At the opening of the Davos Forum on Monday, Oxfam once again makes a damning observation on the state of wealth distribution around the world. “Every billionaire is a failure of public policy,” propagates the NGO in a report and advocates halving their number by 2030 through taxation before “abolishing” the billionaires in the longer term.
“Economic inequality has reached an extreme and dangerous level,” writes the international organization in its annual report on inequality and is launching an exchange between business and political elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos by January 20. Large fortunes have skyrocketed over the past decade, driven by rising stock prices: for every $100 of wealth created, $54.4 went into the pockets of the richest 1%, while 70 cents benefited the bottom 50%.
The “crucial” role of taxation
The billionaires have doubled their fortunes and are growing in number, confirms Oxfam, whose general director Gabriela Bucher is invited to Switzerland. “However, the extreme concentration of wealth undermines economic growth, corrupts politicians and the media, corrodes democracy and increases polarization,” writes the NGO, adding that inequality “has become an existential threat to our societies, affecting our ability to contain it that paralyzes poverty”. and put “the future of the planet (…) in jeopardy”.
According to the organization, taxation plays a “vital” role in reducing the number of billionaires on the planet and must impact the income and capital of the wealthiest. Measures proposed in this report include a special wealth tax, a dividend tax and an increase in taxes on labor and capital income for the top 1%. Capital, a financial stroke of luck “much more important than wages” for the large fortunes, should be taxed more heavily on the profits made, especially through the sale of shares, but also through simple ownership, the organization emphasizes.
Corporate “super-profits” are also a target of Oxfam, which, amid the war in Ukraine, is proposing to tax windfall profits, such as the billions oil companies have raked in in recent months thanks to soaring energy prices, more heavily. According to the NGO, these measures would bring the billionaires’ wealth and numbers back to where they were in 2012 before the numbers carried away.