MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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According to a new study by Oxfam, as reported (by McClatchy) in the Miami Herald, less than 100 of the richest people in the world have amassed economic assets and income roughly equal to 50% of the world's population:
The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
That means the world’s poorest 3.55 billion people must live on what the richest 85 possess. Another way to look at it: Each of the wealthiest 85 has access to the same resources as do about 42 million of the world’s poor, a number equal to the populations of Canada, Kentucky and Kansas, taken together.
The report was issued just before The World Economic Forum opens on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland. The forum is a gathering spot for world political, academic and business leaders where, the forum’s website says, they “shape global, regional and industry agendas."
Oxfam echoes what many have warned: the mega-concentration of the world's financial assets in the hands of so few undermines the very viability of democracy.
Given that the United States so often justifies wars on the basis of extending democracy -- and given the comparable accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few in the US -- it would not be cynical, but rather entirely appropriate, to ask if wars are fought on behalf of furthering the amassing of wealth by the few through the conquest or maintenance of control over markets or energy and mineral supplies.
Indeed, much of government activity -- such as the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated by corporations and in large part subservient nation states without the disinfectant of transparency or the particpation of workers, environmental or civil liberties groups -- is an egregious example of how the veneer of democracy is used to advance the interests of corporations and concentrated wealth.
The Oxfam study emphasized a point that BuzzFlash at Truthout has been making for sometime: the tale of two economies. The rich are getter enormously more wealthy, as the rest of the world's inhabitants become poorer due to wealth redistribution to the top 1%:
The report also said that while the recent financial crisis was an enormous burden on the world’s poor, it ended up being a huge benefit to the rich elite. The very wealthiest people on Earth collected 95 percent of the post-crisis growth, the report said.
The report said that the trend is more pronounced in the United States than in other nations, but hardly limited to the U.S. It said that in only two countries, Colombia and the Netherlands, had the share of income received by the wealthiest 1 percent not increased between 1980 and 2012.
American Exceptionalism is now pretty much limited to it being a great engine to pump more money into the hands of a small sub-section of the 1% at the expense of the rest of the US and world population.
Democracy depends upon a well-informed public, but that is impossible when so much wealth in so few hands controls the disemminator of information about public policy: the media.
Much was made of Barack Obama heralding a post-racial society when he was elected in 2008. That turned out to be anything but accurate when all the racists and white-firsters came out of the woodwork and mounted a war on the legitimacy of a non-white president using code words and fictions worthy of a scurrilous coven of bigotry.
However, what is actually occurring -- given the redistribution of income and assets at such an accelerating pace to so few -- is a post-rational age. This is because the press is, in large part, owned by the ruling economic elite who ensure that news is either entertainment, misinformation, government positions or propaganda for the most part. As wealth increases among a small plutocracy, so does the percentage of low information voters.
Public policy in the US has largely become a war over emotional tugs and pulls (through focus group words and phrases that trigger anger, hate, resentment and frustration) employed by the likes of the GOP (and their megaphones such as FOX and Rush Limbaugh, etc.) and their billionaire independent funders -- such as the Koch brothers -- versus the "rationality" of centrist (pro-corporate but generally supportive of the social safety net) Democrats and even much of the progressive movement.
The demagogues protecting and increasing their horde of money know that a centimeter beneath rationality lies the reptilian emotional core of the human species that has existed since we first began to walk on two feet in pre-historic times.
And they have the money to manipulate those emotions until the vast majority of the world's residents become nothing more than powerless economically needy pawns as nationhood and individual economies become only means for the new financial royalty to rule the earth.
They have no need for democracy -- in fact, they have contempt for it -- except as a jingoistic phrase to advance strategies that increase their incomprehensible fortunes.
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