It should come as no surprise to any worker that the rich are getting richer, while the majority of people around the world are getting poorer. Yet, the latest statistics on the global concentration of wealth in the hands of a few are still stunning.
A report entitled, “Working for the Few,” issued on Jan. 20 by Oxfam, a British-based, anti-poverty organization, declares that the world’s 85 richest individuals own a total of $1.7 trillion, which is equivalent to the wealth held by the poorest 3.5 billion people — half the world’s population. Further, nearly half of the planet’s wealth — a gargantuan $110 trillion — is owned by the richest 1%.
The pages of this newspaper have stated that the super rich benefited from the recent global financial crisis, while the masses of the world’s people fell further behind. Oxfam also notes this development and points out that the world’s billionaires garnered 95 percent of the post-crisis growth, a trend it says is especially true in the United States. Workers World has noted the mammoth corporate profits made during the U.S.’s “jobless recovery,” and the further impoverishment of the working class here, as millions remain unemployed or underemployed and need food stamps and other social benefits to survive.
What can political activists do while fighting along with the workers and oppressed in our cities in this period? We join with all those who demand higher corporate taxes, more government programs, including unemployment insurance and food stamps, higher wages, collective bargaining rights and every other economic right and social benefit for the majority of people.
However, we say that the struggle has to go further and hit hard against the capitalist system itself. Economic and social inequality is inherent in this system, rooted in the private ownership of the means of production.
The bosses’ exploitation of the multinational working class is also intrinsic to capitalism. With profit making and filling the bosses’ coffers the goal of all production, laborers are paid only a fraction of the value they produce. Workers’ labor has created all of the capitalists’ wealth. The owners have created nothing.
As the capitalists accumulate more wealth from exploiting and super exploiting their workforce, they reinvest money, purchase companies and expand, always looking to increase their riches on the backs of those who produce everything.
In fact, in their ferocious war on the working class here and worldwide, the corporate bosses are trying to break unions and drive down wages, while fighting higher minimum wages, always searching the world for cheaper labor to maximize profits and increase their wealth even further.
No matter how much wealth the capitalist class owns, the riches will not “trickle down” to the workers. In fact, as the Oxfam study shows, with phenomenal wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, it has not helped the majority of the world’s people. In fact, they’ve lost ground. Unemployment, hunger, homelessness and other inhumane indicators of capitalism are on the rise worldwide.
WW wants to get rid of this system of exploitation. We say it is time to kick up the struggle a notch and aim it against capitalism in order to end inequality, injustice, oppression and impoverishment forever.
Only socialism can move society forward, as the means of production would be transferred from ownership by a few to the collective hands of the multinational working class. Then, all the fruits of our labor would be used for the good of humanity – for housing, health care, education, nutritious food and everything else.