For the World’s Wealthiest People, 2017 Was an Unprecedented Year

As 2017 wraps up, the year has sure proven itself to be a good one. Well, that is, if you happen to be one of the world’s 500 richest individuals. For them, the year meant a huge growth in their personal fortunes, with each gaining an extra $2 billion on average – together bringing in a total of $1 trillion.

These gains weren’t evenly distributed, however. The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, claimed the lion’s share and saw his net worth rise to just under $100 billion after raking in $34 billion this year alone. To call that a huge spike in wealth would be an understatement.

These developments are unprecedented. Today we are now experiencing the largest wealth gap the world has seen in a century. And this is a serious problem, especially given the likelihood that this trend is only set to continue in 2018.

A century ago some of history’s most significant (and not-so-positive) events rocked the world, due in no small part to wealth inequality. The globe’s major powers were plunged into horrific conflict, Russia experienced an upheaval that saw the underclasses targeting their aristocracy and replacing it with Stalinism, and in the United States, the worst economic crisis in our history left the country looking, in many places, like an undeveloped nation.

A decade ago the United States (and much of the rest of the world) was given a rude awakening in the form of the so-called Great Recession. While this should have been a reminder of what unregulated, unchecked greed could mean, it is safe to say the warning was not heeded.

Perhaps the best proof of this comes in the form of the recent Republican tax reform bill. The details of this bill have been covered previously on Care2, but simply put, it will mean wealthier Americans paying even less of their fair share while safety net programs are downsized. It is estimated that the new tax plan will mean a huge explosion of the national debt by as much as $1 trillion.

The fact that this bill will act as a crowbar widening the wealth gap in the United States is well known to its supporters. In fact, just hours after signing the bill into law, President Trump, while at Mar-a-Lago, boasted to those dining in his company that they “all just got a lot richer.”

The United Nations recently published a damning report on the incredible poverty present in the United States today – with thousands of children regularly missing meals, having no clothing to keep warm in the winter and even in some places ailments like E. coli and ringworm being commonplace thanks to open sewage lines.

If this is to continue to be the status quo, leaders in the United States and around the world who fail to address this mounting crisis are playing a very dangerous game. Already, certain hallmarks of desperate populations have emerged as formidable forces, be it populism, nationalism or even a longing for a strong, authoritarian leader.

Though the world’s wealth is ever climbing, the benefits of this are being enjoyed by fewer people than ever before. This is turning into a global nose dive and we are swiftly running out of time to pull up before a catastrophic collision with the ground.

Photo Credit: cherrybeans / Thinkstock

55 comments

Marie W
Marie W22 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Danuta W
Danuta W5 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Linda D
Linda D6 months ago

We need to stop the collective thinking of the 'rich getting richer'. When will it ever be enough for these people, how much money do they need and for what? Does it make them feel powerful? And stop using Amazon, he is rich enough! Purchasing power goes along way, support the little guys, the family business, the local store, grow your own, buy less, share more, create and make your own.

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees6 months ago

@Carole R "Yea, I bet. When you are rich, enough is never enough."

Actually there are many examples of the ultra rich saying they have enough and create charities to give away their wealth. Bill Gates is a prime but imperfect example as is the founder of Facebook.

Money can make a lot of things easier but it does not solve everything. Can you really buy happiness or love?

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees6 months ago

@Brian F "Eric L Most people support Medicare for All, free colleges, marijuana legalization, and a $15.00 an hour minimum wage."

Invalid argument. That may be true but that obviously does not change the facts. Obviously the average voter is not all that well informed and pretty ignorant when it comes to anything economic. How else did we end up with Trump vs. Hillary for President.

Yes inequality exists which you and Bernie keep pointing out. That's an emotional argument backed by nothing. It's easy to point out the symptoms of the problem. Bernie never talks about the root causes or how his "solutions" would actually work.

"Other countries have universal healthcare, free colleges, and a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, and it works for them."

Lot's of things can appear to work in the short term and the effects do not always appear right away. We are starting to see cracks in many of those countries now. We know those are not the best solutions and come at a high cost. Why strive to be mediocre?

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Carole R
Carole R6 months ago

Yea, I bet. When you are rich, enough is never enough.

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Ruth S
Ruth S6 months ago

Thanks.

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Brian F
Brian F6 months ago

Eric L Most people support Medicare for All, free colleges, marijuana legalization, and a $15.00 an hour minimum wage. Corporations are making record profits, and the average greedy CEO makes 300 times worker pay, up from 10 times 25 years ago. Bernie Sanders speaks of wealth inequality, which we have in this country, with 70% of the wealth going to the top 1%, and our middle class shrinking. You need to stop demonizing progressive policies that we desperately need in this country. How do you know they can't work, when we have never had them? Other countries have universal healthcare, free colleges, and a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, and it works for them.

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees6 months ago

Brian, you really need to start educating yourself more on economics

"Jill Stein supports progressive policies that we desperately need in this country like Medicare for All, a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, free colleges, and marijuana legalization."

The only thing that is progressive in that list is ending the war on natural drugs. Everything else would not bring progress but would instead cause more problems which are not even unforeseen they are well understood. There are better ways to achieve what supporters of those policies think they would achieve. And the main cause of all of those is government. Yet people expect government to fix them without undoing the root cause that created the problems.

The Oligarchy loves ignorance and we the voters so far have not disappointed them especially anything to do with money.

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Brian F
Brian F6 months ago

Mike K Jill Stein couldn't speak the language, and was never introduced to Putin, or spoke with him. Obama hired GW Bush's defense secretary. You need to stop getting so defensive when someone criticizes Democrats. Corporations own both corrupt parties and our media. It was many of the horrible policies of Obama who supported the TPP, and expanded the corrupt banks, who caused this fraud Trump to be elected. We need to have the freedom to criticize both corrupt parties without being demonized as Putin supporters by people like you. The Democrats just fired all the progressives who support Bernie Sanders, so they have no intention of allowing progressives like Bernie Sanders to lead the party, so they can continue their corruption, and make millions from Wall Street and corporations. Tom Perez got booed everywhere he went with Bernie Sanders on their unity tour, because people can see what a liar and sellout he is. Jill Stein supports progressive policies that we desperately need in this country like Medicare for All, a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, free colleges, and marijuana legalization. Most of the Democrats aren't supporting these progressive positions because they are corrupt like the Republicans. So voting for Jill Stein is the only alternative to the two party corporate owned duopoly.

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