8 Billionaires = 3.6 Billion Poor
By Shlomo Maital
Oxfam is a British-based philanthropic organization that provides support for the poor world-wide. It is politically identified with the Left. From time to time Oxfam generates reports showing the extreme inequality of world wealth distribution. The latest report claims that only 8 billionaires, the richest people in the world, hold wealth equal to the entire holdings of wealth of the poorest 3.6 billion people, or half the world’s population.
Not long ago, this annual report claimed that 62 billionaires = half the world’s population. So the rich have grown richer, the poor have grown poorer. Indeed, half the world has little or no wealth at all, per capita. Oxfam uses Forbes Billionaire List data, and publishes its report to coincide with the Davos World Economic Forum, where the world’s makers and shakers meet.
Here are the eight super-billionaires.
1.Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, led the list with a net worth of $75 billion. He is scheduled to speak at the forum in Davos this year. 2. Amancio Ortega Gaona, the Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, best known for its oldest and biggest brand, Zara, has a net worth of $67 billion. 3. Warren E. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion. 4. Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion. 5. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, $45.2 billion. 6. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, $44.6 billion. 7. Lawrence J. Ellison, the founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion. 8. Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and founder of the media and financial-data giant Bloomberg L.L.P., $40 billion.
What can we learn from the Oxfam report, even if it is partly inaccurate?
* None involve inherited wealth. All did it on mainly their own. * Gates and Buffett are committed to giving away all their wealth and their foundations are well on the way to doing this. * Bloomberg became a highly effective mayor of New York, and was close to running for President. * A majority built wealth in the world of high-tech. * Some have created a lot of jobs: Zara, a retailer, and even Amazon, which is now hiring.
With a billionaire now President of the United States, it is time to ponder these questions: Is it healthy for society that individuals can accumulate vast fortunes? Do they use tax avoidance to build wealth, and is their philanthropy to some degree part of tax avoidance? Should there be a strong inheritance tax, so the playing field is levelled at least once a generation?