NUPGE responds to latest Oxfam report on growing wealth inequality

26 billionaires are as wealthy as half of all humanity combined.

Ottawa (1 Feb. 2019) — A staggering amount of wealth in the world is held by a shockingly small group of people. The scale of global economic inequality is shameful.

According to Oxfam’s annual report on wealth inequality, entitled Public Good or Private Wealth? the world’s 26 richest people own as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity. That means 26 billionaires have as much wealth as 3.8 billion people.

According to the report,

  • The world’s 2,200 billionaires grew 12 per cent wealthier in 2018. Meanwhile, the bottom half of the world's population got 11 per cent poorer.
  • Since the 2008 financial crisis, “the number of billionaires has doubled” and “their fortunes grow by $2.5 billion a day, yet the super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades.”
  • At the same time, 3.4 billion people are living in poverty on less than $5.50 a day, and women are often hardest hit. Men hold 50 per cent more of the world’s wealth than women.

Public services and fair taxation

The report says that governments are making inequality worse for not investing enough in public services: about 10,000 people per day die for lack of health care, and there are 262 million children not in school, often because parents were unable to afford the fees, uniforms or textbooks.

Oxfam’s response is that governments need to fund high-quality, universal public services by various forms of fair taxation, including on corporations and rich individuals wealth.

“Every year, when these statistics are released, we must reiterate our outrage,” says Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

“An economic system that creates such an obscene concentration of wealth in the hands of a small group of individuals, while millions of people are trapped in poverty barely subsisting, while women are dying due to lack of decent maternity care, while children are denied an education, is simply shameful and immoral," Brown continued.

“We live in a world of breathtaking unprecedented concentration of extreme private wealth and a new golden age of corporate power and greed," he said.

Inequality is not inevitable

Inequality is a problem. But we can do something about it. That’s why NUPGE launched its All Together Now Campaign.

Inequality of wealth and income is not an accident, or a law of nature. It’s not inevitable. It is something created by human beings. It’s the result of an economic system created by human beings. This means that we can stop it.  If we all work together, and with good public policies, we can reverse the trend, and move towards greater equality of wealth and income.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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