8 people own half the world's wealth: Is that a good thing?

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  1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
    TessSchlesingerposted 6 years ago

    The eight richest men in the world own half the world's wealth. This means that the other half is owned by 7.5 billion people. Oxfam, the British charity, which has been following the upward flow of wealth for the last decade says "‘This concentration of wealth at the top is holding back the fight to end global poverty,’ the report says, also claiming that executive pay in the UK is out of control." It appears that there is now a concerted movement to limit top executive pay.

    There are a lot of negative consequences to a) the vast inequality  and b) the fall out from producing that type of wealth.

    Periodically, throughout world history, there have been revolutions when the poor slaughtered the rich. Both the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were a consequence of the poor led by the middle class in overthrowing the wealthy. Neither ended well. The French Revolution resulted in the Napoleonic wars and the Russian Revoution ended in totalitariansm..

    Another consequence of virtually all wealth belonging to the top 5% is the rise of dictatorship and fascism. It is no coincidence that those countries with the poorest people also have the highest likelihood of having fascist regimes (dictatorships). At the end of WW1, massive fines were imposed on Germany. This impoverished the people, and from the poverty, another dictator arose. Of course, the people needed a scapegoat, and Hitler blamed the Jews, the gypsies, and any dissidents he could find.

    The Great Depression was a consequence of rural America not being particularly interested in buying all the products that industry produced so the market was flooded with goods and companies went bankrupt. Along came Edward Bernays, Freud's nephew, and said, "I can show you how to control the world's population and make them buy from you forever."

    And so he did. In fact, Hitler was the first politician to use his methodology. It does something like this.

    The human brain learns 'truth' by hearing the same thing over and over again. If you tell people the same thing over and over again, no matter how obvious the lies are, they will believe it. All religion is based on that. Keep telling people the same thing over and over again, and people will accept what they are told without question. He called his invention advertising and public relations.  More impolitic words would be indoctrination and brainwashing.

    The massive amount of production has caused pollution which has led to the current mass extinction, air pollution, soil pollution, water pollution, and the pollution, in turn, has led to climate change. And all the goods have landed up in the massive landfills.

    The wealth of the few is manipulating governments throughout the world. Politicians are bought and they then create public policies which are good for the wealthy and terrible for everybody else. They use 'brainwashing' techniques (frequent repetition) to make people believe what they are saying. Here are some examples.

    1. They keep saying that they are going to create jobs. Not going to happen. Robots are taking over, and it's going to happen very, very fast.

    2. They keep telling us that if we don't work ourselves to death (or dont' work at all), then we are bad, bad people. The truth is that in the 60s, already, we reached a point where we could produce enough for ourselves and work a 10 to 20 hour a week, and everybody could have enough.

    3. They keep telling us that the rich are super special, that they have super abilities that we don't have, that without them, we couldn't create jobs or provide for ourselves. They tell us that there would be no innovation. The funny thing is that numerous studies over the last few decades have disproved all this. But because we keep hearing it over and over again (brainwashing), we believe it.

    So we now have global populist (this means class warfare where the poor begin to vote against the rich) movements...

    I have two questions for you, and I would ask that you consider the world, not just your particular country.

    1. What do you think is going to happen.
    2. How can we fix the situation?


    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      "The eight richest men in the world own half the world's wealth."

      The value of the real estate in just one borough of one American city (Manhattan, NYC) is many times the combined wealth of the wealthiest 8 men in the world.  The wealth spent by the US government each and every year is also many times that figure.  The claim that they own half the world is false to the point of being ludicrous - it would seem that you have been brainwashed.

      1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
        TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Which borough is that? How many people own it? And what is its worth?

        https://www.japantoday.com/category/wor … tion-oxfam

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-16/e … am/8185172

        This calculation is done every year. Last year, it was the top 65 and the year before that the top 85.

        That said, there is this to counter that argument.

        http://fusion.net/story/380433/oxfams-d … isleading/

        The counter argument is here, but it's somewhat unclear.

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-16/e … am/8185172

        Wilderness, the more detailed one is in response, the more it is likely someone will change their mind. Giving detailed information is what is required. That is what I'm asking for.

        Please show the exact worth of the property and how you reached that figutre.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          You need to spend some time reading that "fusion" link.

          You said "The eight richest men in the world own half the world's wealth."  Your link says those same eight men own 0.16% of the world's wealth.  Now, any way you look at it, 0.50 (one half) does NOT equal .0016 (what portion the eight men own). 

          Then the link goes on to further negate your claim, discussing the manner in which the wealth is calculated and using debt to negate ownership.  The bottom line is that the claim that eight people own half the world is truly ludicrous.

