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Inequality: the business of the rich

While the political and business elite gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam published their inequality report. It shows once again that we live in a deeply unequal world and that our economic system is flawed and disproportionately benefitting the fortunate few. While a handful of people live in obscene splendour, billions are leading a life on the fringes, without ever being able to cater to their basic needs, let alone live a life in dignity. A sewer in Bangladesh has to work an entire lifetime to earn as much money as the person who sells their products makes within a couple of days. Moreover, women in particular bear the burden of inequality, consistently earning less than men. According to Oxfam it will take another 217 years to close the income and employment gap between men and women if we continue at the current pace. The report shows us a daunting, more and more unequal future if we continue with business as usual. 

We call upon the leaders of the world to act. To stop enabling corporate greed, to stop viewing more billionaires as an indicator of economic success and to take the deep gender inequalities in our world serious. This is a task no single state can handle alone, we need global solutions.  We call upon all states to take adequate measures to ensure that wealth does not accumulate at the top, but is distributed in a way that enables everyone to lead a life in dignity in healthy societies. We want to see tax havens exposed, shamed and shut. They bear a major responsibility for the current situation as they allow the rich – and only the rich – to circumvent regulations meant to distribute wealth equally. A blacklist was a good start, but it was never enough and taking Panama off just for promising betterment is a disastrous signal – as is never putting European countries on it. The Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg and other members of the EU are among the biggest tax havens worldwide. 

The #PanamaPapers have laid the groundwork, it is now up to Europe to take a leading role in closing the loopholes through which the global elites channel their money away from where it is urgently needed.