Inequality takes hold: the rich get richer
Since the start of the pandemic, Spain’s top 23 billionaires have seen their wealth grow by 29%. At the same time, in the first year of the pandemic alone, more than one million citizens found themselves in a situation of severe material deprivation in the state. This is demonstrated by Oxfam Intermón in a report on growing inequalities in the world.
According to the NGO, the wealth of the ten richest men in the world has doubled. During the first two years of the pandemic, the wealth of these richest men has risen from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion, or $1.3 billion a day. All this while the incomes of the remaining 99% of the population have deteriorated unchecked.
In fact, Oxfam Intermón also points out that every 26 hours a new billionaire is born in the world, while inequality causes the death of at least one person every four seconds. The director of the NGO, Franc Cortada, said that, currently, the richest of the rich accumulate six times more wealth than the 3.1 billion poorest people in the world. And they have also been responsible for more than twice as much carbon emissions as these millions of poorest people. “If these ten richest men were to lose 99.99% of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be the richest people on the planet,” he said.
According to ‘Forbes’ magazine, the richest men in the world are: Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Elon Musk of Tesla; Bernard Arnault, CEO of Louis Vuitton, and his family; Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, now Meta; Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway; Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle; Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google; Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries; and Amancio Ortega of Zara. Not a single woman on the list.
Thus, as the NGO states in the report, fighting inequalities could prevent the deaths of 21,000 people a day. Oxfam Intermón also recalls in the study that, on a global scale, “billionaires have increased their fortune by five trillion dollars, more than in the last 14 years accumulated.” It is, according to the NGO, the largest increase since records have been kept.
The result, says Oxfam Intermón, is “more wealth for a few and more public debt for all.” In addition, it is estimated that inequality between countries will grow for the first time in just one generation. The inequalities caused by the pandemic, according to the report, are particularly severe for women and girls, as well as for all those who are migrants or in situations of exclusion.
In Spain, more of the same
Oxfam Intermón also notes that, in Spain, the austerity policies implemented during the crisis have been a scourge for the health system, which has withstood the blow of the pandemic in an extreme situation. “We cannot afford to see the public health system collapse,” Cortada said. Meanwhile, the richest people in Spain have seen their wealth increase.
For this reason, the NGO calls on governments, among other measures, to apply more taxes on large fortunes, reorient policies with public funds, combat the gender gap and tackle the climate crisis once and for all. In particular, it reminds Spain that it must seize the opportunity of tax reform, ensure that European funds for the pandemic are “a real and effective opportunity”, reinforce social protection policies and invest in health and education.
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