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Wealth

Study Finds 22 Men Own More Wealth than All Women in Africa

One of the major topics of political concern both in the United States and around the world is the problem of economic inequality, which continues to increase by the day. Oxfam International, a charity that focuses on alleviating global poverty, has released a study that found that economic inequality has become so severe that the world’s richest 22 men own more wealth than all 326 million women who live in Africa. According to Oxfam, much of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires, whose fortunes contribute little to society even as women and people of color are excluded from the economy because of biased economic systems. To address the problem, Oxfam has called on governments around the world to institute policies that ease the financial burden on women who care for children and the eldery, often without pay. Oxfam recommends that governments increase taxes on the wealthy in order to fund programs to support child care and health care.

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The report included a number of surprising statistics that highlight just how bad economic inequality has become. For example, it found that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people; that the world’s richest 1% have over twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people; that the value of unpaid care work by women is $10.8 trillion annually; and that the number of billionaires in the world has doubled over the past decade. The report links economic inequality with gender inequality, arguing that economic policies that have been instituted around the world are biased towards men, allowing them to dominate in business in government. As a potential remedy to this problem, Oxfam recommends that governments recognize the unpaid yet essential care work performed predominantly by women by expanding the public sector’s role in providing care to children, the elderly, and others who cannot care for themselves. As populations age and governments around the world cut access to public services, this problem is expected to worsen with time.

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Oxfam believes that the influence of the super-rich on governments is too great, as the wealthy have the power to influence governments to enact policies that benefit themselves at the expense of the world’s poor, which disproportionately affects women and people of color. There is much disagreement around the world as to whether or not the existence of billionaires is good for society. Some argue that the fact that billionaires exist is evidence of the success of the capitalist system that has raised millions of people out of poverty, whereas others say that increasing taxes on the super-wealthy would lead to a more fair, just, and equal world where fewer people suffer unnecessarily. According to Oxfam, the capitalist system is broken because of the massive and growing economic inequality it generates and how it allows wealth to essentially be taken from the poor and given to the rich.

Election Pin

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg Launches Presidential Campaign

The former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has entered the race to be the next President of the United States, but will he be able to ‘buy’ a presidential term?

As one of the world’s richest men – Bloomberg is reportedly worth $51.4 billion – many have concerns regarding his campaign, which already has a record-breaking budget. Yet with issues including climate change and gun control high on his agenda should we be really be looking at the amount of money being spent promoting Bloomberg?

Each presidential campaign appears to have more money spent on it than the previous campaign, and this is evident with both the Bloomberg and Trump campaigns.

However is having more money than your competitor enough to secure a win?

Not always. It is worth remembering that Hillary Clinton spent around twice as much money as President Donald Trump did in their 2016 campaigns, showing money cannot always buy the White House.

One of the fall outs from Trump’s win was the question of what Clinton actually received for the extra money spent, with many supporters wondering whether the campaign’s staff are capable of budgeting their campaigns efficiently.

But surely the main aspect to any winning election campaign is to persuade voters that you are more passionate about subjects the public care about than your competitor.

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In 2016 Trump ensured all his rallies drew large and passionate crowds, especially in the primary process. This action has been credited as being one of the main strategies that helped him win the presidency. Passion is a huge draw to any campaign, as Bloomberg will soon find out.

Regardless of the amount of money a candidate may have, if there is no passion, poor issues and a lack of credibility, a campaign will struggle to gain the momentum required to be a success.

This is not to say that Trump would have still won on passion alone. Every campaign requires a monumental amount of cash spent, which is why fundraising is so important. Although Trump was also able to fill his rallies thanks to the staggering amount of free publicity he received, mainly through news outlets around the world reporting on both him as a person as well as how his campaign was fairing against previous campaigns.

However when voters are asked to give cash to a political campaign it is easy for them to believe they are being asked due to the campaigner believing they are essential to their campaign, when in fact the candidate is merely more persuasive than the alternative party.

With Bloomberg joining the campaign for 2020’s presidential election, it is easy for him to dismiss fundraising worries, thanks to his ‘bottomless’ money supply. However unless he can become more passionate and more persuasive, filling his rallies will be difficult.

His official video announcing his campaign clearly shows he is yet to find that spark that will encourage voters to back him for president and it appears that both Bloomberg and his staff believe they can win the campaign without any passion necessary.

In his announcement Bloomberg also criticized Trump’s administration, saying, “I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America. We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions. He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage.

