It’s not really hard to tell when a system is broken when you are coming out with numbers like this.

Oxfam International, a poverty fighting organization, made news at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year with its report that the world’s 85 richest people own assets with the same value as those owned by the poorer half of the world’s population, or 3.5 billion people (including children). Both groups have $US 1.7 trillion. That’s $20 billion on average if you are in the first group, and $486 if you are in the second group.

Oxfam’s calculations of the richest individuals are based on the 2013 Forbes Billionaires list. I decided to take a closer look at this group of 85 in search of trends. That’s when I realized that they are by now a much wealthier group. The rich got richer. And it was quite fast and dramatic. For example, while last year it took $23 billion to be in the top 20 of the world’s billionaires, this year it took $31 billion, according to Luisa Kroll, Forbes wealth editor, writing on Forbes.com.

I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I’m either too stupid or too apathetic to know what they right answer is here. But what I can say for certainty is that unless there are some drastic changes soon this chasm will only continue to widen. Twenty or thirty years ago the middle-class people who were certain that nothing like this would ever effect them are the same ones that have been steadily losing their pensions to Madoff type ponzi schemes while we have businessmen getting themselves elected into the government and systematically dismantling any form of checks and balances that are set up to make sure that things like this aren’t supposed to be able to take place. Meanwhile we now live in a country where 3/4 of Americans admit to barely surviving from paycheck to paycheck.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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