The uber-wealthy keep getting richer, and the income gap continues to rise. In 2018, billionaires’ wealth increased 12 percent or the equivalent of $2.5 billion a day. In contrast, those who represent the poorest part of society experienced an 11 percent decrease in wealth, according to a new report from Oxfam.
This wealth disparity is hampering the fight against poverty, harming economies, and making people angry, according to the study, “Public Good or Private Health.” Oxfam points out that governments are not doing enough to fund services such as healthcare and education but continue to give tax breaks to corporations and the rich.
Since the 2007-08 financial crisis, the number of billionaires in the world has nearly doubled. Between 2017 and 2018, a new billionaire was minted every two days. In the meantime, these uber-wealthy people are paying fewer taxes than they have in years. Tax cuts have disproportionately benefited men, who own 50 percent more wealth than women worldwide and run more than 86 percent of corporations.
“People across the globe are angry and frustrated,” noted Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International. “Governments must now deliver real change by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and investing this money in free healthcare and education that meets the needs of everyone – including women and girls whose needs are so often overlooked. Governments can build a brighter future for everyone – not just a privileged few.”
Oxfam suggests increasing taxes by just 0.5 percent would save 3.3 million lives by providing people healthcare. In addition, the increase would put 262 million children in school through educational initiatives.
Worldwide, just 4 cents from every dollar in tax revenue was generated from inheritance and property taxes in 2015. Many wealthy countries have reduced or dropped these taxes, and developing countries hardly implement them.
Corporations and rich individuals have experienced significant drops in tax rates over the years. In 1970, the personal income tax in wealthy countries was 62 percent, compared to 38 percent in 2013. Poor countries have an average tax rate of 28 percent.
A jarring example is Brazil in which the poorest 10 per cent of society pay a higher percentage of taxes than the richest 10 percent and 10,000 people are dying each day worldwide because they don’t have access to affordable healthcare, while children of wealthy parents receive considerably more educational opportunities.