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Asean Affairs   22  January 2014


Is there something inhuman about one human being having more than 15 billion euros in wealth, and one in every two human beings having no more than 372 – more than 41 million times more?

That is one of the disturbing questions that a new report by Oxfam, a leading development charity, raises. Its report states that the richest 85 people in the world own 1.2 trillion euros – equal to the combined wealth of the poorest half the human race, 3.5 billion.

The report, titled “Working for the Few”, states that this has been achieved by a power grab of the political process that has hijacked the economic system for their own advantage. Oxfam’s chief exectutive, Winnie Byanyima stated:

“We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. 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.”

In the U.S., this is glaringly evident in the concerted efforts by the rich to cut peoples’ pensions, health care, wages etc., instead of paying their fair share in taxes. When some in Congress recently tried to extend unemployment benefits to more than 1.2 million, Republicans refused to do so unless cuts were made elsewhere. When taxes for the rich are cut, nobody is asking how those cuts are going to be paid for.

The Oxfam report found that the rich secured their increased wealth through financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices, cuts in service to the majority and lower tax rates for themselves. 1% of families own more than 84 trillion euros – about 46% of global wealth.

Is there a solution?

There is always a solution if people but take it. For example, there are mid-term elections in the U.S. this year. If people choose candidates who are genuinely concerned with the welfare of all, they could revitalize this country by making it more humane in its policies and practices. As the slogan says, “Let’s Just Do It”.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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