A new report from Oxfam provides evidence that the super rich are a major human rights problem, becoming richer at the expense of those who are denied their rights to health care, food and economic security. More evidence from inside the US foreign policy establishment reveals how the super rich (who control the world’s energy, arms and tobacco trades, financial institutions and mainstream media) also dominate the political culture and foreign policy of the United States.
The situation is getting so bad, no self-respecting anti-poverty NGO can ignore it, and Oxfam has just issued The Cost Of Inequality: How Wealth And Income Extremes Hurt Us All a report which explains that efforts to tackle poverty are being undermined by an “explosion in extreme wealth.”
According to Oxfam’s report, the 100 richest people in the world earned enough last year to end extreme poverty suffered by the poorest on the planet four times over. Furthermore, the richest one per cent of the world’s population has increased its income by 60% in the last 20 years.
According to Oxfam’s report extreme wealth is “economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive.”
The global economic system requires reform so that it works “in the interests of the whole of humanity”.
Oxfam reports that while the world’s 100 richest people enjoyed a net income of $240bn (£150bn) last year, people in “extreme poverty” lived on less than $1.25 (78p) a day.
“We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true,” said Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking.
Oxfam’s proposals include:
• Closure of tax havens around the world
• A reversal of the trend towards more regressive forms of taxation
• A global minimum corporation tax rate
• Increased investment in free public services and safety nets for people out of work or ill
Oxfam state “It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a global elite.”
A significant example of the way the super-rich control the government, mainstream media and the political class, to the benefit of the 1% and to the detriment of humanity and human rights in general can be seen in the intimate relationship between the super-rich Saudi royal dictatorship and the ruling class in the United States.
The must-read journalist Glenn Greenwald writing in the Guardian, points to a recent memorandum from foreign policy adviser Bruce Riedel to President Obama which states that,
“Saudi Arabia is the world’s last absolute monarchy” and “like Louis XIV, King Abdallah has complete authority.”
Moreover, “the Saudi royal family has shown no interest in sharing power or in an elected legislature.”
The Saudi regime has also “helped ensure that revolution has not unseated any Arab monarch” and “the other monarchs of Arabia would inevitably be in jeopardy if revolution comes to Saudi Arabia.”
In particular, “The Sunni minority in Bahrain could not last without Saudi money and tanks. Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are city-states that would be unable to defend themselves against a Saudi revolutionary regime, despite all their money.”
Riedel argues that the US must remain steadfastly opposed to any democratic revolutions in the region “since American interests are so intimately tied to the House of Saud, the US does not have the choice of distancing the United States from it in an effort to get on the right side of history.”
Greenwald points out, “the Obama administration has continuously lavished the Saudi Kingdom with a record amount of arms and other weapons, and has done the same for the Bahraini tyranny.”
According to Greenwald, “the patently deceitful rhetoric that spews forth from US political leaders and their servants in the Foreign Policy Community when it comes time to rail against anti-US regimes in Libya, Syria and Iran. That the US and its Nato allies – eager benefactors of the world’s worst tyrants – are opposed to those regimes out of concern for democracy and human rights is a pretense, a conceit, so glaring and obvious that it really defies belief that people are willing to advocate it in public with a straight face.”
The information provided by Oxfam and by Glenn Greenwald is invaluable in understanding the processes underway in the world today and the battles that face genuine human rights activists. Oxfam should be praised for speaking truth to power. Human rights, anti-poverty and peace activists must struggle against extreme wealth. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that the leadership of mainstream human rights organisations, such as Amnesty USA, have been acting as servants of the super-rich, promoting a pro-militaristic agenda and even funded by tobacco industry profiteering billionaires.
Oxfam’s call for a new global goal to end extreme wealth by 2025, and to reverse the rapid increase in inequality seen in the majority of countries in the last twenty years, is a call which should be supported by all anti-poverty campaigners and genuine human rights activists.