I refer to an online article from the BBC dated January 22nd, which was titled ‘World’s richest 1% get 82% of the wealth -say Oxfam.’ That should come as no surprise to those who pay attention to such studies and statistics; or that the gap between the super-rich and the regular poor continues to widen year after year almost without a break. But there was another powerful statistic embedded in that Oxfam report, which revealed that the 42 richest individuals in that top 1% had a combined wealth that exceeded that of half the world’s poor. Although not totally unknown, this is still staggering.
Editor, the reason why this BBC item caught my attention, and why I singled it out for mention here is because I believe that a similar if not greater wealth disparity exists here in this society. It does not require a study, or any deep digging, to get the sense that there are some super, super rich people in this state. They outpace, in terms of wealth, all the holdings in any form of all the poor people in this country. I would venture that a mere handful or two (literally ten) of the wealthiest persons around these parts have amassed more than the citizens whose annual compensation package is below six figures. I think the imbalance is that pronounced, and furnishes evidence of what went wrong in this land, and which then became the way of life for those calling the shots and influencing outcomes.
Numbered among that top ten would be one political character, two to three old-time captains of commerce, and about half a dozen new money people of suspicious pedigrees and histories. The sensible observer to any reasonable scientific evaluation would narrow and confirm that this massive wealth accumulation rests in the holdings of a chosen few. It is a veritable Guyanese version of the Forbes List of multi-billionaires, and in more than one currency. Balzac did say that, “behind every great fortune, there is a correspondingly great crime.” That would be many of the great crimes unleashed here in the last few decades. During those free-for-all times, the wretched Guyanese poor were told how good they have it, how far the country did come, and they along with it. They were also overloaded with who was responsible for their imaginary wealth mobility. Rather craftily, the rich one(s) doing the talking went to great lengths to disguise how much they themselves grabbed and gathered during their facilitation of the movement of the poor to more comfortable circumstances. Many men, wherever they may be on this planet, have not had it so good for so long. They do not share those juicy secrets with the unemployed, the unskilled, or the soon-to-be hungry. They are too busy counting previous intake, and too preoccupied with plotting a future return.
Call it whatever comforts: wealth gap or poverty trap or poverty line. In this country, there is the stinking rich and the multitude of countless poor. The latter can barely eat.