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Baobab's Journal
Baobab's Journal
May 14, 2016

62 people own the same as half the world, reveals Oxfam Davos report


18 January 2016

The Oxfam report An Economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, a drop of 38 percent. This has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period. Meanwhile, the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. The report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality – of the current ‘62’, 53 are men and just nine are women.

Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, and in September agreed a global goal to reduce it, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months. Oxfam’s prediction, made ahead of last year’s Davos, that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us, actually came true in 2015 - a year earlier than expected.

Oxfam is calling for urgent action to tackle the extreme inequality crisis which threatens to undermine the progress made in tackling poverty during the last quarter of a century. As a priority, it is calling for an end to the era of tax havens which has seen the increasing use of offshore centers by rich individuals and companies to avoid paying their fair share to society. This has denied governments valuable resources needed to tackle poverty and inequality.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director, who will again attend Davos having co-chaired last year’s event, said: “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world’s population owns no more than a few dozen super-rich people who could fit onto one bus.

“World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action – the world has become a much more unequal place and the trend is accelerating. We cannot continue to allow hundreds of millions of people to go hungry while resources that could be used to help them are sucked up by those at the top.

"I challenge the governments, companies and elites at Davos to play their part in ending the era of tax havens, which is fuelling economic inequality and preventing hundreds of millions of people lifting themselves out of poverty. Multinational companies and wealthy elites are playing by different rules to everyone else, refusing to pay the taxes that society needs to function. The fact that 188 of 201 leading companies have a presence in at least one tax haven shows it is time to act."

In 2015 G20 governments agreed steps to curb tax dodging by multinationals through the BEPS agreement, however these measures will do little for the poorest countries and largely ignore the problems posed by tax havens.

Globally, it is estimated that a total of $7.6tr of individuals’ wealth sits offshore. If tax were paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments every year.

As much as 30 percent of all African financial wealth is estimated to be held offshore, costing an estimated $14 billion in lost tax revenues every year. This is enough money to pay for healthcare for mothers and children in Africa that could save 4 million children’s lives a year, and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.

Nine out of ten WEF corporate partners have a presence in at least one tax haven and it is estimated that tax dodging by multinational corporations costs developing countries at least $100 billion every year. Corporate investment in tax havens almost quadrupled between 2000 and 2014.

Allowing governments to collect the taxes they are owed from companies and rich individuals will be vital if world leaders are to meet their new goal, set last September, to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.

Although the number of people living in extreme poverty halved between 1990 and 2010, the average annual income of the poorest 10 percent has risen by less than $3-a-year in the past quarter of a century. That equates to an increase in individuals’ daily income of less than a single cent a year.

Had inequality within countries not grown between 1990 and 2010, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty.

One of the other key trends behind rising inequality set out in Oxfam’s report is the falling share of national income going to workers in almost all developed and most developing countries and a widening gap between pay at the top and the bottom of the income scale. The majority of low paid workers around the world are women.

By contrast, the already wealthy have benefited from a rate of return on capital via interest payments, dividends, etc, that has been consistently higher than the rate of economic growth. This advantage has been compounded by the use of tax havens which are perhaps the most glaring example set out in the Oxfam report of how the rules of the economic game have been rewritten in a manner that has supercharged the ability of the rich and powerful to entrench their wealth.

Oxfam is calling for action against tax havens to be part of a three-pronged attack on inequality. Action to recover the missing billions lost to tax havens needs to be accompanied by a commitment on the part of governments to invest in healthcare, schools and other vital public services that make such a big difference to the lives of the poorest people.

Governments should also take action to ensure that work pays for those at the bottom as well as for those at the top – including moving minimum wage rates towards a living wage and tackling the pay gap between men and women.

Byanyima added: “The richest can no longer pretend their wealth benefits everyone – their extreme wealth in fact shows an ailing global economy. The recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the majority and particularly the poorest people."

In addition to its inequality campaign, Oxfam will be attending Davos to press world and business leaders to tackle climate change and act to resolve humanitarian crises including that in Syria.
Notes to editors

The number of people whose wealth is equal to that of the poorest half of the world’s population since 2010:

2010: 388

2011: 177

2012: 159

2013: 92

2014: 80

2015: 62

Wealth of 1%, 50%, and 99% taken from Credit Suisse Global Wealth Datebook (2013 and 2014) https://www.credit-suisse.com/uk/en/news-and-expertise/research/credit-suisse-research-institute/publications.html

The wealth of the richest 62 was calculated using Forbes’ billionaires list http://www.forbes.com/ Annual data taken from list published in March.

Calculations include negative wealth (i.e. debt). As a robustness check, Oxfam recalculated the wealth share of wealth held by the richest 1 percent once negative wealth is excluded. It did not change significantly (falling from 50.1 percent to 49.8 percent). Negative wealth as a share of total wealth has remained constant over time, such that wealth distribution trends over time are not affected.

Download the report: An Economy for the 1% - DOWNLOAD LINK

Contact information

Jon Slater +44 (0)7876 476403 / jslater@oxfam.org.uk

For interviews with Winnie Byanyima, please contact: Anna Ratcliff +44 (0)7796993288 / anna.ratcliff@oxfaminternational.org

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.

Add your name, and let’s end the era of tax havens.


inequality corporate tax dodging tax reform davos EvenItUp poverty education women


May 13, 2016

The Pocket Trade Lawyer, 2006 Edition (Trade Deal Term Glossary)


Lori Wallach / Public Citizen
May 13, 2016

Delegates who go to convention should be enabled to negotiate better party platform planks!

