With a level playing field, we wouldn't have to rely on largesse of billionaires
The world’s 2,150 billionaires are collectively worth $10 trillion.
That’s 30 times the amount needed annually to end extreme poverty around the globe.
Many of the ultra-rich, including in SA, have donated billions of dollars to boost the battle against Covid-19.
But this wouldn't be necessary if we had a more equal playing field to start with says Just Share, a local non-profit shareholder activism organisation.
Billionaires' wealth increased by $3.9 trillion between March 18 and December 30 2020, according to the Oxfam report titled "The Inequality Virus".
Just Share's work is driven by the belief that responsible investment is necessary to create a just, inclusive and sustainable economy.
Bruce Whitfield interviews Tracey Davies, Just Share's Executive Director.
What's most scary to me about this [Oxfam] report is, living in South Africa we already had an inequality virus long before the pandemic struck, as did the rest of the world.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
There was a really big push to try and address that; an acknowledgment that it was a real risk to global prosperity and peace and economic justice, and then along came the virus!Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
What it's done is just exacerbate inequality in extraordinary ways. As usual, it's done so by exacerbating existing inequalities in relation to wealth, gender and race.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
In view of this harsh reality can countries around the world afford to continue implementing lockdowns despite the devastating impact of the virus?
It's not as if those 200- or 500 million people [thrust back into poverty] can simply bounce back or all be vaccinated... most are in countries like ours where the vaccine is probably years off for them...Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
It'll take decades for them to regain what they've lost over the past 12 months, but in the meantime those who started off this pandemic in a cushy situation can sit back and wait for things to pass.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
Developed countries can still offer those who've lost their livelihoods significant government support she points out, but in a country like South Africa this support has dried up.
It's drastically awful and devastating for our country and for our prospects of solving our inequality problems.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
Davies says the discussion around wealth taxes and better monitoring of tax evasion is reflective of a growing understanding across the globe about how capitalism works in its current form.
These should be seen as calls to rebalance and reset our economic system.
It does not just simply reward the brightest and most talented with the rest receiving the trickle-down benefits, she says.
It's a human and ecological extraction machine and it's designed to favour those who started off ahead of everyone else and the pandemic has proved this!Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
The world's richest people are richer now than they were before the pandemic and so our complete failure to deal with the downsides of the way our economy functions is the reason we're now facing these global crises, not just inequality but climate and ecological crises.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
While some have been generous with contributions during the pandemic, remember that they have largely reached their level of wealth through resisting the sacrifices that would result in real change in society, she cautions.
Listen to the insightful discussion on The Money Show:
This article first appeared on 702 : With a level playing field, we wouldn't have to rely on largesse of billionaires
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