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At the end of May 2017, 14 of the richest people in the world joined a coalition of like-minded individuals in the Giving Pledge, an organization dedicated to providing a large portion of their fortunes to philanthropic endeavors.
The Giving Pledge was created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010. It strives to offer encouragement to the world’s wealthiest to provide aid to causes that address the greatest issues society faces today.

With the addition of these 14 individuals, the Giving Pledge now has 168 signatories spanning 21 different countries who have committed their wealth. They are committed to being a multinational and multigenerational organization (with members ranging in age from 31 to 93) that spans both distance and time in order to promote philanthropic goals.

This new group of initiates joins the Giving Pledge from diverse regions around the globe including Tanzania, Cyprus, Australia, Slovenia, China and the United States. Though these individuals come from all corners of the world, their ultimate drive of providing aid to those in need gives them a common goal.

“Philanthropy is different around the world, but almost every culture has a long-standing tradition of giving back,” Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said.

The 14 new individuals that have dedicated themselves to the Giving Pledge are:

  • Leonard H. Ainsworth – Australia
  • Mohammed Dewji – Tanzania
  • Dagmar Dolby – United States
  • DONG Fangjun – People’s Republic of China
  • Anne Grete Eidsvig and Kjell Inge Rokke – Norway
  • Sir Stelios Haji-Loanno – Monaco, Cyprus
  • Nick and Leslie Hanauer – United States
  • Iza and Samo Login – Slovenia
  • Dean and Marianne Metopoulos – United States
  • Terry and Susan Ragon – United States
  • Nat Simmons and Laura Baxter-Simons – United States
  • Robert Fredrick Smith – United States
  • Harry H. Stine – United States
  • You Zhonghui – People’s Republic of China

“Bill and Warren and I are excited to welcome the new, very international group of philanthropists joining the Giving Pledge, and look forward to learning from their diverse experiences,” Melinda Gates said.

These new members will join other notable individuals, including Michael R. Bloomberg (founder and CEO of Bloomberg LC), Richard Branson (Virgin and its subsidiaries) and George Lucas (director and creator of Star Wars), in their philanthropic endeavors.

Signatories of the Giving Pledge meet throughout the year to discuss philanthropic strategies, successes and failures. The group does not require members to participate in any particular cause.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

Wealth in Dubai: Making Generous Strides in the Global Poverty EffortFrom a small pearl fishing village to one of the richest cities in the world, Dubai has made quite the journey. Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

People believe that wealth in Dubai stems from its oil industry. However, it only accounts for about 7 percent of its total revenue. The big bucks are in Dubai’s real estate.  Reports show that most of the state’s $82.11 billion in revenue come from its investment in real estate, airlines, and sea ports.

Dubai has shown that its population has no plans to hold onto its wealth.  The city has made tremendous strides toward the eradication of global poverty and plans to continue to do so until it is eliminated.  Forty-six years after the foundation of the UAE, international aid provided by its government and non-governmental organizations has been estimated at $15.23 billion.  This international support using wealth in Dubai makes it one of the world’s largest contributors to foreign aid.

“Foreign aid and assistance are one of the basic pillars of our foreign policy.  For we believe that there is no true benefit for us from the wealth that we have unless it does not also reach those in need, wherever they may be, and regardless of their nationality or beliefs,” founder and former president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said.

The majority of Dubai’s foreign aid goes to programs that focus on the assistance of the poor, healthcare, energy generation, transport and storage.  In recent years, the state has put an emphasis on the pursuit of solar energy.

Dubai’s leaders say that sustainability and clean energy are priorities for any long-term resolution to issues created by poverty.  They say that further investment in solar energy will lead to its use in emergency operations, schools, refugee camps and other aid processes of this kind.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

united_states
Fifteen-years-ago, education was a golden ticket to a good secure job in the United States. The idea was to go to school, get a four-year degree and land a good career. College education was just that: education. Disciplines did not matter as much as the actual degree.

Times have changed. Increased pressure from other countries has created strong competition and graduating Americans are not given preference over other people anymore. Employers are looking for the skill sets necessary to complete the job and they are not afraid to outsource to get it.

Specialization has become more and more trendy and two-year degrees and specific training courses have surged in popularity. A May 2015 study from Georgetown University suggests that college graduates will earn $1 million more than high school graduates.