          (Which borough?  I mentioned Manhattan.  How many people own it?  Undetermined and irrelevant.  What is it worth?  Haven't a clue, except that it is far more than the $1T your eight men are worth.  Real estate in Manhattan isn't cheap! big_smile)

          1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
            TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            I read all the links I gave you. The fact that I provide links that oppose my OP means that I am looking at it objectively. That said I didn't write it clearly. It's actually that 8 people own as much wealth as the bottom half. The rest of it still applies and I would like your opinion on it. Willing to give it?

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              Better.  Much better.  But I would still question it, and rather heavily.

              Who owns most of Alaska?  The US government.  What is the US government?  All of the citizenry.  Should we then assign 1/320,000,000 of the value of Alaska to each citizen?  Government owned real estate, just in the US, if split equally among all citizens makes the link wrong as well...assuming that you are including poor Americans in the bottom half of the people of earth (which they are not).

              And that brings up another subject - the links use people of the third world to compare against the very top of the industrialized and rich nations.  You don't find that just a bit spun and twisted? 

              Of course, I already mentioned that the calculations used in all the links use net worth, which is often a far different matter.  You see, a credit card debt means you can't own a car or a house - even if you do own that wealth outright, the arithmetic used takes it away because of irrelevant debt. As far as opinion on the rest of it:

              1.  No robots aren't going to take over jobs real fast.  It may happen (leaving just a relative handful of jobs) but I doubt it and it certainly isn't going to happen in less than many decades.  Robots have a use in factories and a handful of other places, but the technology to put them to general work isn't there and won't be for a long time.

              2.  Typical gross liberal exaggeration.  The world, even now, has never seen the time when 10 or even 20 hours per week of work will sustain a family.  Or even an individual - even Robinson Crusoe, living off berries easily picked, spent more time than that feeding, clothing and housing himself. 

              3.  You might believe the rich are special - the typical American conservative does not.  You might believe you cannot provide jobs (as your hubs provide HP jobs) - most people do not.  Once more, this statement is nothing but far left, liberal, gross exaggeration.


              1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
                TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                I'm not sure how to respond to your point about sharing Alaska. Do you honestly think that is I what I think?

                Until the Industrial Revolution, human beings worked a 20 hour week. That is recorded in documents in Europe and the UK where hours were noted. Every second day in the UK was some holiday or other, and the working day stretched from about 4 hours to 16 hours depending on the season..  Could you please mention your source for the information that human beings have worked 40 hour weeks for as long as they have been in existence. That way I can update mine. I only adapt my world view when I have been provided with sufficient accurate evidence from university studies. I would be grateful to receive that.

                I am going to quote from a paper at MIT.

                "Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that working hours in the mid-nineteenth century constitute the most prodigious work effort in the entire history of humankind."

                http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/r … kweek.html

                You might like to read the entire paper. They might have worked 9 or 16 hour days during harvent, but essentially only worked between 120 and 150 days per year.

                I would also like to understand why you think all scholars who show that historically people didn't work more than 20 hours per week are, internationally, liberals. Why would academics, internationally, lie about something like that? And why would all scholars in this particular field be liberals?

                I don't understand that. Please can you also provide an academic source for that information. I always like to be as accurate as possible in whatever I say.

                Saying that everything I say is gross liberal exaggeration is not a rebuttal of what I am saying. You actually need to give a reason (attached to some facts why it is not accurate.

                In the interest of fair disclosure, I lived for 11 years in the States as a legal immigrant. I am, however a dual German/South African citizen and have lived most of my life is socialist democracies (Germany, Spain, the UK, etc.)

                1. wilderness profile image95
                  wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  "Until the Industrial Revolution, human beings worked a 20 hour week. "

                  Did you include the time spent in the garden?  The time spent weaving cloth and sewing clothing?  The time spent hunting and then butchering and salting the meat?  The time spent creating new tools to do these things?  Time spent making candles to be able to work more hours in the winter?  Time spent chopping firewood rather than buying electricity from fruits of a job? 

                  Easy to say that farmers before the industrial revolution only worked 20 hours per week - to prove such a thing is not going to be possible.  And if you fail to include tasks now paid for by employee work  rather than on "free" time then you are comparing apples to oranges.

                  "When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time. "

                  Disagree.  What took their time was greed: greed for what they didn't have and thus must work additional hours for.  It was never capitalism that forced more work hours.

                  I have the "diary" of my ancestor that homesteaded around 1900.  Long after the industrial revolution, but that revolution had little effect in his life.  Far outside "civilization", he was responsible for everything in his world.  He did split and sell a few fence rails, but by far the bulk of his time went to his home, farm and food supply.  And, judging from that book, his workday was from sunup to sundown and further in the winter with it's short days. 

                  "I would also like to understand why you think all scholars who show that historically people didn't work more than 20 hours per week are, internationally, liberals."

