Oxfam launches new global campaign to push for action to address inequality
International relief and development organization Oxfam America warned today that extreme inequality will set the global fight against poverty back by decades.
In a new report, Even it Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality, Oxfam outlines how extreme economic inequality has exploded in the past 30 years, making it one of the biggest economic, social and political challenges of our time.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is spiraling out of control. In fact, the number of billionaires in the world has more than doubled since the financial crisis,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “Far from being a driver of economic growth, extreme inequality is a barrier to prosperity for most people on the planet. It hinders economic growth, corrupts politics, stifles opportunity and fuels instability.”
Today in countries around the world, prosperity is not trickling down to ordinary people, but up to those at the top, whose exceptional wealth is growing ever more rapidly. Just 85 individuals have the same wealth as half the people on our planet. This extreme inequality destabilizes global economies and pushes more and more people into poverty.
Years of government deregulation and bad policy choices have created an environment in which giant corporations and extremely rich individuals have the tools to hide their income, avoid paying their share for the public good, and buy political influence that drowns out the voices of hardworking people around the world. They exploit loopholes with shell corporations and offshore tax havens, and erode worker protections so they don’t have to pay fair wages. Hardworking people at the bottom of the income curve don’t make enough to put food on the table or buy medicine when their kids get sick, much less have the money to buy a home, start a business or save for the future. Governments that are strapped for cash cannot invest in effective health and education systems.
“Extreme poverty and inequality are the result of a skewed economic and political system that favors the few at the expense of everyone else,” continued Offenheiser. “But extreme inequality is not inevitable - it is the consequence of political choices. Practical, smart reforms can level the playing field, making the system work better for all of us.”
The Oxfam report, endorsed by Graça Machel, Kofi Annan and Joseph Stiglitz among others, is the opening salvo of a new Oxfam campaign, also called Even it Up, to push for political and economic reform to level the playing field.
“Closing tax loopholes around the world, increasing the US federal minimum wage, using oil, gas, and mineral revenues responsibly, and ensuring the voices of hardworking people are not drowned out by special interests will all help even up the playing field,” said Offenheiser.