A report by Oxfam reads that the 8 richest people in the world owned approximately 50% of the world’s wealth. Its report “An economy for the 99%” states that “New estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society – especially the poorest – suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point.”
I couldn’t help but wonder as to how could that be possible? Was it because of their hard work alone that they became this rich? Or was it because of their skills alone that they accumulated so much wealth?
The answer to this lies in the historical development of the nations. The accumulation of wealth started with the growth of mercantile capitalism in Europe. It reached its epitome with the massive exploitation of labourers. The communist and socialist ideologies initially were the fight against such exploitation and thereafter the followers of these ideologies waged a war against capitalism. Resultant, nations took up ownership of the natural resources lying within their territories, which led to the rise of the concept of redistribution of resources.
The USA countered communism, which led to a cold war between it and USSR. Despite that, many nations accepted communism as a mean of governance resulting in the rise of welfare states. This brought the philosophy of equality and equity into the picture, with the nations aiming for equal distribution of resources. With the collapse of USSR (1991) the myth of invincibility of communism got dissipated. This decline of communism re-energized capitalism, further encouraging the accumulation of wealth. This led to the extreme disproportionate distribution of wealth.
Excessive accumulation was initially termed as immoral, but in present times such accumulation is attributed to the skill and intelligence of the person accumulating it. Rightly so. This has led to the idealisation of a wealthy person as a smart, intelligent person capable of making money.
In reality, including a scientific approach, it is not possible to accumulate such enormous wealth in a single lifetime. Then how did these 1% excessively rich people get their brain, which the other 99% did not own? If intelligence was the source of wealth accumulation then clearly these people must have had a higher functioning brain (biology anyone).
This level of inequality cannot be described in scientific terms. The level of inequality can be judged from the fact that the rich do not have time to enjoy their prosperity whereas the poor have ample of time but no prosperity.
Though the prosperity of these 8 people has successfully convinced the society that this is a sheer result of hard work and proper planning, which indeed is not entirely true.