Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/832/19624
Them & Us
The charity Oxfam reports that the number of billionaires doubled between 2009 and 2014 - the 'Great Recession' - a period characterised by savage capitalist austerity involving mass welfare cuts and falling real incomes.
Earlier this year, Oxfam said the world's 85 billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the world's population.
In it's latest study - Even It Up - it says that this elite group had seen their wealth collectively increase by $668million (£414million) a day in the 12 months to March 2014.
- That's almost $500,000 dollars every minute.
- Oxfam blamed growing inequality on "market fundamentalism and the capture of politics by elites".
- The report adds that a (modest) 1.5% billionaire wealth tax would raise $74 billion a year worldwide.
Google has boasted of signing up to the 'living wage' for its employees. The 'living wage' is currently £7.85 an hour (£9.15 an hour in London), compared to the statutory minimum wage of £6.50 an hour.
However, it seems that the ubiquitous internet search engine gives with the one hand but takes back much more with the other.
Last year Google again made the headlines but for the wrong reason; namely, that it paid only £11.6 million in UK corporate taxes despite generating £3.4 billion of business in the country and declaring a global profit of £6.1 billion for 2012.
Google avoids paying more in UK taxes by designating its UK office as primarily a 'marketing operation' with its European HQ based in Ireland. However, a Reuters investigation alleged that Google's UK workers were responsible for sales not their Irish colleagues.
- More than one in five workers (22%) earn less than the living wage
Another employer paying the living wage is Barclays. The banking giant had earlier this year demonstrated its 'worker-friendly' credentials by announcing 9,000 job cuts in the UK.
£2 billion would go a long way in investing in council housing, public services or wages. Instead, the government is intending to use this sum to repay government debt stretching back to the South Sea Bubble company collapse in 1720, the Napoleonic and Crimea wars, as well as World War One.
Given that these bonds have no maturity date, and therefore the government never has to repay investors (the original ones are presumably all now dead), we can only praise George Osborne's priorities in these austere times!
In The Socialist 5 November 2014:
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