The World's 26 Richest People Have As Much Wealth as the Poorest 50 Percent of Humanity, Report Says

The 26 richest people in the world have as much combined wealth as the poorest half of Earth's population, while the gap continues to increase, according to a new report.

Oxfam International, a confederation of charities based in the United Kingdom that works to alleviate poverty, released its annual inequality report, calling for governments to increase taxes on the wealthy to address the growing problem. Since the financial crisis in 2008, the world's wealthiest have increased their fortunes by billions of dollars, while the bottom 50 percent of the global population—about 3.8 billion people—have seen an overall decrease of more than 10 percent.

"People across the globe are angry and frustrated," Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's executive director, warned in a statement, according to Al Jazeera. "Governments must now deliver real change by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax," she said, pointing out that even a minimal increase would raise substantial funds that could be used to cover education and health care costs.

In some Western nations, such as Brazil and the United Kingdom, the wealthiest 10 percent actually pay a lower portion of their income in taxes than the poorest 10 percent, according to the report. "Getting the richest 1 percent to pay just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth could raise more money than it would cost to educate all of the 262 million children out of school and provide healthcare that would save the lives of 3.3 million people," the document explained. It is also estimated that the world's super wealthy have hidden approximately $7.6 trillion from tax authorities, which would deprive developing nations of about $170 billion annually.

However, the report also said positively that the number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased substantially in the past few decades.

"The massive fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty is one of the greatest achievements of the past quarter of a century but rising inequality is jeopardizing further progress," said Oxfam's director of campaigns and policy, Matthew Spencer, according to The Guardian.

"The way our economies are organized means wealth is increasingly and unfairly concentrated among a privileged few while millions of people are barely subsisting. Women are dying for lack of decent maternity care and children are being denied an education that could be their route out of poverty," he said.

Progressive politicians in the United States, led by independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic New York Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have been pushing the government to address the disparity, which is growing across the country as well. Ocasio-Cortez has pushed for a 70 percent tax on wealth earned above $10 million, receiving criticism from right-wing politicians, who inaccurately claim she wants to implement a general tax of 70 percent. But 59 percent of Americans would support the tax plan, according to a recent poll.

Analysts have also pointed out that the wealthy in the U.S. have been getting tax breaks from the government for decades. In the 1960s, when the American economy was booming, income above $400,000—which would be about $3 million today adjusted for inflation—was taxed at 70 percent or above. The decade before that, the amount hovered above 90 percent.

Meanwhile, Trump's massive tax cuts, which primarily benefited the wealthy and corporations, have led to a dramatic increase in the national deficit. Analysts predict it will surpass $1 trillion this year, The New York Times reported.

"We must repeal the Trump tax breaks for the top 1 percent and large, profitable corporations," Sanders tweeted on Friday. "At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, we need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create a sustainable economy, not make the very rich even richer."

The World's 26 Richest People Have As Much Wealth as the Poorest 50 Percent of Humanity, Report Says | World
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK