For the past couple of years at this time there has been news of the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor. And each year the numbers get worse. This year Pan Pylas writing in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 17th said “The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday.” Surely anyone would agree that Gates, Bloomberg, and the other six men have more than enough of everything.
The annual report from Oxfam, a highly regarded world-wide charity headquartered in the UK, highlights a growing problem in the world. As Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, is quoted in this same article as saying, “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”
We have all read doomsday predictions about where this growing inequality is leading. Some foresee worldwide violent upheaval at some point in the future in an attempt to level the economic playing field. Others say this view is overly pessimistic and that targeted economic reform can work toward resolution of the problem. Since no one knows the future for sure, one carefully researched and rigorously considered forecast may be as good as another. Nevertheless, there are signs of the significant dissatisfaction felt by many in the Brexit vote earlier this year and in the recent Trump election in this country. And I do not anticipate conscientious work being done on this issue by the men being selected to serve in the Trump administration.
What can any of us do if we feel troubled by this current situation and growing trend? We can always contact our members of Congress and express our views, particularly about upcoming issues. We also can write letters to the editor of our local paper. Apparently, this part of most papers is read widely. On a more personal level we can shop more carefully and refuse to support brands and stores known to profit from largely overseas near-slave labor. We can examine our own lives and honestly face the question “How will I know when I have enough?” And then take action on whatever our answers reveal. We can become very alert to things we have become accustomed to, e.g., the outrageous salaries paid to sports figures, corporate executives, superstars of the performing arts, letting it be known to those in charge that it is not acceptable any longer that these people are making hundreds of times what their “service people” are earning or the teachers who teach their children or the nurses who care for them when they get sick.
In whatever way is doable for each of us, we can let it be known loudly that this economic gap must not get wider and must begin to close.
Are you willing to step up? If so, what are you going to do first?