The Planet

These 8 Men Own As Much Wealth As Half The World

by Leo Shvedsky

January 16, 2017

A new report has revealed that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow around the world. And there’s a dramatic marker laid down to punctuate the effect: Just eight individuals, most of them living inside the United States, control was much wealth as 3.6 billion people. Many of those billions live in extreme poverty, without access to clean drinking water, healthy food, reliable shelter, quality education, or healthcare. 

“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said of the findings. “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”

But it’s more than just eye-catching numbers that make for easy news headlines to circulate around social media. Oxfam International, a collection of non-profit agencies working to alleviate poverty around the globe and the authors of the new data, says such a stark gap between the wealthy and the poor could continue to fuel the type of political resentment that has played a role in everything from Brexit to the surprising victory of President-elect Donald Trump.

The list of the eight men starts with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at the top, considered to be the world’s wealthiest individual. Of course, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation arguably has become one of the most important charitable organizations in the world, with Gates himself saying he hopes to have invested all of his fortune into improving the world by the end of his lifetime.

The rest of the list, in order of estimated wealth based on the Forbes billionaire list is as follows:

• Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of Inditex 

• Financier Warren Buffett 

• Mexican businessman Carlos Slim

• Amazon’s Jeff Bezos 

• Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg 

• Oracle’s Larry Ellison

• Michael Bloomberg, businessman and former mayor of New York City

Amazingly, just a year ago, Oxfam said 62 people controlled half the world’s wealth, but was forced to revise that number downward after new financial figures were released. An estimated 42 percent of the world’s wealth is controlled by the six American men on the list.

Oxfam offers up a list five solutions it hopes President-elect Trump, the U.S Congress, and leaders around the globe will pursue to help reduce the wealth gap, and more importantly, ensure that those struggling have access to essential resources:

• Stop offshore tax dodging which costs the US and developing countries more than $100 billion each year

• Raise the minimum wage so that working families can make a living wage

• Fight discrimination of all kinds and ensure equal pay for equal work

• Build and invest in a social safety net for everyone

• Ensure every person has access to affordable, high quality healthcare and education

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These 8 Men Own As Much Wealth As Half The World