This segment of Act Out! was co-written by Kit O’Connell and Eleanor Goldfield.
We are the 99 percent!
These words made famous by Occupy Wall Street helped bring new attention to the problem of systemic inequality. The chant isn’t just some hyperbole made up by hippies however: it’s backed by actual economic truth — you know, facts as opposed to alternative facts.
According to Credit Suisse in their 2015 Global Wealth Report, “the lower half of the global population collectively own less than 1% of global wealth, while the richest 10% of adults own 88% of all wealth and the top 1% account for half of all assets in the world.” HALF OF ALL ASSETS on planet earth. ——- And now, this latest report from Oxfam reveals that an already grim picture is actually even more dire. According to their research, the world’s 8 richest men collectively possess more wealth than the poorest 50 percent of the world. That’s right, 8 multi-billionaires have as much money as about 3 billion, 370 million of the world’s poor.
Welcome to this week’s Fucked Fact.
Before we name and shame these 8 filthy rich fucks, let’s share some fucked facts about global poverty today. According to “An Economy for the 99%,” the report published in January by Oxfam, “Over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.”
Meanwhile, at the bottom rungs of society, “the incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by less than $3 a year between 1988 and 2011, while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 times as much.”
Not 182 dollars, but 182 TIMES whatever ridiculous amounts of money they were making for raping and pillaging people and planet while circle jerking politicians in their free time. And while these numbers cover the global population, things here in the Land of the Hungry and Home of the Indebted are just as disgustingly unbalanced: “New research by economist Thomas Piketty shows that over the last 30 years the growth in the incomes of the bottom 50 percent has been zero, whereas incomes of the top 1 percent have grown 300 percent.”
That’s right, when you adjust for inflation and other factors like cost of living, the income for the poorest HALF of America has remained TOTALLY FUCKING STAGNANT, while the richest one percenters make a whopping 300 percent more than they did just 30 years ago. Three. Hundred. Percent.
But what do all these numbers mean and who the hell are these hateful 8?
Seriously Quentin, you missed the boat on that one — I’d much rather see these greedy bastards get their ears chopped off on screen than see John Travolta get lit up while in the shitter — but maybe I’m conflating films here. Anyway, here is your list of fat cat capitalists — your high rolling low life scum.
- Bill Gates, the world’s richest man at about $84 billion, whose wealth has increased by $25 billion after he left Microsoft in 2006,
- Warren Buffet, the famous Wall Street investor, who controls about $74 billion,
- Amancio Ortega, former chairman of the Inditex fashion group, which owns Zara clothing, worth $72 billion,
- Jeff Bezos, the CEO at Amazon, currently believed to be worth over $70 billion,
- Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who has over $53 billion,
- Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corporation, worth over $51 billion,
- Carlos Slim, a Mexican business magnate and investor, worth over $46 billion,
- And former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has about $43 billion.
Now, you’re probably already familiar with some of these low life scum. For example, Michael Bloomberg oversaw the brutal crackdown on Occupy Wall Street, and once referred to the murderous thugs of the NYPD as his own private army. But other members of this list are widely known for their philanthropy. Didn’t they earn their money through hard work and aren’t they be using their wealth for good?
Not so fast, says Oxfam, which outlines 6 major myths about wealth and inequality, including the myth that “Extreme individual wealth is benign and a sign of success, and inequality is not relevant.” Instead, says Oxfam, “the emergence of a new gilded age, with vast amounts of wealth concentrated in too few hands — the majority male — is economically inefficient, politically corrosive, and undermines our collective progress.”
Even when these 8 rich men give money, it always comes with strings attached. For example, “Free Basics,” Zuckerberg’s plan to bring internet access to rural and isolated parts of the earth, generated international protests in 2015 because it would have obliterated the principle of net neutrality by allowing Facebook executives to decide which parts of the web poor people can browse. Free Basics, and similar efforts by Google, have been called a form of “techno-colonialism.”
In June 2015, Pranesh Prakash, from the Centre for Internet & Society in Bangalore, India told Al-Jazeera, “They are not doing it because they are charities, because they believe in altruism etc. They’re doing it because having more people online benefits them.”
You and I, we’re just clickbait for the rich.
Even Bill Gates, known as a generous donor to numerous charities, is actually one of the driving forces behind public school privatization, and notorious for donating computer equipment to schools and the poor, but only if they use Microsoft software. Not content to leave his education escapades there, Gates became a primary driving force behind the controversial Common Core curriculum in American schools, knowing that the technology required would earn him and Microsoft billions.
And if you’re not sure what Common Core looks like — consider this math problem. Most of you could probably do this in your head — or via the usage of those few simple lines, “show your work” — but NOOOOOOO, that simply won’t do. Common Core, an odd name for something that makes no fucking common sense — prefers to do it this way.
I mean what in the actual blue fuck is that?! No wonder that kid is banging his head against the wall — I took calculus in college and I honestly think that looked easy compared to this shit.
And we have literally spent billions on — on whatever the fuck that is. And with those billions spent, we have quote “nothing to show for it.”
Well, besides teacher shortages, extreme cuts to arts and other non-standardized tested subjects AND the closure of thousands of schools, mostly in black and Latinx neighborhoods.
And does Gates give a shit? Nope. Just like Zuckerberg doesn’t care whether kids actually have access to the most powerful information portal in the history of humankind. Just like Bank of America’s “community support” charities don’t give a flying FUCK about enriching communities. Because um gee, if you did you steaming piles of pig shit, you wouldn’t be emptying those communities of people via subprime mortgages and foreclosures — not to mention supporting projects like oil and gas pipelines that force people off their land due to the gross misuse of eminent domain. But hey, who knows, you might get a BofA funded meal of watery soup at that shelter you’ll be staying in so yeah, be thankful.
The charity industrial complex is but a shiny veneer — indeed, it’s just another part of the freakish face of the capitalist catastrophe that we call our economy. It allows the grotesquely rich to validate their wealth, perpetuating the lie that poverty is just a part of life, not a planned piece of a twisted system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. It allows the rich to appear benevolent, to make it look like they’re “giving back” when what they’re really doing is taking. Taking three hundred percent and maybe dropping point 5 of that back into a communal slop bucket. It’s a way of shutting us up while perpetuating the “people in, profit out” paradigm that grinds our bodies, minds and souls to weakened nubs too sick, tired and wasted to fight back.
And if that sounds bleak and wildly insurmountable — which yeah, it does — consider what stands in the way of change — what REALLY stands in the way of a more equal, just and peaceful system.
We are the answer to our problems — we don’t need a magic bullet, a savior or a saint. We just need the power of we, the people.
And if inaugural weekend showed us anything it’s that we CAN mobilize — we can change our apathetic ways. We can tear the hateful 8 from their gilded thrones and make this society more equal, more just — one that works for the 99, not just the 1 percent.
Occupy Wall Street is gone from our cities’ streets, but our demands for an end to money in politics, and more importantly, for a more humane economic system that doesn’t only benefit the rich, are more important than ever. It’s up to today’s activists to carry these demands forward, to be the angry rabble with torches and pitchforks outside the homes of the wealthy.
It’s up to you — and me — to take back the world from the 1 percenter low-life scum.
The REALLY Hateful 8: Global Inequality & The World’s 8 Richest Men (Fucked Fact) by Kit O’Connell & Eleanor Goldfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/really-hateful-8-global-inequality-worlds-8-richest-men.