Inequality Inc.: Oxfam’s Call to Address the Widening Wealth Gap

by Oxfam Canada | January 14, 2024
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Inequality Inc.: Oxfam’s Call to Address the Widening Wealth Gap

by Oxfam Canada | January 14, 2024
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Photo Credits: Left: Jordan Opel | Right: Juan Marin / Unsplash

In a world where economic divisions are growing, Oxfam's latest report, Inequality Inc., sheds light on the alarming disparities that have intensified over the past two years. Our eye-opening study reveals the stark reality that people worldwide are working longer hours for poverty wages in precarious and unsafe jobs. Meanwhile, the world's five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes from $405 billion to $869 billion since 2020.

Astonishingly, this translates to a staggering rate of $14 million per hour, while nearly five billion people have experienced increased poverty. If current trends continue, the world could witness its first trillionaire within a decade, but poverty won't be eradicated for another 229 years.

Meanwhile, here in Canada...

Four of the five wealthiest Canadians have seen their wealth increase by two-thirds since 2020. Additionally, the richest 0.02% of Canadians now possess more wealth than the bottom 80%. No matter how you do the math, the answer is always the same: the rich keep getting richer, and the rest of us, poorer. But make no mistake: inequality is no accident.

Runaway corporate and monopoly power is an inequality-generating machine: through squeezing workers, dodging tax, privatizing the state, and spurring climate breakdown, corporations are funneling endless wealth to their ultra-rich owners. But they're also funneling power, undermining our democracies and our rights.

"Inequality Inc." uncovers a disturbing trend: seven out of ten of the world's largest corporations have a billionaire as CEO or principal shareholder. These corporations, with a combined worth of $10.2 trillion, surpass the GDPs of all countries in Africa and Latin America combined.

Oxfam Canada Executive Director Lauren Ravon notes, "This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else."

Large corporations are on track to break their annual profit records, with 148 of the world's biggest companies amassing $1.8 trillion in total net profits in the year to June 2023. Shockingly, for every $100 of profit made, $82 is paid out to wealthy shareholders.

Ravon emphasizes, "Runaway corporate and monopoly power is an inequality-generating machine," citing issues such as worker exploitation, tax evasion, privatization, and climate breakdown as contributing factors.

So What's Next?

A resounding 82% of Canadians believe it is time to address wealth and income inequality by increasing taxes on the wealthy and profitable corporations. 89% support the idea of a wealth tax paid by the richest Canadians annually, emphasizing a strong public demand for change.

We call on Prime Minister Trudeau to create a billionaire wealth tax and a windfall profits tax for major corporations in the 2024 federal budget for urgently needed measures like climate action, universal child care, mental health and income supports, and affordable housing. Send a letter to him today.

Inequality Inc. is a wake-up call, compelling us to confront the stark reality of a global wealth divide that continues to widen. Governments need to address the root causes of inequality and work towards building a fairer, more equitable world. We call on citizens to help shape a future free from the shackles of corporate greed.

Read the report here

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