It is estimated that three dozen families own 6% of the world’s wealth, while 80% of the world’s population share 20% of the world’s wealth, making billionaire charity a godsend gift to the earth’s wretched. About 1000 people on the planet, according to Forbes, own roughly 10% of the world’s GDP, while one billion people do not have access to drinking water largely because a handful of multinational corporations, in which the billionaire philanthropists own most of the stock, own water rights around the world and charge exorbitant rates.
Interestingly, countries like India, Mexico, Russia, and Brazil, which have a large percentage of poor, also have billionaires whose fortunes of course are not invested in their own countries to benefit the national economies. About two billion people are victims of chronic malnutrition and lack of medicine, largely because the multinational corporations in which billionaire philanthropists own most of the stock, do not make it affordable for people to eat and have medicine. The World Bank's recent announcement that global poverty has risen by 44 million since the announcement was made about the billionaire philanthropists and that it will continue rising is simply an indication that finance capitalists are well aware of the problem.
Water, food, health and education scarcity are among the problems that billionaire philanthropists want to address. The economic system, which made the same philanthropists billionaires, created the aforementioned problems in the first place. As I have stated in a previous posting, exploitation of the public by a handful of fraudulent investors determined to continue manipulating markets so they can amass greater wealth is indeed a Constitutional right under free speech protection.
Will global poverty end if the 1000 richest people and the next one million richest donate all their wealth? Of course not! Charity has never been the solution to the problem of unequal distribution of wealth and labor values. The economic system that has been with us for about 500 years in different forms causes social and geographical poverty and inequality on a global scale. As the core of the capitalist world-economy shifts from the US to Asia in the course of the 21st century, there will be increased poverty in the West and relative rising affluence in underdeveloped countries.
The irony of mostly Western billionaires donating in large measure to non-Western areas is that in the 21st century the West may experience the same Third World conditions. Nor is the solution “made in America” (Germany, France, UK, etc.) because at the core of cyclical crises of capitalism is not to make each country more competitive–lower wages and higher quality products–as the apologists of the system insist and Obama argued recently. At the core of the system rests the assumption that capital chases the highest profits wherever it can secure them with the help of the state.
That US GDP in 2010 is estimated at $13-14 trillion, about same level as in 2006, while China’s GDP has doubled during the same period is not a good sign. Not that EU is doing much better. Despite the fact that its GDP has risen by about $3 trillion since 2006, EU has expanded to include more countries. In fact, the same structural problems of weakened fiscal structures in Western countries, traditionally the core of world capitalism, entail rising public debt and rising balance of payments deficits.
Western bourgeois societies that have become used to certain living standards will have to re-examine their lifestyles in the future. The alternative to adjusting their lifestyles is to replace the system that is at the root of the problem, a very unlikely possibility given the “Liberal” (in the Lockean sense of the word) ideological entrenchment of Western populations that has permeated their value system. Will the uprisings of North Africa and the Middle East eventually spread to western societies where the socioeconomic gap is widening?