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The stakes could not be higher. We must win this election. And we must begin rebuilding America. I believe my unique set of experiences in business, government and philanthropy will enable me to win and lead.”

Many Democrats are capitalizing on the anti-Trump feelings that are currently growing across the country, even more so thanks to his current impeachment hearing, but is this enough to land them the top job? Have they – and Bloomberg – made a credible enough case as to why you should vote for the Democrats rather than the Republicans?

Democratic Party rival Senator Elizabeth Warren has already slated Bloomberg’s campaign, accusing him of trying to buy the White House, and therefore American democracy:

“Michael Bloomberg is making a bet about democracy in 2020. He doesn’t need people, he only needs bags and bags of money.”

Senator Warren continued, “That’s exactly what’s now in play in 2020 – which vision, which version of our democracy is going to win? If Michael Bloomberg’s version of democracy wins, then democracy changes.”

Mr. Bloomberg, speaking at his first campaign event in Norfolk, Virginia, declined to answer her remarks however he did discuss the use of his wealth for his campaign:

“For years I’ve been using my resources for things that matter to me. I am going to make my case and let the voters who are plenty smart make their choice.”

Whichever way the voters decide to go, it is clear that the campaign for the Democratic candidate – and the next presidential administration – should be an interesting journey.

Microsoft

Following Criticism, Elizabeth Warren Offers to Speak with Bill Gates

Bill Gates, who is known not only for his humanitarian work and his pioneering role at Microsoft but for having amassed massive amounts of wealth, recently sat down with columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times DealBook Conference to discuss matters of finance, philanthropy, and politics. In response to a question about taxation on wealthy individuals, Bill Gates said that he had paid over $10 billion in taxes, and that he’d be happy to pay $20 billion, but he is skeptical of tax rates higher than that. Gates insinuated that under Warren’s plan, he’d have to pay $100 billion in taxes, which he considered unacceptable. (He clarified that he meant that statement as a joke immediately after.) The interviewer then asked Gates if he had ever spoken with Warren about the topic, and he replied that he hadn’t, and that he didn’t know whether she’d be willing to “sit down with somebody, you know, who has large amounts of money.”

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Gates’ comment about Warren’s tax plan, as well his comments about the election more generally, received a lot of attention in the media, potentially damaging Warren’s campaign. In response, Elizabeth Warren tweeted yesterday that she’d be happy to sit down with Gates, and that she’d “love to explain exactly how much [he’d] pay under [her] wealth tax.” She promised him it wouldn’t be $100 billion. Gates responded to Warren’s tweets by applauding her commitment to proposing solutions to many of the world’s greatest problems, including climate change and global poverty, and said that he respected her ambition despite their disagreements. Gates added that he’s “always willing to talk about creative solutions to these problems,” suggesting a conversation between the two may be in the works.

Gates is one of several billionaires who has recently expressed doubts about tax plans like Warren’s

Gates, who said during the recent interview that he wasn’t going to make any “political declarations,” stated nonetheless that he is likely to vote for the more “professional” candidate. This comment was criticized as a tacit endorsement of Trump, as many commentators felt that it should have been easy for Gates to denounce the sitting president. However, Gates is known for choosing not to give political endorsements, as he doesn’t want to influence the political process in that way. In fact, Gates’ preference for the more “professional” candidate could easily be read as an implicit criticism of Trump, who defies conventions of professionalism at every opportunity.

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If Warren’s tax plan were passed into law, Gates’ taxes would surely go up, though not to the levels he suggested. Under Warren’s plan, fortunes over $1 billion would be taxed at 6%. As Gates is worth roughly $107 billion, this would mean he’d pay at least an additional $6.42 billion in taxes, a far cry from the $100 billion tax he joked about. Nevertheless, while Gates asserted that he supports progressive tax policies, he voiced skepticism and concern about Warren’s plans specifically, asserting he’d prefer “a middle-ground approach.” Notably, Sanders’ tax plan was not discussed, even though his plan calls for even greater taxes on the wealthy than Warren’s does. Perhaps a more significant source of disagreement between the two results from Warren’s proposal to break up big tech companies, which Gates opposes, though he has admitted his bias in favor of Microsoft.

Gates is one of several billionaires who has recently expressed doubts about tax plans like Warren’s; the prospect of paying more taxes drove one billionaire to tears on CNBC, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon worried that Warren “vilifies successful people,” and expressed concern about her use of “harsh” language.