(NNPA)—“Income inequality” has become the political buzzword of 2014. President Obama, most recently in this week’s State of the Union Address, has made it a central theme of his second term. Both progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans in Congress are making it a focus of this year’s mid-term elections, and leading voices for human rights have called on government and business leaders to take immediate action to close the income gap for the sake of long-term economic and social stability.
Even last week, as the world’s elite— leaders from government, business and NGO sectors—gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, the issue of inequality was atop the agenda. WEF’s Global Risks 2014 report recently revealed that the “chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade.”
Another voice was added to the chorus last week when the British-based anti-poverty organization, Oxfam International, released a report in advance of the Davos gathering revealing that the richest 85 people in the world control as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population—about 3.5 billion people. Commenting on the report, Oxfam’s Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima said, “It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table.”