The Issues

Economic Inequality | Climate Change | Mass Poverty & Starvation | Human Rights | Infectious & Chronic Diseases | Education & Learning | Food & Water Insecurity | Human Trafficking

Economic Inequality is the Primary Global Issue

According to the World Inequality Report 2018, inequality within world regions varies greatly. In 2016, the share of total national income accounted for by just that nation’s top 10% earners (top 10% income share) was 37% in Europe, 41% in China, 46% in Russia, 47% in US-Canada, and around 55% in sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, and India. In the Middle East, the world’s most unequal region according to our estimates, the top 10% capture 61% of national income [37] - earners per nation, live in varying conditions of poverty, paycheck to paycheck, existing each day just to survive.

Solution to Economic Inequality

Global Economic Inequality

US Income Inequality

Households in the lowest quintile (20th percentile) had incomes of $25,600 or less in 2018. Households in the second quintile (40th percentile) had incomes from $25,601 to $50,000, those in the third quintile (60th percentile) had incomes from $50,001 to $79,542, and those in the fourth quintile (80th percentile) had incomes from $79,543 to $130,000. Households in the highest quintile had incomes of $130,001 or more. The top 5 percent (95th percentile) of households in the income distribution had incomes of $248,729 or more. Source: US Census Bureau

Million People

In 2018, there were 39.7 million people in the US living in poverty, 12.3 percent of those, 16.2 million were children under age 18. Poverty in Detroit and Flint Michigan is 3x-3.5x higher than the national rate. [Source: US Census Bureau]

International Inequality

People living on less than $1.90-a-day, Extreme Poverty, International Poverty Line, World Bank's Upper Middle-Income and Lower Middle-Income country poverty lines correspond to $5.50 and $3.20 per person per day, Middle class defined as earning between $13 and $70-a-day (2011 PPP). [Source: The World Bank]

Billion People

The World's Richest 1% have more than Twice as much Wealth as 6.9 Billion People. [Source: OxFam Intl]

Corporate Leaders Discuss Economic Inequality

Source: YahooFinance
  • The founder and owner of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund with $137 billion in assets under management, Dalio views the current income gap as a national emergency and believes it must be addressed at the very top.

    “If I was the president of the United States,” Dalio said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in April, “I would recognize that it’s a national emergency.” He says the American dream is lost because opportunity isn’t available to everyone.

    “If you look at history, if you have a group of people who have very different economic conditions and you have an economic downturn, you have conflict,” Dalio said on “60 Minutes.” “In the 30’s for example, you had four major countries that were democracies that chose not to be democracies because they wanted leadership to bring order to the conflict.” Dalio adds that the income gap is “unfair...unproductive, threatens to split us.”

    Ray Dalio, Chairman
    Bridgewater Associates
  • As the third-richest man in the world, Warren Buffett recognizes that Americans at the low end of the income distribution have contributed to his success. In an interview with Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said that these are “people that don’t fit well into the market system but that are perfectly decent citizens and that have made a good bit of the success somebody like I’ve had with Berkshire... possible. It wouldn’t have happened without the America we have.”

    Buffett has said that the earned income tax credit is the best means of addressing income inequality in America. (He wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2015 calling for an expansion of the EITC, saying “In recent decades, our country’s rising tide has not lifted the boats of the poor.”)

    “You want them to feel part of the system,” Buffett said, “as more and more of these golden eggs are laid, you want them to get a little more of their share.”

    Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO
    Berkshire Hathaway
  • The CEO and chairman of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, has a “Marshall Plan” for helping the middle class and addressing the wealth gap. The three main components of his plan are raising the minimum wage, government investment in technical programs in schools, and tax breaks for teachers. “I look at this as a systemic problem,” Schwarzman said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in April. “This is like half of our society is severely disadvantaged. We can’t allow that to continue, so that means you need policy solutions.”
    Steve Schwarzman, Chairman and CEO
    Blackstone Group
  • In his 2018 annual letter to shareholders, Dimon wrote that income inequality has gotten worse, as middle-class incomes have remained stagnant for years. He said 40% of workers earn less than $15 an hour with about 5% of Americans who work full-time earning the minimum wage or less, which he pointed out is not a living wage. Dimon warned, “If we do not fix these problems, America’s moral, economic and military dominance may cease to exist.” While capitalism clearly has its flaws, he highlighted socialism’s ills and how America would be much worse off with that kind of a system. “When governments control companies, economic assets (companies, lenders and so on) over time are used to further political interests – leading to inefficient companies and markets, enormous favoritism and corruption.”
    Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO
    JPMorgan Chase
  • The former CEO and chairman of Starbucks is a possible presidential candidate – and says the wealth gap would be a top priority for him if he were elected. “I still have the scars, vulnerability, the shame, the insecurity of growing up in a family where my parents couldn’t afford the $96-a-month rent for the apartment in the projects,” he said. “That just never left me – like all of us, my childhood experiences have defined me.” Schultz thinks the wealthy should pay more taxes and the corporate tax rate should be raised.
    Howard Schultz,
    Former Starbucks CEO
  • A vocal critic of income inequality, the Microsoft founder supports taxes on the rich, but says that proposals by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez misses the mark by focusing too much on high income brackets. Ocasio-Cortez has floated the idea of increasing the top marginal tax rate to 70% on income over $10 million.

    “In terms of revenue collection, you wouldn’t want to just focus on the ordinary income rate,” Gates said recently, “because people who are wealthy have a rounding error of ordinary income.”

    “They have income that just is the value of their stock, which if they don’t sell it, it doesn’t show up as income at all, or if it shows up, it shows up over in the capital gains side,” he said recently – meaning that top earners are only paying a 20% tax rate instead of the 39% marginal ordinary income rate.

    Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Investors warning of economic emergency due to income inequality


Humanity's Top Threats

H U M A ND R E A M is the robust global strategy needed to substantively address humanities top threats.

Mass Deaths

In 2015, more than 16,000 children under age five died every day. Almost all of these children's lives could be saved if they had access to simple and affordable interventions such as exclusive breastfeeding, inexpensive vaccines and medication, clean water and sanitation.

Children are at a greater risk of dying before age five if they are born in poor households, rural areas, or to mothers denied basic education.

Climate Change

Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

This happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2.

Adults Dying

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.0 million lives in 2016, while lung cancer (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.7 million deaths.

Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2016, up from less than 1 million in 2000. Deaths due to dementias more than doubled between 2000 and 2016, making it the 5th leading cause of global deaths in 2016 compared to 14th in 2000.

Mass Poverty & Starvation

> People living on less than $1.90-a-day is Extreme Poverty, International Poverty Line, World Bank

> Upper Middle-Income and Lower Middle-Income country poverty lines correspond to $5.50 and $3.20 per person, per day

> Middle class defined as earning between $13 and $70-a-day, (2011 PPP).

Human Rights

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.

Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.

Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

Poor Health, Malnutrition and Disease

Lower respiratory infections remained the most deadly communicable disease, causing 3.0 million deaths worldwide in 2016.

The death rate from diarrhoeal diseases decreased by almost 1 million between 2000 and 2016, but still caused 1.4 million deaths in 2016.

Human Trafficking

Children make up almost 1/3 of all human trafficking victims worldwide.
At any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

Food & Water Insecurities

> 2 Billion is the number of people worldwide that use a drinking-water source contaminated with feces.

> Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.

> Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.

Education & Learning

750 Million Adults - two thirds of them women – remained illiterate in 2016.
Half of the global illiterate population lives in South Asia, and a quarter live in sub-Saharan Africa.

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