Seven Dozen Rich People Have as Much Money as 3.5 Billion Poor People

A new report from Oxfam notes that the richest 85 people in the world have the same amount of combined wealth as the bottom 50% of the world's population. Let's take it from them.

It's bad, as the report notes, that the richest 1% of the world's population own 65 times more wealth than the bottom 50%. And it is sickening just how small a share of the pie the bottom 50% of people own. But the fact that 85 lone individuals—about the number of folks you could fit in a moderately crowded Olive Garden on a Friday night—own the same amount of wealth as three and a half billion of their fellow humans really throws the whole thing into stark relief. Never have I heard such an attractive argument for just confiscating the assets of the very rich.

Hell, let them keep a few million dollars each. They'd be set for life. Take the other trillion dollars and put it to work for the public good. Nationalize their companies, liquidate their assets, and use the proceeds to fund schools and public health and infrastructure and social services. It is no exaggeration to say that the assets of these 85 individuals could be taken and used to save tens or hundreds of thousands of lives, and meaningfully improve tens of millions more lives. And the only cost would be seven dozen angry—but not materially hurt—billionaires.

The gratitude of mankind is, after all, worth far more than money.

[Image via Oxfam]