The 85 Richest Individuals in the World
By Dennis Loo (1/20/14)
NBC is reporting today, based on an Oxfam report released on Monday entitled "Working for the Few," that the richest 85 individuals in the world now have more wealth than the bottom half of the world, 3.5 billion. This is a further shift into an even tinier number of hands of what was as of a few years ago - the richest 497 individuals held more than the bottom half of the world's population put together.
According to the report, 210 people have become billionaires in the past year, joining a select group of 1,426 individuals with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.
It added that the wealth of the richest one percent of people in the world now amounts to $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population.
The story goes on to state further:
"A survey in six countries (Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the U.S.) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich," the report said.
Oxfam singled out India as an example, where the number of billionaires increased from less than 6 to 61 in the past decade, concentrating approximately $250 billion among a few dozen people in a country of 1.2 billion.
"What is striking is the share of the country's wealth held by this elite minority, which has skyrocketed from 1.8 percent in 2003 to 26 percent in 2008," the report said.
Oxfam said that India's billionaires acquired their wealth in 'rent thick' sectors – industries where profits are dependent on access to scarce resources – "made available exclusively through government permissions and therefore susceptible to corruption by powerful actors, as opposed to creation of wealth."
If this were a report on an alien world, commentators from Earth would probably be provoked into asking how the aliens on that planet are tolerating such an insanely unjust and unfair distribution of wealth and power.
But it's not an alien planet that shows this lopsidedness. It's our world.
How long can this insanity continue? In India the contrast between the wealthy and the abject poverty is stark and criminal. How those who revel in their ill-gotten wealth can do so in the face of so many others around them on the very edge of survival or worse shows the capacity for self-deception and the utter bankruptcy of neoliberal philosophy that says it's all about money and that no one owes any social obligations to others.
Not only is this distortion of the distribution of wealth and power grotesque in terms of the impact that it has on the life chances of half of the planet and more - their needless suffering and unnecessary deaths - but it is also a sign of the nature of capitalism and imperialism, systems that survive only through savage exploitation, exploitation that is literally destroying the Earth as a viable planet.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)