Gap between rich and poor widens
The 62 richest people in the world are exactly as wealthy as the poorest half of the global population. This is the result of a study put out by the British aid organisation Oxfam. Some commentators call for more stringent taxation and an end to tax havens. Others believe the economic system is too complex to be made more fair.
Completely out of proportion
A debate about the fair distribution of wealth is needed, the centre-left daily Der Standard stresses: "Now it is nothing new that in capitalism, productively invested wealth, or in other words capital, creates more wealth, and so there is a natural tendency for the rich to get richer. That's why we have taxes - to balance this out. But the Oxfam data makes it clear that things have gotten completely out of proportion at the global level. The balancing systems are failing. Because most of the superrich haven't accumulated their wealth through dubious methods in some dictatorial country. On the contrary, these are people who are benefiting from the profits and increasing value of their investments, particularly in the financial sector. … So it's high time for a broad debate about fair distribution of wealth. The two central questions are: how to get rid of tax havens and how to tax wealth more fairly?"
Poor people can't be free
The gap between rich and poor contradicts human rights and undermines democracy, the left-leaning daily Avgi believes: "Such fundamental inequality destroys any and every notion of human rights. Everyone - and this is also one of the basic values of European societies - is supposedly 'born free and equal in dignity and rights'. But how free can you be when you have nothing to eat? And how can you guarantee equal opportunities when people are simply born in the wrong corner of the world? This inequality also results in further collateral damage. It undermines democracy. Wealth means power: the power to buy laws that make it possible to become even richer, to evade taxes legally and to change working conditions at will."
Economists also at their wits' end
How can effective measures against social inequality be taken when even economists don't have a complete grasp of the economic system? asks the liberal daily La Libre Belgique: "People say today that economic remedies are worse than the ills they are meant to cure. Overly high interest rates are a cause of concern? Well, rates that are too low for too long stand to provoke the next financial crisis. So what's to be done? Entrust the future to experts! That's not a sure remedy by a long shot. Two economists predicted the price of oil would rise to 380 dollars per barrel in 2015. It's now dropped to below 30 dollars. Those who criticised expensive oil are now saying cheap oil is just as bad for the global economy. But no doubt these experts are also wrong when they say exactly the opposite of what they said just a year earlier."