Saturday, March 13, 2004

What the world needs: more billionaires

Something's wrong with this scenario, don't you think?

While at least a billion people on the planet subsist on the equivalent of a dollar a day or less, the concentration of wealth among a handful of people at the top has set new records. In its current issue, Forbes magazine lists a record 587 individuals and family units worth $1 billion or more, an increase from 476 in 2003. The combined wealth of this year’s billionaires also reached record levels—a staggering $1.9 trillion, an increase of $500 billion in just one year, due largely to resurging stock prices over the last 12 months.

The wealth of these few hundred people exceeds the gross domestic product of the world’s 170 poorest countries combined, and equals nearly 4 percent of the annual production of the entire world.
And worse: "While the rich continue to accumulate wealth for themselves, millions upon millions of people around the world are trying to survive under conditions of unspeakable degradation. One estimate puts the cost of satisfying the entire world’s need for food and sanitation at $13 billion -- less than 1 percent of the wealth of the world’s billionaires."