare that would prevent 3 million deaths.

“Oxfam said the wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.

“As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.”

The trend toward concentration of wealth is unmistakable and will unquestionably lead to political dissatisfaction, such as the “yellow vest” protests in France, and economic slowdowns due to lower levels of consumption.

For the first time, Israel has publicly admitted to an attack on Iranian forces in Syria. Israel made a daylight aerial attack outside of Damascus after a missile was fired toward Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. Israeli attacks against targets in Syria are not unusual–there have probably been more than a hundred in recent years–but the public admission is highly unusual and probably quite provocative to Iran which will now feel obliged to respond in kind. The threat of escalation between Israel and Iran remains quite serious, and there does not seem to be any outside state that is willing to step in and mediate the crisis.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. We are closer to his dream than we were when he delivered this speech but further away from his dream since 2016. We should use this day to redouble our efforts to ensure that his vision of an America in which all are treated equally with the dignity and respect that every human deserves is fully realized.

Posted January 21, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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