Oxfam research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year. Each adult on average has $2.7m. On current trends the wealthiest 1% will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
Today the 80 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest 50%. 20% of people (including you – sorry!) own 94.5% of wealth. The average wealth of the poorest 80% is only $3,851 (€ 3,320) per adult.
The wealth at the top is not just from hard work and prudent asset management. That would at least be honest. Much of it has been accrued through tax avoidance (even tax evasion), collusion, corruption and confiscation by force. It’s not just the wealthy that cheat – many people game the system and take housing and unemployment benefit while having jobs – though of course they are not the bulk of the problem. And overall, humanity has taken too much from nature.
The imbalance will not last. The longer it takes for fairness (not equality) to dominate our systems, the more likely that rebalancing of wealth will occur by violent revolution, destroying much of the wealth, rather than humane evolution which might preserve wealth.
Systems are clearly breaking down. Economic systems remain confusing and stagnant despite at least 6 years of patching. Employment opportunities are shrinking as technology continues to automate production from food, to cars to banking. Everyday there is another report of environmental disintegration, whether from climate volatility, species loss, or water shortage. And people are not any more fulfilled.
System change is still possible and increasingly urgent. Everyone can make a difference by choosing how they invest and spend their money. But those at the top must lead change or expect to be swept away in violence as society disintegrates in the coming decades. This is becoming more certain. The Limits to Growth have been passed.
Wikipedia: Limits To Growth
Club of Rome: Limits To Growth