This is not new as it has been widely known for a while. The kicker though, the highest paying majors earn $3.4 million more that those with the lowest paying majors.

The study suggested that STEM related fields heavily out paid social sciences. For example, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or architecture earns an average of $83k annually over the course of their career, while a graduate degree holder in education earns $60k over their career on average.

The relationship is quite complex. Another influencing factor was whether graduates worked in the for-profit, nonprofit or public sector; which industry they worked for; and whether they participated in professional development after they had started their careers. Educators working business jobs, for example, would make more than an engineer working as a teacher.

As time has gone by, humanity studies have declined and business and STEM degrees are on the rise in America. This is heavily influenced by what is in demand in the labor market. Business degrees make up 26 percent of college-educated workers. Although humanity majors are down, liberal arts and humanity class enrollment has gone up due to more rigorous general education requirements.

Attainment is another major finding in the study. Among the 15 major groups, biology and life sciences majors are most likely to earn a graduate degree, while communications and journalism majors are the least likely to earn a graduate degree. Fifty-eight percent of biology and life sciences majors earn a graduate degree, compared to 21 percent of communications and journalism majors.

Better counseling and mentorship programs are needed to help future students become fully educated about the degrees they decide to pursue before enrolling. An August 2015 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis looked at how college degrees affected a person’s income and ability to manage financial hardships such as the recession. They analyzed data from 1992 to 2013 to determine trends, reporting wealth and income correlations with racial and ethnic groups.

They found that regardless of skin color or ethnicity, the median net worth of families headed by someone with a four-year degree was 3.6 to 9.8 times larger than families headed by less-educated persons. However, when it came to race, the landscape looked a lot different in terms of handling recessions.

Asians and Caucasians who had four year degrees withstood economic recessions better than their uneducated counterparts and typically accumulated more wealth over the long run. Blacks and Hispanics fared worse. The study concluded that Hispanic and black families with degrees typically fared “significantly worse” than those without degrees. College-educated Hispanic and black families experienced declines in wealth during and after the economic collapse of 2008.

The higher education system in the United States has been continuously scrutinized for not doing enough to provide opportunities for minorities. This is an easy narrative to blame for all the problems. The reality is much more complex. Racism does affect mental health and has led to many problems in society that affect economics and social welfare but there is still much unknown according to the study.

The U.S. must fund more studies and strategize better on how to deal with these imbalances. Further research is needed to understand why there are such disparities in wealth among racial and ethnic groups.

Adnan Khalid

Sources: Center on Education and the Workforce, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Photo: Rainbow Educational Consulting

income_inequality
The World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting is occurring in Davos, Switzerland and there is one issue that is being presented as one of the largest challenges that has to be faced in the coming years.  Income inequality around the world is rising and experts say that it is going to become an explosive issue as time goes on.

Oxfam recently released an article that puts into startling perspective how significant an issue income inequality is becoming. Oxfam found that the 85 richest people on the globe have as much collective wealth as the poorest half of the world.  This is a staggering statistic. Oxfam goes on to point out that the richest one percent of the world holds an accrued wealth of $110 trillion dollars, while the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world posses roughly the same amount.

Oxfam’s report also pointed out that in the United States, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent have become poorer. The report goes on to point out how the wealthy have taken advantage of their wealth and created tax havens and other political means to ensure their wealth remains unaffected.

The Huffington Post released a report in which it found that the U.S. has the worst income inequality in the world. It cited the tax code as a huge reason  for the massive income inequality bracket in the U.S. The report also highlighted Wall Street as a reason for the U.S. having the world largest income inequality range. “The same politicians that have busily been slashing taxes on the wealthy have also been loosening fetters on banking, allowing the financial sector to swell to bloated size and mop up ever-more income while contributing ever-less back to the economy.”

Oxfam’s Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, issued a statement saying, “Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table.” She went on to say that with the WEF having income inequality as a hot button issue, the attendees will work personally to make sure that they are not taking advantage of various tax breaks and things of that nature as well.

The WEF is a amazing opportunity for many of the world leading figures to come together and begin to try and sort out many of the issues that plague our society.

 Arthur Fuller

Sources: Business Insider, Huffington Post, Huffington Post, Oxfam
Photo: WTW

South Africa
With a GDP of over 384.3 billion dollars, and a GDP growth of over 2.5 percent, South Africa is the wealthiest nation in Africa and the 25th wealthiest in the world.  By the year 2000, South Africa GDP was 40 percent of the total Sub-Saharan GDP.