                  I did not mean that, although nearly all academics in the US are far left liberals.  What WAS meant was that the findings of those scholars are spun to indicate something that wasn't true, like forgetting to add in the "work" time to spin cloth and make clothing. 

                  Gross exaggeration: again, comparing an employee relationship (a job) from today with one from 500 years ago just isn't reasonable for the reasons given.  To then say that it was the idea of selling labor and products (capitalism) that caused the long work weeks, based on a comparison that is deeply flawed, is a good example of that exaggeration.

                  One of the things inherent in capitalism is that a person can be a specialist, be really good, at only two or three things.  They can be very good at spinning thread, they can be very good at weaving cloth.  They cannot also be very good at sewing clothing, creating scissors (knives?) or needles, transporting finished clothing, making measuring devices, etc.  So one spins, one sews, the blacksmith makes scissors, the carpenter makes the folding rule, etc. and commerce (capitalism) is born.  And because everyone is very good at their task, there is more clothing for fewer hours worked than there would be otherwise.  They even have enough left to sell to buy groceries, made by an expert farmer!

                  So rather than going through the web, searching for "proof" that selling labor is evil and anyone buying it is even more so, it might pay to simply sit back and think about what is being said and search through that for inconsistencies or other things that common sense says isn't working.  Like working 20 hours per week for all the things that we have.

                  1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
                    TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    Wow. Will get back to you later. I am inclined to ask though, how stupid do you think we are.

                    The things you mention were considered work in those days. I also live in Africa and see how indigenous people live.

                  2. TessSchlesinger profile image59
                    TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    Tell me, Wilderness, have you ever spent time in an academic environment where it's not about what you think, but about scholarship. The link I gave you wasn't about what I thought or what the person who wrote it thought it is information that comes from records kept from 500 years ago, from a 1000 years ago. While America is a very new country, the old world is called the old world precisely because it has been going for somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 years (depending on how far you want to go back.)

                    So, yes, weaving was considered work, and it was added into the 20 hours odd. And they had ever second day as a public holiday. That's just how life was back then.

                    I'm also not quite sure why you're bringing capitalism into this. I can only assue that you see everything in terms of capitalism and communism and those are the only two paradigms that exist for you.

                    Capitalism, incidentally, replaced mercantilsm about 250 years ago and is a fairly recent addition to human economic systems. It was created by the aristocacy in order to keep wealth in the upper echelons. It succeeded very well at that until the Unions came along and people demanded decent working hours, etc.

                    Trade, of course, has always been with human kind, but then, wer'e not discussing trade either.

                    What the topic was about was the extreme inequality, where you thoought it would lead, and what one could do about it.

                    So you can say something like :

                    1) I don't think it's a bad thing and I think that the inequality will disappear. So we don't have to do anything.
                    2. I don't think it's a good thing and I think it could lead to civic unrest. So my idea is...

                    Do you think you can stick to the topic without denegrating me because you think I'm a liberal?


    2. profile image0
      promisemposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Tess, the conservative CNBC has a helpful way to describe what you mean:

      "Eight billionaires from around the globe are as rich as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world's population, according to a report published by Oxfam on Monday."

      1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
        TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, you are quite right. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that. My mind was ahead of my pen. I actually wrote that on facebook and on Google Plus, but not on hubpages. I can't go back and correct it. sad Oh, well, I guess I' human. I make mistakes.

        However, the gist of it is inequality, where it leads generally and asking really where it will lead specifically considering the current leadership, trends, etc.

        What do you think?

        1. profile image0
          promisemposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          They are the new royalty with massive power to bend laws in their favor. Democracy is declining quickly.

          I think those numbers are low. They are only estimates based on identifiable holdings.

          The list also leaves out Putin, who many think is actually the richest person in the world.

          1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
            TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            That's really interesting. I did read when the scandal broke about various tax havens about Putin's wealth, but don't know too much about it.

            Yes, I also think democracy is on the decline. I think we are entering a Dysopian period. Not sure how it will play out, though. That's why I have posted in three different places to ascertain what people think. Most people don't really extrapolate from current events to see what the future brings. I've been reading dozens of think tanks and futurology sites.

            On one hand, it's all very exciting. The technology that is coming online currently and in the next 5 to 20 years will change our lives in ways we could not imagine. However, there is going to be a cost, and all think tanks said that the inequality will increase even more.

