Getting rich is an earnest human desire and has been encouraged widely. Riches bring ease and fulfill wishes and are pursued with vigour and commitment. Creating wealth is certainly an exercise worth pursuing and helps in bringing financial advantages to communities and countries. The problem, however, is that the acquisition of vast wealth by few individuals is adding to an already existing massive inequality across the globe. It is now known that the world’s billionaires are growing $2.5 billion richer every day while the poorest half of the global population is seeing its net worth dwindle. The top 26 billionaires own $1.4trillion that is as much as 3.8 billion other people.
The concentration of wealth is now reported to be in a record number of 2,208 billionaires and they have more wealth than ever before. Just a decade after the global financial crisis the flourish in the number of billionaires has seen their numbers getting doubled. The estimates were released during the Davos congregation organised by the World Economic Forum. This meeting also attracts some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world gathering together to debate burning issues.
The report released in Davos was meant to call attention to the growing gap between rich and poor. Most of these mega-wealthy are American including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who collectively are worth $357billion. The critics recommend that nations tax wealth at fairer levels, raise rates on personal income and corporate taxes and eliminate tax avoidance by companies and the super-rich. They also advocate providing universal free health care, education and other public services — and ensuring that women and girls also benefit. Moreover, they emphasise more investment in public services — including water, electricity and childcare — to free up women’s time and limit the number of unpaid hours they work.
The urge for reforms aimed at creating more equality is now strongly felt in many parts of the world. The debate on introducing an effective tax system is gaining ground through which equity in wealth may be brought about. Many economists advocate taxing the wealthy to the tune of 70 percent to re-channelise financial resources to a larger number of people. It is often lamented that in many countries, a decent education or quality healthcare has become a luxury only the rich can afford. It is also pointed out that every day 10,000 people die because they lack access to affordable healthcare.
The impact is disproportionately felt by women as girls are pulled out of school first when the money is not available to pay fees, and women clock up hours of unpaid work looking after sick relatives when healthcare systems fail. It is also estimated that if all the unpaid care work carried out by women across the globe was done by a single company, it would have an annual turnover of $10 trillion.
The wealth inequality is acutely felt in countries like Pakistan where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing day by day. The rich class in Pakistan has absolutely no scruples to care for the needy and it exists in a world of its own monopolising all aspects of decent life leaving nothing for the needy. The impact of this gross inequality is proving negative for the growth of the country with large number of people living below the poverty line. TW
Hoor Asrar Rauf has remained a swimming champion and is a budding entrepreneur