In a report released by Oxfam this week, the charity estimated the funds available to the eight men, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, was equal to that of the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people.
“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when one in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director. “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”
According to The Independent, the charity produces an admittedly stunning statistic such as this every year to highlight their work and to embarrass the nabobs gathering for the World Economic Forum in Davos. That said, I still do not understand why Oxfam and others are so intent on bashing the billionaires. A vast majority of them do massive amounts for charity as well as employing thousands of people from across the globe.
In the case of Bill Gates, who is on the eight wealthiest people list (of course), the latest figures from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, show that their total grant payments since inception (through Q4 2015) for charitable activities including Global development, Global Health, and Global Policy & Advocacy is $36.7 billion.
And then there is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan who committed $3 billion to scientific research “over the next decade, with the goal of curing disease” — the first step in a promise to give away 99% of their Facebook shares over their lifetimes.
Back in 2010 Warren Buffett, who is also on the wealthiest people list, and Bill Gates created the Giving Pledge, which encourages the world’s billionaires to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity. Since then 154 people have made the pledge.
UK signatories to the Giving Pledge include Richard Branson, David Sainbury and Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell, whose charity named Caudwell Children has raised £27 million as of July 2013 since its inception just in 2000.
In 2016, Warren Buffett donated almost $3 billion to various charities and did the same in 2015 and 2014. So that’s the best part of $9 billion over 3 years. Buffett has vowed to give away 99% of his wealth in his lifetime or within ten years of his estate being settled.
Oxfam’s report also shows how the world’s richest 1% retained their share of global wealth and own more than the other 99% combined. This concentration of wealth at the top is “holding back the fight to end global poverty”, Oxfam said.
That’s a ridiculous and unfair thing to say given the billions that these wealthy people give away to good causes.
The world has actually become a more equal place in recent decades. Many millions, maybe billions, have been lifted out of poverty, driven by the fast growth rates of India, China and the other developing economies.
Incomes and consumption levels have become more equal as a result, notwithstanding the conspicuous consumption of the billionaires, and notwithstanding the fact that they too have seen their incomes rise.
Here’s a list of the top 8 wealthiest people in the world for your interest:
- Bill Gates, Microsoft founder
- Amancio Ortega, he’s behind the Zara fashion chain among others
- Warren Buffet, largest shareholder in Berkely Hathaway
- Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican entrepreneur
- Jeff Bezos, founder Amazon
- Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook
- Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle
- Michael Bloomberg, the media tycoon