            The pentagon did a video some years ago that said that civil unrest will increase and I wonder if that is why the police have been miliarized in the States, and why they are thinking about it in the UK/

  2. profile image0
    calculus-geometryposted 6 years ago

    The articles you linked to say "World's 8 richest men own as much wealth as poorest half of world's population."  That's not the same thing as owning half the world's wealth.  The bottom 50% of the population own much less than half the world's wealth because wealth is not uniformly distributed.  If you sit down and think about it for a bit, you'll see that the two things are different

    Anyway, since you're interested in wealth distribution, Savills of the UK estimated the total value of all real estate on Earth to be 217 trillion $USD in this interesting report:

    http://pdf.euro.savills.co.uk/global-re … s-2016.pdf

    1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
      TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      That's a brilliant reply. Thank you for pointing that out. In my links to Wilderness, the last one is an article on why the Oxfam figures are not what they seem. I got lost! Any comment?

  3. chef-de-jour profile image97
    chef-de-jourposted 6 years ago

    Statistics and facts are so frustrating. Eight men own 50% of the world's wealth. Hardly a surprise. Hasn't it been this way since we started to measure wealth? In a few centuries time it could be that 10 women own 60% of the wealth? And most of those women will come from China or India. Measurement of wealth is another puzzle - only economists and accountans can really work it out - we just see the end results.
    The few control the many. That is fundamentally wrong a part of my mind says, but another part declares that this is the way the ant's nest works, for good or for bad. Here in the UK around 7% of the population own 84% of the wealth, which inspired a theatre company to form back in the day - 7:84 - a socialist venture which lasted a decade or so before the market forces undermined such ideals. And we've always had the Queen (and sometimes a KIng), who owns incalculable wealth, including a diamond which could probably buy a medium sized country. Right now large parts of London, the classy bits, are owned by Russian oligarchs, who buy up property, keep it standing and wait for the markets to improve. The world's elite pull the strings, sponsor politicians, the military, the media, to keep the status quo. Occasionally a mini revolution might break out here and there with the aim of getting rid of such inequalities and corruption but history shows that sooner or later powermongers, manipulators and psychopaths rise to the top and the sycle starts all over again, in a slightly different guise.
    Personally I think it's not a good thing and in an ideal world I would love for the wealth to be spread around a bit more! I mean, how much does a rich person need? I guess that's the same as asking how long is a piece of string? Rich people always want more, it goes without saying, although I did hear of a Californian CEO recently who decided to give up his annual bonus and draw an equal salary to that of his workers. A minor miracle.
    Poor people will always want more, won't they? Who wouldn't want to give poorer people a fair share and help them get on in the world? How many well meaning politicians have come along promising to close the gap between rich and poor? And how long before the markets and corporate investment and influence begin to make these political statements mere rhetoric?
    How many politicians have come along and promised a fairer tax system? Tax the rich to kingdom come would be a good thing wouldn't it? Close all the loopholes and clamp down on the tax dodgers. That would bring in more money for public services, for the poorer people to benefit. But what in reality happens? These idealistic notions get b uried in goverment processes and inhouse bickerings. Lawyers are hired to help giant companies avoid paying tax. Politicians are left spinning stories, the public remain sceptical and the rich manage to get richer. 
    In an ideal world I could give you the perfect answer, I could name a country where wealth is distributed equally to everyone but I don't think such a country exists. Even Sweden struggles with wealth inequality : http://econlife.com/2016/04/swedish-wea … tribution/
    Your question is best answered by an accountant or someone who knows about world finances and how markets work.

    1. TessSchlesinger profile image59
      TessSchlesingerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      First you have to look at the culture that breeds inequality. Other mammals have leaders, but the leaders do not take virtually everything from the other animals in their packs.

      Archeologists have also recently unearthed a village in which there were no hierarchies.

      I would say that this is more a social system that has been passed down from parents to children and is indoctrinated by the community we live in.

      People are taught that they will be better respected and admired if they achieve wealth and status. That is why they will do anything to get it. I am not alone in thinking that. Alaine De Botton has mentioned it several times as well (School of Life,  London.).

      You said, "I did hear of a Californian CEO recently who decided to give up his annual bonus and draw an equal salary to that of his workers."

      San Franciscan company who paid everybody in his company (including himself) $70,000 per year. He was immediately outlawed by many of his clients because the was setting an example they didn't want to follow. The company is still going. The staff are highly motivated and they are struggling along.

      Until human beings are socialized differently with a different set of values, as far as I can see, the status quo will not change.

      I don't think it will continue for much longer than a another century, though. Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse, shows repeated scenarios where people simply died out.  I think the same will happen to us.

  4. profile image0
    ahorsebackposted 6 years ago

    Why do so many people have this issue with the "inequalities of wealth "  ,  And yet ,Can't see the difference enough to recognize that the "smarter" person is going to be  ,more than likely ,  the richer one ?   Isn't this a direct product of  I.Q.  , genetics , personal drive , social standing , etc......
    We are neither born  equal in intellect nor economic standing ,  we are not all born with the same drive for success  nor  ability to rise through the masses for either gaining in riches nor engaging intellect with economics.


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