80 billionaires own half the world…

Widening inequality and growing poverty…

Take the wealth off the super-rich!

Take the wealth off the 1%, photo Paul Mattsson

Take the wealth off the 1%, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Tony Mulhearn, TUSC prospective candidate, Merseyside

The charity Oxfam has produced a report showing that the richest 1% of people on this planet are on course to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016 – a testament to the inherent greed and inequality of the capitalist system.

This obscene concentration of wealth is increasing. In Britain this trend, which existed under Labour, has now accelerated under the Tory/Lib Dem government. Just 100 rich families, whose income and assets went up by £15 billion last year, now have the same wealth as 30% of UK households.

Globally, in 2010, a mere 388 billionaires owned as much wealth as half the world’s population – 3.5 billion people. Now, that figure has shrunk to only 80 super-rich individuals. In cash terms, these 80 people have doubled their wealth over the last five years.

The long-cherished idea propagated by former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her successors, that a prosperous super-rich would allow more wealth to ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us, has proved to be hogwash. As the Oxfam figures show, a combination of tax cuts and austerity policies by governments has meant the rich becoming richer at the expense of the poor, who have become poorer.

Oxfam’s research coincides with the gathering of billionaire representatives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Oxfam’s executive director, who will co-chair the Davos event, said she would use the charity’s high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

That will be like trying to make water flow uphill. Even those like US president Barack Obama – who argue for reducing inequality and increasing living standards for the world’s majority population, in order to prevent upheavals and revolution – are unlikely to win against the powerful political lobbying of the super-rich.

One force which can check the unremitting greed of the rich and powerful is the trade union movement who, by taking action together, can reverse the fall in workers’ living standards.

But any serious talk of achieving lasting equality and redistributing wealth, to provide the jobs, wages and public services we so desperately need, requires a new, mass political party of the working class to fight for our interests.

Every confirmation of the growth of vast wealth at the expense of the mass of working families underlines the need to build the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (in which the Socialist Party is a leading player) into a mighty force for defending working people. Join with us to achieve this aim.