Working For the Few: 85 Rich People Hoard As Much Wealth As 3.5 Billion Poor People, And the Power That Goes With It

Abby Zimet

As the rich and powerful attending the World Economic Forum summit enjoy their sleek stay in Davos - Private helipad! Alpine spa! Cigar lounge! - let's hope some maverick pulls out a copy of Monday's appalling Oxfam report showing that the richest 85 people on the globe (a number, it's been pointed out, that could fit in a double-decker bus) control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population. Even more alarmingly, the report documents a growing "opportunity capture" as the rich wield ever-greater political influence to skew policies - deregulation, tax laws, cuts in public services - that ensure the trend continues. The more numbers you see, the worse it gets. Infuriating.

"We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Other report numbers that make you want to foment a revolution:

- 7 of ten people live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s


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- 1% of the population now owns almost half the world's wealth, and that share has increased in 24 of 26 countries

- Since the 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of 30 countries

- In the U.S., 1% of people reaped the rewards of financial growth since the 2009 crisis, while the bottom 90% grew poorer.

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