Oxfam report shows the true cost of rising inequality

Oxfam warns that extreme wealth and income inequality is not only unethical, it is also economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive and environmentally destructive.

Ottawa (21 Jan. 2013) — The National Union of Public and General Employees welcomes the report by Oxfam, The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all, which shines yet another light on the rising global crisis of income inequality.

"We are with Oxfam in its push to see a drastic reduction in income inequality around the globe," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees. "We are pursuing the same goals through our All Together Now! campaign promoting tax fairness, quality public services and a modern industrial strategy."

In its report, Oxfam reveals that the $240 billion net income of the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to eliminate extreme poverty four times over. It states that the "richest one per cent has increased its income by 60 per cent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process."

Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam International, said: “We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true.

“Concentration of resources in the hands of the top one per cent depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else – particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

“In a world where even basic resources such as land and water are increasingly scarce, we cannot afford to concentrate assets in the hands of a few and leave the many to struggle over what’s left.”

Oxfam said world leaders should learn from the present-day success of countries such as Brazil which has grown rapidly while reducing inequality – as well as the historical success such as the United States in the 1930s when President Roosevelt’s New Deal helped bring down inequality and tackle vested interests. Roosevelt famously warned that the “political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality.”

Oxfam's report was released a week before the World Economic Forum being held in Davos.

Hobbs said, “We need a global new deal to reverse decades of increasing inequality. From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit from a global economic system which is rigged in their favour. It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a global elite.”

Elements of a global new deal could include:

  • tax haven crackdown;
  • a reversal of the trend towards more regressive forms of taxation;
  • a global minimum corporation tax rate;
  • measures to boost wages compared with returns available to capital; and
  • increased investment in free public services and safety nets.

More information: 

Oxfam: The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all

All Together Now! campaign

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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