Billionaire Boom a Sign of Economic Failure
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
It reflects the ravages of predatory capitalism, rewarding the super-rich at the expense of most others in societies – exploited so its privileged class can benefit hugely.
It’s a global sickness, fostering unacceptable extreme inequality, highlighted in a new Oxfam report titled “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” its executive director Winnie Byanyima saying:
“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system.”
“The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”
Anju sews clothes for export in Bangladesh. She works up to 12 hours daily, skips meals for lack of enough money. She earns around $900 a year.
Vietnamese garment worker Lan said she continued working after getting pregnant, saying “(t)here were many boxes full of shoes, and my job was to put the stamp on.”
“Those shoes would fit my son perfectly. They are very nice. I’d like my son to have shoes like these, but he can’t.”
“I think he’d want them, and I feel sorry for him. The shoes are very pretty. You know that one pair of shoes that we make is valued more than our whole month’s salary.”
Last year saw the largest number of billionaires created in a 12-month period. Oxfam reported a new one every two days – 2,043 billionaires worldwide, 90% men.
Their increased wealth last year amounted to around $762 billion – “enough to end extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all of the growth in global wealth in the last year went to the top 1%, whereas the bottom 50% saw no increase at all,” Oxfam explained.
Most workers worldwide earn poverty or sub-poverty wages. They’re “denied basic rights,” women exploited worst of all. Garment worker Fatima in Bangladesh is abused for failure to meet quotas, “and gets sick because she is unable to go to the toilet.”
US chicken factory worker Dolores suffers permanent disability. She can’t hold her children’s hands.
Thai hotel worker Minti is sexually harassed by male guests, told to endure it or get fired. Instead of alleviating inequality in Western countries and elsewhere, it’s unaddressed in most everywhere.
According to Oxfam, billionaire wealth increased an average of 13% since 2010. Wages for ordinary people fail to keep pace, adjusted for inflation.
In four days, a corporate garment producer CEO earns as much as a Bangladeshi worker sewing the company’s clothes in a lifetime.
Women doing dangerous work are the most underpaid and abused.
According to Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring, its report addressed a system “failing the millions of hardworking people on poverty wages who make our clothes and grow our food,” adding:
“For work to be a genuine route out of poverty, we need to ensure that ordinary workers receive a living wage and can insist on decent conditions, and that women are not discriminated against.”
“If that means less for the already wealthy then that is a price that we – and they – should be willing to pay.”
Not in predatory capitalist societies, exploiting workers so super-rich bosses can benefit.
The solution calls for revolutionary change, rebelling against a debauched system, replacing it with an equitable one.
America’s three richest billionaires have more wealth than the nation’s least well-off 50%.
A system tolerating global billionaires at the expense of billions of poor and impoverished people worldwide is debauched and unfixable.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”