The Economy for the 99%


Progress Namibia - The Economy for the 99%
30 January 2017

The new Oxfam Briefing Paper (An Economy for the 99%) is out. The briefing paper was launched during the World Economic Forum last week. Some of you might remember last year's paper that spoke about growing inequality in the world, with half the the increase of wealth since the year 2000 going to the top 1% of the population, and only 1% of that growth going to the bottom half. At that time, 62 billionaires owned more wealth than the bottom half of humanity (3.6 billion people).

This year's paper has estimated that number to be down to just 8 billionaires. This new estimate is due to new methodology and data showing that poverty in India and China is worse than was thought last year. There is some debate on the methodology used to calculate the estimates. However, it is important to note that the gist of the report is very valid. Growing inequality threatens to pull societies apart, increase social tension, paranoia, crime and violence. We can already see signs of this all over the world. In addition, the global citizenry cannot accept an economy that serves a dangerous minority while at the same time ruining the conditions that we need to survive (we have crossed planetary boundary thresholds vital to survival of life on our planet).

According to the report, in a country like Vietnam, the country's richest man earns more in a day than the poorest person earns in 10 years. In Namibia we are no different; our inequality gap is increasing, putting us on the map as one of the most unequal societies in the world.

The report states that 'from Brexit to the success of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo. Why would they, when experience suggests that what it delivers is wage stagnation, insecure jobs and widening gap between the haves and the have-nots? The challenge is to build a positive alternative - not one that increases divisions.'

The report claims that the current economy, that has been set up for the 1%, is built on six key false assumptions which keep driving us further into inequality. One of the solutions that they propose (which forms part of a system of inter-connected solutions) is to 'humanize the economy'. What improves life quality for all? What would an equal society look like? What kind of technology would we demand, and what energy would we use? The report makes a few suggestions towards this transition, but each of us have a role to play in joining hands to make it work. Please follow the link to the report to find out more.

(Image Credit: Le Roux van Schalkwyk, Namibia)