Income inequality, thanks to the hard work of thousands of everyday Americans, has become a top issue in the nation’s consciousness. But the size of that yawning gap in wealth still continues to amaze – in a very bad way.
Oxfam issued a report this week that speaks to the enormity of the matter. In short, there are 62 people on Planet Earth today whose wealth equals that of the bottom 3.5 billion people. And thanks to global tax havens, the problem is only getting worse. Five years ago, it took 388 billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
The document, entitled “An Economy For The 1%,” notes that the fight against poverty cannot be won until policymakers take on this income inequality crisis:
“One of the key trends underlying this huge concentration of wealth and incomes is the increasing return to capital versus labor,” the report states. “In almost all rich countries and in most developing countries, the share of national income going to workers has been falling. This means workers are capturing less and less of the gains from growth. In contrast, the owners of capital have seen their capital consistently grow (through interest payments, dividends, or retained profits) faster than the rate the economy has been growing. Tax avoidance by the owners of capital, and governments reducing taxes on capital gains have further added to these returns. “
Oxfam notes that some $7.6 trillion in wealth, more than the combined domestic product of the United Kingdom and Germany, is currently held offshore. This solidifies the current trend that makes the rich even richer and leaves workers across the world struggling.
The result is that the wealth of the richest 62 people increased by more than a half a trillion dollars during the last half decade, while the poorest 50 percent of those on the globe fell by more than $1 trillion during the same time. The number defeats any argument that wealth trickles down!
It’s time for policymakers to stop turning a blind eye to the problems facing hard-working Americans. The Teamsters are ready to fight in the workplace and at the ballot box to make sure workers can have a better future. But this union needs its members to weigh in and let employers and elected officials know they won’t be denied.