More billionaires, more inequality - even at the dizzying top

So there are now 1,826 billionaires with a combined wealth of $7.05 trillion. This beats last year’s amount by $650 billion, but is this good news?

In Oxfam’s view, it is not and as Forbes themselves point out in the introduction to the list, inequality even at the dizzying top is in a dangerously farcical state as the wealthiest 500 individuals collectively hold $4.7 trillion of the $7.05 trillion total. That’s 500 of the 1,826 people listed, which equates to less than a third of these individuals owning more than half of the collective wealth.

This is yet more evidence that things are getting very much better for the very few mega rich at the top, while at the other end of the scale some 1 billion people will still live in extreme poverty in 2015. Such extreme inequality should concern us all, not only because it is a moral outrage, but also because it is undermining growth and creating one of the most significant barriers to ending poverty.

We need to debunk the myth that economic growth inevitably trickles down to those at the bottom. We must expose the fact that money can buy power regarding rigging rules, regulations and policies that only further benefit the wealthiest. This creates a huge void between the rich and poor, and between those who can and cannot access opportunities.

Unfair tax rules are a stark example of this. Oxfam believes a fairer global tax system, which clamps down on multinational corporations shirking their responsibility to pay tax would help close this gap and tackle the growing problem of inequality. This year must be the beginning of the end for an unfair and poorly regulated global corporate tax system. 

We urgently need a World Tax Summit, where tax rules are re-written and where world leaders deliver a roadmap towards ending this scourge once and for all.

This entry is by Claire Godfrey, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research, Even it Up Campaign, Oxfam, published on 5 March 2015.

What you can do now

Join the call to make tax fair now.

Read Oxfam’s latest report: Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More 

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