For the last year, working class people across the country have had to listen to spin in the media about the so-called economic recovery. We are told about Ireland having one of the fastest growing economies in the Eurozone, profits for multi-nationals are up, and property prices along with rents are sky-rocketing.
Yet, for the majority of people there has been no improvement in their situation. This has resulted in the growth of inequality in Ireland, with a TASC report showing that Ireland is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Inequality across the globe is developing more and more as a small minority increase their wealth to obscene levels while billions survive in poverty.
A recent report by Oxfam on global wealth showed that the 1%, the richest individuals in the world now own 48% of the world’s wealth. This has increased from 44% over the course of the crisis and if it continues they will own 52% of the wealth by 2016. In the latest Forbes rich-list there were 1,826 billionaires, an increase of 181 on the previous year. In 2010 just 388 of these had the same amount of wealth as the bottom 50% of the world’s population. Since then we have seen the concentrated growth of wealth in the hands of a smaller and smaller group of super-rich individuals so that now just 80 people hold the same wealth as the bottom 50%. Between 2010 -2014 according to the Forbes Rich-List, these 80 people increased their wealth from €1.3 trillion to €1.9 trillion.
The 1% uses their wealth to influence the decisions of governments and to buy politicians to protest their own interests. Two of the major industries from which the 1% derives their wealth are finance and pharmaceuticals. In 2013 in the US finance companies spent more than €400m on lobbying, in 2012 they ‘donated’ €571m to presidential campaigns, while big pharma spent €260 in donation. In the EU, the financial industry spent €150m on lobbying while big pharma spent €50m.
The Anti-Austerity Alliance does not accept any donations from big business – once a party accepts donations from big business they will be expected to provide favours in return such as being more ‘pro-business’ meaning implementing low tax policies. The Anti-Austerity Alliance will not be beholden to any rich business people’s interests in return for donations; rather we rely on small donations and fundraising from ordinary people in working class communities across the country.
While the division between the 99% and the 1% can contrast the massive wealth inequality which exists between the super –rich and the rest of us, within the 99% there are major divisions as well.
The average wealth of one of the 1% is €2.7m; this wills that that within the 99% there will be included people who are extremely wealthy but not rich enough to be part of the 1% club. The bottom 80% of the global population owns just 5.5% of the world’s wealth or $3,851 each.
The fact that by 2016, 1% of the world’s population will own more than half the wealth in the world is an indictment of the greed of the elite and the capitalist system. The power of the 1% to shape the globe through their wealth and their system which breeds such inequality must be challenged by the 80%.