Oxfam International has a new report out today that highlights the rapidly widening gap between the few ultra-rich and the world’s poorest. The report, titled “Profiting from Pain,” found that during the first two years of the pandemic, a new billionaire was minted every 30 hours, with a total of 573 of the world’s richest becoming billionaires during that time frame.
On the flip side, in 2022, Oxfam expects a million people to fall into extreme poverty every 33 hours—nearly the same rate a new billionaire is minted. The astonishing rate that people the world over are set to fall into extreme poverty—263 million people in 2022 alone—is due to the rapidly rising costs of living, including everything from the cost of energy to the cost of food. While the billionaires who control these assets will profit even more, hundreds of millions could be priced out of staying alive, Oxfam warns.
Announcing the release of the report, Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said:
Billionaires’ fortunes have not increased because they are now smarter or working harder. Workers are working harder, for less pay and in worse conditions. The super-rich have rigged the system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits. They have seized a shocking amount of the world’s wealth as a result of privatization and monopolies, gutting regulation and workers’ rights while stashing their cash in tax havens—all with the complicity of governments.
Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heating, falling behind on bills and wondering what they can possibly do next to survive. Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity. It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous. This is inequality that literally kills.
Other shocking findings: The world’s 2,668 billionaires own $12.7 trillion of the planet’s wealth, with the world’s 10 richest men owning more than the poorest 3.1 billion people on earth.
Oxfam is urging governments to introduce a one-off tax on billionaires’ pandemic profits to help average people pay for the rapidly rising cost of food and energy. The organization is also calling on governments to create an annual wealth tax that would see millionaires taxed on 2% of their total wealth per year and billionaires taxed on 5% of their total wealth per year.
Oxfam says such a tax would generate $2.52 trillion per year, which could provide universal health care and sufficient social protections for every resident of low- and lower-middle-income nations.