By> Lynn Stuart Parramore
October 21, 2014
According to a new report, the richest one percent have got their mitts on almost half the world’s assets. Think that’s the end of the story? Think again. This is only the beginning.
The “ Global Annual Wealth Report,” freshly released by investment giant Credit Suisse, analyzes the shocking trend of growing wealth inequality around the world. What the researchers find is that global wealth has increased every year since 2008, and that personal wealth seems to be rising at the fastest rate ever recorded, much of it driven by strong equity markets. But the benefits of this growth have largely been channeled to those who are already affluent. While the restaurant workers in America struggled to achieve wages of $10 an hour for their labor, those invested in equities saw their wealth soar without lifting a finger. So it goes around the world.
The bottom half of the world’s people now own less than 1 percent of total wealth, and they’re struggling to hold onto even that minuscule portion. On the other hand, the wealthiest 10 percent have accumulated a staggering 87 percent of global assets. The top percentile has 48.2 percent of the world wealth. For now.
One of the scary things about the wealth of the supperich is what French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in his best-selling book, Capital in the 21st Century. Once they’ve got a big chunk of wealth, their share will get bigger even if they sit by and do absolutely nothing. Piketty sums up this economic reality in a simple and horrifying formula: r > g.
Basically, this means that when rate of return on wealth is greater than the overall rate of growth of the economy, as it has nearly always been throughout history, the rich will grow inevitably richer and the poor poorer unless there is some kind of intervention, like higher taxes on wealth, for example. If r is less than g, the assets of the super-wealthy will erode, but if r is greater than g, you eventually get the explosion of gigantic inherited fortunes and dynasties.
This is happening now: If you look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America, you see a lot more inherited fortunes in the upper ranks than you did a couple of decades ago, when the policies that held inequality at bay began to get dismantled. In today’s top 10, there are more scions of the Walton family than entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. These people have essentially done nothing of value for society, and yet their undue influence shapes our political landscape with the wave of a wad of cash.
Carlos Maza & Joe Strupp
October 22, 2014
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat apologized for appearing at a fundraising event for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme anti-gay legal group working to criminalize homosexuality.
On October 16, Douthat spoke at “The Price of Citizenship: Losing Religious Freedom in America,” an event held by ADF and aimed at drawing attention to a number of popular right-wing horror stories about the threat LGBT equality poses to religious liberty. Douthat spoke alongside radio host Hugh Hewitt and the Benham brothers, who are notorious for their history of extreme anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-Muslim rhetoric. The event ended with explicit solicitations for donations to support ADF’s legal work.
As Media Matters noted, ADF is one of the most extreme anti-gay legal groups in the country, fighting against even basic legal protections for LGBT people and working internationally to repress LGBT human rights, including supporting Belize’s draconian law criminalizing gay sex.
On Wednesday, Douthat explained that he did not know ADF’s event was a fundraiser and said he plans to decline the honorarium he received from the event.
“I was not aware in advance that this event was a fundraiser and had I known, I would not have agreed to participate,” he said in a statement issued to Media Matters through the Times Wednesday. “I was invited by an events organizing group, not by ADF directly. I understood this to be a public conversation about religious liberty. This is my fault for not doing my due diligence, and I will be declining the honorarium.”
“Douthat’s helping ADF raise money is disturbing,” said Richard Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. “I am not inclined to jump all over the Times for it, as they feature a range of columnists and a columnist needs some room to say and do the wrong thing, and then be duly criticized for it. But ADF does not merely engage in polite disagreement. It is relentless in its attacks on equal protection of gay people and families. If this is the company that Douthat is happy keeping, it says unfortunate things about him.”
Times officials declined to comment.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/10/14/top-1-own-half
The top one percent of the wealthiest people on the planet own nearly fifty percent of the world’s assets while the bottom fifty percent of the global population combined own less than one percent of the world’s wealth.
Those are the findings of an annual report by the investment firm Credit Suisse released Tuesday—the 2014 Global Wealth Report (pdf)—which shows that global economic inequality has surged since the financial collapse of 2008.
According to the report, “global wealth has grown to a new record, rising by $20.1 trillion between mid-2013 and mid-2014, an increase of 8.3%, to reach $263 trillion – more than twice the $117 trillion recorded for the year 2000.”
Though the rate of this wealth creation has been particularly fast over the last year—the fastest annual growth recorded since the pre-crisis year of 2007—the report notes that the benefits of this overall growth have flowed disproportionately to the already wealthy. And the report reveals that as of mid-2014, “the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets.”
Campaigners at Oxfam International, which earlier this put out their own report on global inequality (pdf), said the Credit Suisse report, though generally serving separate aims, confirms what they also found in terms of global inequality.
“These figures give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favour of the wealthiest. In poor countries, rising inequality means the difference between children getting the chance to go to school and sick people getting life saving medicines,” Oxfam’s head of inequality Emma Seery, told the Guardian in response to the latest study.