The convention is just a few months away and I hear nobody talking about huge changes which need to occur in the Dem. party platform. For example, we should stop supporting trade deals that try to take over the world's future - even as jobs are going away globally, for good, and stop the US trying to block affordable public health care and higher education.

Which we are doing, people need to face that reality. Sanders is the only candidate who has a clue about the importance of this. Its not some abstract thing. Look 15 or 20 years into the future and barring some miracle, most people wont be working. Machines will do most work people do today. Its already happening. For that reason , guest worker programs that try to cheapen the value of work should be banned. Now before they become locked in by pending trade deals. Guest worker programs are not the "fix" for artificially contrived "crises" in health care and education. We're being manipulated into a very bad decision which has no basis in fact.

Guest worker programs are not the solution to need to upgrade infrastructure or health care costs. Throwing our doctors and nurses and teachers under the bus to get more bargaining chips for globalization wont fly.

We need a permanent ban on secret trade deals, all of them should be cancelled and we need to start fresh with a system which doesn try to play different groups off against one another (like US workers against developing country workers in competition for the same US jobs)

Also, to get single payer we need to dump GATS. Look at what happened in South Africa.

Thank you

May 13, 2016

“The right to regulate has to be preserved” How We can make a bigger difference than anything else

“The right to regulate has to be preserved”

the US itself has set up a huge roadblock to health care reform - restrictive t--deals that block the elements of single payer systematically, which states run into - they frustrate state plans.

the first linked document is from Maine.:

Other states also face this same road block which needs to be address at the international level- BUT THE DESIRE TO DO SO IS THERE.

Who is blocking it- The United States!! That wasn't a typo. (Some context on existing US tr/ ade deals blocks to health care reform)

Carve outs urgently need to be placed in TiSA (the new negotiations they re talking about "Friends of Services&quot -

To prevent the situation from becoming WORSE.

More info can be found in Europe at the TiSA negotiations- Europeans are fighting to be able to keep their public health care and education! .

I will add links here as I find them. Note- Europeans seem to be ignoring the earlier WTO services agreement- maybe they don't realize its there?





May 13, 2016

The GATS and South Africa's National Health Act: A Cautionary Tale (Threatens Affordable health care


The GATS and South Africa's National Health Act: A Cautionary Tale


Scott Sinclair

This (2005) study shows how South Africa’s flagship health legislation conflicts with binding commitments the former apartheid regime negotiated under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). This trade treaty conflict threatens to undermine the much-needed legislation and, if left unresolved, would make meeting the health needs of the majority of the population far more difficult. The study explores several options that South Africa has for resolving this conflict in favour of its health policy imperatives, but each entails risk. South Africa’s dilemma should serve as a world-wide warning that health policy-makers, governments and citizens need to be far more attentive to negotiations that are now underway in Geneva to expand the reach of the GATS. (now called TiSA)

The current WTO talks are now entering the final phase of negotiations. If the deadlock in agriculture is broken, there will be massive pressure on governments, especially developing country governments, to make substantial new GATS commitments. Lost in all this brinksmanship is careful consideration of the actual impacts of trade-in-services commitments on development policies.

The study provides concrete evidence of the problems WTO services commitments can cause for redistributive health policies worldwide. It also explores options for South Africa to resolve the conflict between its GATS treaty commitments and its health policies. The study includes an executive summary and a foreword by David Sanders, Professor and Director, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape.

The document Download LINK

from http://www.policyalternatives.ca

Note: A hard-copy version of this study will be published in South Africa by the South African Municipal Workers Union and the Municipal Services Project in March 2006.

“Sinclair shows how the outgoing apartheid regime, cynically or carelessly, sold South Africa’s sovereignty and the right of its citizens to a more equitable health dispensation by signing up to the GATS. By laying bare the maze of bewildering legalese embedded in the articles of the GATS he shows how this trade treaty both threatens to further commercialize South Africa’s already highly skewed health care system and also to undermine the redistributional thrust of the long-awaited National Health Act passed in 2004.”

—From the foreword by David Sanders.

May 12, 2016

The Giant Pool of Money - Inside the Subprime Lending Era




Host Ira Glass talks with an NPR business and economics correspondent about two gatherings he attended—one at the Ritz Carlton and one at a community college in Brooklyn. The first was an awards dinner for finance professionals who created the mortgage-based financial instruments that nearly brought down the global economic system. The other was a non-profit conference for people facing foreclosure. Ira explains that today's show lays out how the finance guys and the people facing foreclosure are connected by a chain of middlemen, and that together, they all brought about the current housing and credit crisis. (4 minutes) Business • Economics • Housing

Ira Glass

This American Life producer Alex Blumberg teams up with NPR's Adam Davidson for the entire hour to tell the story—the surprisingly entertaining story—of how the U.S. got itself into a housing crisis. They talk to people who were actually working in the housing, banking, finance and mortgage industries, about what they thought during the boom times, and why the bust happened. And they explain that a lot of it has to do with the giant global pool of money. (30 minutes)

Alex and Adam's story continues. (23 minutes)
May 12, 2016

Could people please save the most egregious examples of sockpuppetry they see to disk.

to disk, in whatever ways they prefer so that there is a historical record of it?

This is so in the future people can see what we were dealing with in this election.

May 12, 2016

Presidential Candidates’ Key Proposals on Health Care and Climate Will Require WTO Modifications

Presidential Candidates’ Key Proposals on Health Care and Climate Will Require WTO Modifications: Overreach of WTO Highlighted by Potential Conflicts with Candidates’ Non-Trade Proposals (2008)


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