By MUDASIR SHEIKH
The perception of masses regarding poverty is that it is a natural condition and it has been accepted as such. A globalised economy has existed for at least 400 years. During this period, some parts of the world have increased their wealth exponentially and major areas remained in extreme poverty. It is estimated that 78 percent of the world’s millionaires reside in North America and Europe. One in nine people in the world sleeps hungry, while on the other hand a handful of billionaires have accumulated so much wealth that they would need several life times to spend it.
Just about two centuries ago the rich countries were only three times richer than the poor ones. In 1960s, at the end of colonialism they were 35 times richer, today rich countries are about 80 times richer than poorer countries. It is not just about countries but within the countries there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor masses. The recent report of Oxfam (an international antipoverty organisation) 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 that much 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 which have more wealth than the bottom 50 percent were 388, in 2015 this number shrunk to 62, in 2017 Oxfam reported that just eight individuals are wealthier than the bottom half of the global population. Since the 2008 global financial crisis poor got considerably poorer and rich have exploded with more wealth. Since 2010 the top 62 wealthiest persons have seen an increase of 44 percent in their assets, while the bottom half have lost 41 percent of their resources.
This wealth inequality has resulted in different problems for different nations, like in India the problem is corporate land grab, Greece is now ruled by banks, in Kenya rising food prices, in USA student debt, in Ghana the breakup of public utilities, in China slave wages and toxic skylines, in Iraq decades of conflict fuelled by extractive industries, in Libya toppling of Gadhafi and a never ending civil war, in UK austerity without an end in sight, in Mexico losing your rights to land and everywhere money hijacks political processes.
So as we connect these dots, we are all begin to ask ourselves what is it that was actually growing when we grow the economy, and why is it we let the logic of global finance to define how we the seven billion citizens of earth ought to live, and do we really have to consume mother earth and each other to live better?
Regarding the cause, there are lots of things that contribute to global wealth inequality, and inequality within countries and societies. Is it the economic policies and practices that favor wealthy individuals and help them in growing their wealth? The wealth of the super rich individuals and multinational corporations allow them to have influence on politics. The world’s tax heavens also play a great role in skewed wealth generation and distribution.
They hold about $7.6 trillion of wealth, which is never invested back into 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!
Most economic policies are usually favoring multinational corporations. Another major cause is how modern banks, which inject money into the global economic system, that results in loosing of purchasing power of currency thus causing inflation. The US dollar has lost approximately 98 percent of its purchasing power during last 100 years.
An ounce of gold in 1917 cost about $20.67, now after 100 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. This is mainly caused by fractional reserve banking system that results in robbery of public wealth and benefits only the bankers.
The banking elites like Rothschild (a Jewish Banking dynasty) were responsible for financing the two World Wars, which in turn leads in the creation of Jewish state of Israel and major international organisations like the World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which now writes the rules of international trade.
This Jewish conspiracy behind the creation of Israel can be confirmed through Belfour declaration signed on november2, 1917. Charging of interest on money by banks which they create out of thin air also results in exploitation of the poor.
The policies of the World Bank, IMF and WTO are designed to forcibly liberalise markets, prying them open in order to give multinational corporations unprecedented access to cheap land, resources and labour, but at a very high cost. Poor countries have lost around $500 billion per year in GDP as a consequence of these policies according to economist Robert Pollin of University of Massachusetts.
Now there is a question, can we rebalance the wealth of the world? Yes off course, 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 into the economy which is currently controlled by banks, through central banking system.
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 scam must be demolished which benefits only USA at the cost of rest of the world. The rules of international trade must be redefined to eradicate tax avoidance and other malpractices by big corporations. The tax African countries loose on personal wealth alone could employ enough teachers to educate every child in Africa and save the lives of four million children.
By taking all these steps wealth inequality can be eradicated, and a sustainable planet of happy citizens with equal rights can be established. It is not possible to have an exponential growth forever on a planet with finite resource.
—The writer has an MBA and M.Phil. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org