By Mudasir Sheikh
A general perception regarding poverty is that it is a natural condition. One in nine people in the world sleeps hungry, but on the other hand, a small handful of billionaires have accumulated exponential wealth. Only two centuries ago, the rich countries were only three times richer than poorer countries. In the 1960’s, at the end of colonialism, they were thirty five times richer. Today, rich countries are about eighty times richer than poorer countries. It is not just about countries but within the countries there is a huge gap between rich and poor. The recent report of Oxfam (an international antipoverty organization) released on 16 January, 2017 revealed that just eight wealthiest persons own as much as bottom 3.6 billion people, who make up the poorest half of the humanity. In other words, the richest eight people on the planet earth own wealth which is equal to the population of India, China, Pakistan, and Russia in terms of number of individuals living in these countries.
Things have become more extreme during last few years. In 2010, the number of people who have more wealth than bottom 50% was 388; in 2015, this number shrunk to 62 people and in 2017, Oxfam reported that just eight individuals were wealthier than bottom half of the global population. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, the poor got considerably poor. Since 2010, the top sixty two wealthiest persons have seen an increase of 44% in their assets, while he bottom half has lost 41% of their resources. This wealth inequality has resulted in different problems for different nations. In India, the problem is of corporate land grab, Greece is now ruled by Banks, in Kenya there are rising food prices, and USA is afflicted student debt, and so on.
Regarding the cause, there are lots of factors which contribute to wealth inequality. Economic policies and practices generally favor wealthy individuals and help them in growing their wealth. The wealth of mega rich individuals and multinational corporations allow them to have influence on politics. The world’s tax havens also play a great role in wealth inequality. These hold about $7.6 trillion of wealth which is never repatriated back to the country where it comes from.
Global wealth inequality is also growing because of neoliberal economic policies imposed on developing countries. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have the power to impose economic policies on developing countries even when voters and elected politicians in those countries unanimously reject them. These economic policies usually favor multinational corporations. Another major cause is how modern banks, which inject money into the global economic system, that results in loss of purchasing power of currency thus causing inflation. The US dollar has lost approximately 98% of its purchasing power during last 100 years. An ounce of gold in 1917 cost about $20.67; now after hundred years, the same amount of gold is priced at $1244.34. Same is the case with other currencies of the world.
This diminishing purchasing power of currency is called inflation. It is mainly caused by the fractional reserve banking system which results in robbery of public wealth and benefits only bankers. The banking elites like Rothschild were responsible for financing World War one and two. This, in turn, led to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel and major international organisations like World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which now write the rules of international trade. This Jewish conspiracy behind the creation of Israel can be confirmed through the Belfour Declaration signed on November 2, 1917.
The policies of World Bank, the International Monetary fund and the World Trade Organization are designed to forcibly liberalize markets, prizing them open in order to give multinational National Corporations unprecedented access to cheap land, resources and labour, but at a severe cost. Poor countries have lost around $500 billion per year in GDP as a consequence of these policies, according to the economist , Robert Pollin of University of Massachusetts.
The question is: can we rebalance the wealth of the world? Yes, this dangerous trend can be reversed. Governments of the world can act individually and together to demolish the charging of interest on money by banks and regain control on money supply. Money with intrinsic value like gold based currency must be adopted. Transparency in the trading of precious metals must be introduced, in order to prevent the manipulation of their prices and speculation. Petrodollar scams which benefit only USA at the expense of the of the world must be given short shrift. The rules of international trade must be redefined to eradicate tax avoidance and other malpractices by big corporations.
By taking all these steps wealth, inequality can be eradicated, and sustainable development that leads to the benefit of all arrived at.
The author is an MBA and an M Phil. He can be reached at:[email protected]