By Matt Gordon, Bristol Socialist Party
The annual list of billionaires produced by Forbes Magazine has again seen records smashed by the world’s hyper-rich. There are now 1426 billionaires in the world, 210 more than 2012, with a collective wealth of $5.4 trillion, up nearly a trillion from last year.
At a time of global recession and austerity, this bunch of high-flyers seem to be beating the odds. 80% of the list saw their wealth increase during the course of 2012. Despite youth unemployment in Spain now reaching 55% with desperation leading some to suicide, Spanish billionaire and owner of Zara Amancio Ortega has seen the biggest increase of all – an extra $19 billion on his fortune!
But some are still not happy - Saudi Arabian prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has lashed out at Forbes magazine which he says has robbed him of his rightful spot in the top ten. It placed him at unimpressive 26th in the world with a wealth of only $20 billion.
In reality these figures are scandalous at a time when global poverty is on the rise and 80% of the world get by on less than $10 a day, a stark contrast to the lavish lifestyles of this tiny elite.
World capitalism has been in crisis since 2008 and increasing concentrations of wealth at the top are not just an aberration but are one of the main problems the economy is faced with. Wealth doesn’t ‘trickle-down’ as we are told, but is instead sucked up and locked away, leaving everyone else worse off.
The latest figures show that between $21 trillion and $32 trillion has been stashed in offshore tax havens around the world by the super-rich, none of it being put to productive use. This will only be fraction of the cash hoard being held back by big business as a whole.
If this money cannot be put to good use then it should be taken into public ownership and used to create jobs, homes, infrastructure and prosperity for all, the 99% not the 1%. Next time someone says that there is no money for schools, hospitals, public services or decent housing and that we all have to tighten our belts, direct them to a copy of Forbes Magazine and ask if any of that money would do.