We know they're going to receive a couple of "this is it, really, the world is ending, last call" reports on the terminal state of our global environment. That should get them through the first three courses and then, for dessert, they'll mull over a report on inequality from Oxfam showing that, by next year, 1% of mankind will own more than half of everything. If you're with me and still safely within that 99% that means we get to share the other half. Here's your share. Sorry.
The charity’s research, published on Monday, shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.
“The message is that rising inequality is dangerous. It’s bad for growth and it’s bad for governance. We see a concentration of wealth capturing power and leaving ordinary people voiceless and their interests uncared for.”
Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with a study showing that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50% (3.5 billion people). The charity said this year that the comparison was now even more stark, with just 80 people owning the same amount of wealth as more than 3.5 billion people, down from 388 in 2010.
• Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals.
• Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education.
• Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth.
• Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers.
• Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal.
• Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum-income guarantee.
• Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.
Speaking to the Guardian, Byanyima added: “Extreme inequality is not just an accident or a natural rule of economics. It is the result of policies and with different policies it can be reduced. I am optimistic that there will be change.
This echoes the warning from Nobel laureate economist, Joe Stiglitz, in his 2012 book, "The Price of Inequality" that was heralded by The New York Times as "the single most comprehensive counterargument to Democratic neo-liberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories." In his book, Stiglitz dissects inequality and then demonstrates how classic merit- and market-based inequality has been utterly eclipsed by the rampant inequality crafted by our legislatures. It stands as an indictment of our political classes for their abject betrayal of the publics they are supposed to serve.
What began as a means to shift the tax burden from capital to labour and benefits from labour to capital has, today, predictably resulted in the transfer of political power and influence from the electorate to capital in a process now called "political capture." It's a form of political corruption by which the political apparatus is put to the service of privileged interests at the cost and to the detriment of the public interest. Nowhere is this as blatant as in Washington but there's plenty of it in the Great White North as well. Fossil fuel subsidies are a classic example. Harper's income splitting initiative that will benefit the top 15% of households is another. Every corporate tax exemption and deferral, almost every subsidy, grant and waiver (especially ecological) come under this umbrella of legislated inequality.
The bitter irony is that this political capture so boldly on display in our politically engineered inequality is the unmovable mountain that will continue to thwart any possible chance we have at saving this planet, our environment, for future generations. We haven't got a chance, not a snowball's chance in hell, of salvaging what remains of our environment until we begin to see those forces that suppress action that only they are empowered (and duty bound) to initiate for what they are. That goes for the lot of them.
So, what do I want from Davos Claus this year? Truth, that's all. Just complete, unvarnished truth about the threats facing mankind, who is behind those threats and what we have to do, now, to fight back. What's that? There is no Santa? Well, shit!