Bernie Sanders On Billionaires, Inequality and the Fight Against ‘Global Oligarchy’
We’re delighted that Senator Bernie Sanders has written a foreword to this year’s Davos report. Here we republish his powerful thoughts on our bleak economic reality – but also reasons to be hopeful as more and more people join the fight for economic justice.
Each and every year, Oxfam does an extraordinary job in shining a spotlight on the rapid movement toward global oligarchy, in which just a handful of billionaires own and control a major part of the world economy. And each year, the movement toward global oligarchy becomes more pronounced and more obscene.
Here is the harsh economic reality we must confront:
Never before in human history have so few owned so much.
Never before in human history has there been such income and wealth inequality.
Never before in history have we had such huge concentrations of ownership.
Never before in history have we seen a billionaire class with so much political power.
And never before have we seen this unprecedented level of greed, arrogance and irresponsibility on the part of the ruling class.
In the United States, three people own more wealth than the bottom half of society, while over 60% of workers live paycheck to paycheck. Despite massive increases in worker productivity and an explosion in technology, real weekly wages for the average American worker are lower today than they were 50 years ago.
But, as Oxfam points out, this is clearly not just an American issue. It is a global issue. Since 2020, while nearly five billion people throughout the world have been made poorer, the five richest men on the planet have become twice as wealthy and are now worth more than US$800 billion. More than US$800 billion in wealth – for just five people!
While millions of people throughout the world live in dire poverty, without clean drinking water, adequate healthcare, decent housing, or education for their kids, the world’s billionaires have increased their wealth by over US$3 trillion in the last three years alone. That’s trillion with a ‘t’.
Billionaires become richer, the working class struggles, and the poor live in desperation. That is the unfortunate state of the world economy.
That is the bad news. But here is the good news. Thanks to organizations like Oxfam, more and more people throughout the world are making the connections between the harsh economic reality of their lives and the destructive nature of our uber-capitalist system which rewards greed and profiteering above any other human value.
Workers in the United States and throughout the world are making it clear that they are sick and tired of being ripped off and exploited. They are no longer sitting back and allowing large corporations to make record-breaking profits while they fall further and further behind. They are fighting back and many of them are winning substantial increases in wages, benefits and working conditions.
Here is the simple truth: if we stand together in our common humanity there are enormous opportunities in front of us to create a better life for all.
We can guarantee healthcare as a human right to every man, woman and child. We can combat climate change, save the planet and create tens of millions of good-paying green energy jobs in the process. We can use the advancements in technology and worker productivity to improve our lives. We can eliminate poverty and increase life expectancy.
We can do all of that and more if we are prepared to bring low-income and working people all over the world together to build an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world based on economic, social and environmental justice.
This report brings us closer together. I greatly appreciate Oxfam’s leadership to combat global oligarchy and to help create a more just world.
Bernie Sanders is a United States Senator
The above was first published as a foreword to Oxfam’s Davos report: read the full report here: Inequality Inc.: How corporate power divides our world and the need for a new era of public action