The annual list of billionaires produced by Forbes Magazine has again seen records smashed by the world’s hyper-rich. There are now 1,426 billionaires in the world, 210 more than 2012, with a collective wealth of $5.4 trillion, up nearly a trillion dollars from last year.
By Matt Gordon, Socialist Party
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 increasing numbers to suicide, Spanish billionaire and owner of Zara clothes chain 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 an unimpressive 26th in the world with a wealth of ‘only’ $20 billion.
Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart comes in at number 36 with $17 billion of wealth. She is not only the richest person in Australia but in the whole Asia Pacific region.
In reality these figures are scandalous at a time when global poverty is on the rise and 80% of the world struggles 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 is only a fraction of the cash hoard being held back by big business as a whole.
Instead of wasting it in the bank accounts of the super-rich, this money should be taxed, along with widespread nationalisation of the top multinationals, to release funds 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.