Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are wealthy compared to most of the rest of the world. Keep that in mind.
The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday.
Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, anti-poverty organization Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem.
If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, who will be attending the meeting in Davos. “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”
The same report a year earlier said that the richest 62 people on the planet owned as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. However, Oxfam has revised that figure down to eight following new information gathered by Swiss bank Credit Suisse.
Oxfam used Forbes’ billionaires list that was last published in March 2016 to make its headline claim. According to the Forbes list, Microsoft founder Gates is the richest individual with a net worth of $75 billion. The others, in order of ranking, are Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of fashion house Inditex, financier Warren Buffett, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
… The ability of the rich to avoid paying their fair share of taxes was vividly exposed last year in the so-called “Panama Papers,” a leaked trove of data that revealed details on offshore accounts that helped individuals shelter their wealth.
How many of your possessions could you live a year without missing? Consider selling some unneeded items and helping others in need with the funds. It feels pretty good, especially when you can help someone get back on their feet again who has been through a bad time.
In my view, the secret of compassion is to believe that time is an endless loop and you will have to live the life of everyone who has ever lived. One person I told this theory to said, “God, I hope not, because most people are assholes.”
Many people I’ve met do seem miserable, but the way improve your own life is not to become important, rich, beautiful or powerful, it is to help someone, anyone you can. I am you. You are me. You are he, and we are all together.
When it is your turn to live the life of one of the richest people on the planet, do the right thing and change the world for good.