Oxfam Deutschland e.V. (Ed.): Das Ungleichheitsvirus. Wie die Corona-Pandemie soziale Ungleichheit verschärft und warum wir unsere Wirtschaft gerechter gestalten müssen (The Inequality Virus. How the Corona Pandemic Exacerbates Social Inequality and Why We Need to Make Our Economy Fairer), Berlin, January 2021.
Ahead of the World Economic Forum, Oxfam publishes the report “The Inequality Virus.” The report shows how the Corona pandemic is exacerbating social inequality and why the solution lies in a just economic system.
As a result of the Corona pandemic, inequality is threatening to rise simultaneously for the first time in almost every country in the world. This crisis is exacerbating the already dramatic disparities between rich and poor, between genders, and between whites and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPoC). Just nine months after the outbreak of the pandemic, the 1,000 richest billionaires had as much wealth as they had in the period before COVID-19, while the world’s poorest people may take longer than a decade to overcome the effects of the pandemic.
The crisis shows, as if under a burning glass, the extent to which our current economic system is deepening inequality. Due to a lack of political will and chronic underfunding of public budgets, there is a lack of good public health, education and social security systems. Combined with unemployment, this particularly affects people living in poverty. Where these systems are lacking or too weak, more people become poor and die than elsewhere.
Governments must act now to combat extreme inequality and poverty. For the necessary measures to be financed, corporations and the super-rich must contribute their fair share to addressing the crisis.
The Corona pandemic must be a wake-up call to finally get to the root of extreme inequality and poverty. To do this, we need an economic system that reduces the power and influence of very large corporations, in which workers, producers, consumers, and other stakeholder groups participate on an equal political and economic footing, and that generates profits while respecting planetary boundaries and distributes them fairly from the outset. The key lies in democratizing the economy, which means that decision-making power must be broadly shared and not concentrated in the hands of a few.
We need basic social services that are equally accessible to all and not subject to a profit logic. Companies must be democratic and oriented toward the common good so that their actions serve everyone. And we need to create diverse and permeable market structures so that power is not accumulated by individual corporations. Things cannot and must not go on as before – neither in Germany or Europe, nor worldwide. Without a democratic economy, there will be no just and democratic society.