In addition to giving an overall view of trends in global wealth, the authors of the Credit Suisse gave special attention to the issue of inequality in this year’s report, noting the increasing level of concern surrounding the topic. “The changing distribution of wealth is now one of the most widely discussed and controversial of topics,” they write, “Not least owing to [French economist] Thomas Piketty’s recent account of long-term trends around inequality. We are confident that the depth of our data will make a valuable contribution to the inequality debate.”
According to the report:
In almost all countries, the mean wealth of the top decile (i.e. the wealthiest 10% of adults) is more than ten times median wealth. For the top percentile (i.e. the wealthiest 1% of adults), mean wealth exceeds 100 times the median wealth in many countries and can approach 1000 times the median in the most unequal nations. This has been the case throughout most of human history, with wealth ownership often equating with land holdings, and wealth more often acquired via inheritance or conquest rather than talent or hard work. However, a combination of factors caused wealth inequality to trend downwards in high income countries during much of the 20th century, suggesting that a new era had emerged. That downward trend now appears to have stalled, and posssibly gone into reverse.
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On Friday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen warned that “income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years”. On Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for federal student loan refinancing, and declared: “The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it.” On Sunday, along with a secret memo that threatened “crushing” defeats, there was the headline on the front page of the New York Times: “Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate”.
Inequality: it’s all anybody can talk about … except Democrats on the campaign trail who, with two weeks before Election Day, desperately need to turn out the very people so disproportionately affected by it – young and minority voters.
Sure, the teacher-backed Super-Pacs are hitting Republicans from Arkansas and North Carolina to Hawaii and back again for wanting to “shut down” public education. Yes, ignoring affordable housing is the stuff attack ads are made of.
But housing and education are issues of inequality that have solutions, not just stump-speech lines or YouTube-ready complaints. And if Democrats have any hope left in the midterms, they cannot be this shamefully muted on bold progressive policies that could dramatically improve the lives of voters who just happen to hold the keys to a majority of the United States Senate.
Barack Obama’s neglect on foreclosure has been well-documented. The housing crisis turned countless former homeowners into renters and, now, into would-be voters in dire straits. More than four in 10 of very low-income US households have no access to subsidized housing, and are instead paying more than 50% of their income in rent, living in horrific conditions or both. We have about as much public housing today as we did in the mid-1970s, losing 10,000 units per year, even though the US population is now 47% bigger.
An easy fix would be to simply expand the stock of affordable housing, especially units available to low- and moderate-income households. And believe it or not, the Obama administration has the unilateral authority to do so, without Congress. The National Housing Trust Fund, a program created during the second Bush administration, was never actually funded. But the National Low Income Housing Coalition believes we could end homelessness in America in 10 years if it was funded now. So what are Democrats so afraid of?
Money for the fund is supposed to come from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but their regulator – the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – has been preventing the cash from flowing. Now Fannie and Freddie are profitable, and putting all of those profits towards deficit reduction, instead of setting aside a small portion for people who need somewhere to live.
Monica Roberts can send me up the wall. That said she is one damned powerful advocate.
Just as folks helped Tina and I avoid foreclosure last month Please try to do the same for Monica if you can.
Alright, Bilerico family, we need your help.
Many of you know former contributor Monica Roberts. She’s a force of nature: the award-winning blogger behind TransGriot; a founding member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition; an accomplished writer, lecturer, organizer, conference speaker, and activist; a proud trans woman of color, and a passionate advocate for transgender civil rights.
And today, she was this close to being homeless, after being unjustly evicted from her home in Houston, Texas by an intolerant family member.
In the 20 years I’ve been transtioned, while I’ve dealt with unemployment, I’ve always managed on one level or another to keep a roof over my head and avoid being part of that trans homeless narrative. Until now.
Due to a confluence of events, I’m about to get bounced from the place I’ve called home for the last four years, and one of the relocation options I was counting on fell through.
So I’m staring at the prospect of being part of the transgender homeless stats…
Those stats Monica’s talking about are sobering: one in five trans people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives due to discrimination and family rejection. Trans people even face discrimination when they seek help at homeless shelters: 29% of trans people facing homelessness report being turned away due to their transgender status, and 42% say they’ve been forced to stay in a shelter living as their wrong gender.
We can’t let this happen to Monica. She’s been there for so many of us, and now it’s time for us to be there for her.
Thankfully, the online queer community found Monica a place to stay in Houston during the month of November and a guest bedroom to crash at between now and then. (Yes, she literally had to leave today.) But because she’s been an unpaid, live-in caretaker for her grandmother, she doesn’t have cash for the basic everyday living expenses that she’ll need now that she’s on her own.
I know how amazingly generous the Bilerico family is, so I’m asking you to direct that generosity over to our sister Monica during her time of need.
Please join Bil and me in sending some cash Monica’s way — click the button below to donate. Let’s show this fierce advocate that we’ve got her back.