Five stark and glaring facts about income inequality from a major new report

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." – Former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Oxfam, a confederation of charitable organizations dedicated to the reduction or elimination of poverty, has been publishing a yearly study about wealth inequality since 2012. 

Not surprisingly, the 2017 report shows that it's getting worse. Much worse, in fact: Last year, just 42 people have as much wealth as the bottom 1/2 of the entire world.  

Citing tax evasion, corporate influence on policy and governments, attacks on workers' rights, and "cost cutting" as the big reasons for the increase in inequality, Oxfam has a message for world leaders at the World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland: address inequality by talking about the failing systems that cause the world's wealth gap to widen.

Oxfam director Mark Goldring put an even finer point on it in the published results of the study by stating that ordinary people should receive a living wage, and "If that means less for the already wealthy, then that is a price that we — and they — should be willing to pay."

There's pushback to the data and the study. Some "free market" fans have been tweeting back at Oxfam, claiming that raising taxes and redistributing wealth won't help the poor. 

Inequality is a meaningless statistic. The poor are getting richer, that's fantastic news! Just because the rich are getting rich faster doesn't take away from that! Global wealth isn't a fixed pie.

— Simon Tompkins (@Honest_Sy1) January 22, 2018

Is life after 75 worth living? This UPenn scholar doubts it.

What makes a life worth living as you grow older?

Culture & Religion
  • Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel revisits his essay on wanting to die at 75 years old.
  • The doctor believes that an old life filled with disability and lessened activity isn't worth living.
  • Activists believe his argument stinks of ageism, while advances in biohacking could render his point moot.
Keep reading Show less

Brazil's Amazon fires: How they started — and how you can help.

The Amazon Rainforest is often called "The Planet's Lungs."

Politics & Current Affairs
  • For weeks, fires have been burning in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, likely started by farmers and ranchers.
  • Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has blamed NGOs for starting the flames, offering no evidence to support the claim.
  • There are small steps you can take to help curb deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen.
Keep reading Show less

Amazon is selling thousands of banned, unsafe, and mislabelled products, report shows

The world's largest retailer has evolved "like a flea market," according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • The report found more than 4,000 listings for products deemed to be unsafe, banned or mislabelled.
  • These products included mislabelled pain relievers, dangerous children's toys, and helmets that had failed federal safety tests.
  • There are some steps you can take to avoid buying unsafe or counterfeit products from Amazon.
Keep reading Show less