Over 11 million South African citizens are currently food insecure, making over one-fourth of the population in imminent danger of malnutrition.  24% of the nations citizens are moderately to severely stunted, with another 9 percent of the population moderately to severely underweight.

The most harshly affected areas are the cities of Cape Town and Msunduzi. In Cape Town, 80 percent of the poor face food insecurity, while over 87 percent are affected in Msunduzi.

What factors are inflaming the situation? South Africa, despite producing “sufficient food for its’ population”, rising food costs have prevented poor “urban households” from obtaining proper “nutrition.”

Dr Jane Battersby-Lennard from the Food Bank of South Africa stated food is available, but impoverished residents of these urban centers can not afford the food. The nation’s “poor areas” have “seven times fewer supermarkets than rich areas”, making it extremely difficult for poorer residents to obtain food of adequate dietary value. She also noted that most urbanized residents reside within the “severe food insecurity category”, creating a situation where “meal sizes” are shrunk and families go “hungry for days.” In an attempt to save money, meals are downsized significantly.

The situation has been categorized by the term “Hidden Hunger.” South Africa is noted for it’s wealth and abundance of food, so the idea that such extreme levels of starvation can occur in this nation is astonishing to many. Even with the vast availability of food, residents lack of wealth result in them purchasing less than adequate food. This results in a “chronic lack of vitamins and minerals” which prevents impoverished residents from living a healthy, nutritional lifestyle.

Malnutrition has become an epidemic, both “under-nutrition” as well as “over-nutrition.” Over-nutrition has impacted large swats of improverished residents who purchase low-cost food deficient in essential vitamins, resulting in citizens becoming “overweight” and developing “obesity.”

South Africa’s rural population, which accounts for about 14 million people, are also destructively affected by the lack of proper nutrition. Moderate factors such as access to common household resources like “electricity and refrigerators” impinge on the storing of essential goods.

Dr. Mieke Faber and Dr. Friede Wenhold, working on a study proposed by SA Water Research Commission or WRC, found that rural populations are not exploiting natural resources such “water, soil and plants”, but instead, heavily relying on purchasing food and not producing crops. Water Research Commission executive manager Gerhard Backeberg emphasized the need for impoverished communities to take advantage of these resources to help combat food insecurity.

The wealth of a nation does not necessarily mean all of it’s residents receive the same treatment. Unequality in wealth and poor access to nutrition can blemish a nation’s reputation heralded for its economic successes. Addressing the health concern of impoverished residents is a necessity for South Africa to advance as a nation.

Joseph Abay

Sources: Foodbank.org, WFP, Times Live, Health 24, Gallup, World Bank, UNICEF, VOA News, Children Count, Stats SA, BBC, The Economist, All Africa, The Independent, Digital Journal

 

5_Richest_Countries
With the holidays quickly approaching, everyone is sharing what they are grateful for. Family, friends and jobs top the lists of many individuals. And the holiday spirit has many people anxious to give to the less fortunate. In the global arena, many developed nations possess greater resources than their less fortunate neighbors. Here’s a list of the five richest countries and their five poorest neighbors:

Richest Countries

1. Qatar

The Arab state is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas with a GDP per capita (PPP) of $105,091. It only has 2 million residents.

2. Luxembourg

Despite its small size, Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world with a GDP (PPP) of $79,593.

3. Singapore

Located in southern Asia, the country has a GDP (PPP) of $61,567 and a population of 5 million residents.

4. Norway

The country has a GDP (PPP) of $56,663, earning the majority of its wealth from petroleum, natural gas and fresh water reserves. It is also the least dense European country.

5. Brunei

The country boasts a GDP (PPP) of $55,111 with most of its revenue derived from its reserves of crude oil and natural gas.

Poorest Countries

1. Eritrea

Located near the Horn of Africa, the country has a GDP (PPP) of $792.13. It has a fast growing economy compared to its neighbors.

2. Liberia

The West African country’s instability due to past civil wars has caused the GDP (PPP) to stagnate at $716.04.

3. Burundi

Violence in the region plays a dramatic role in the country’s economy which has a GDP of $648.58. Inhabitants of the region often face corruption, poor education and AIDS.

4. Zimbabwe

Like many African countries, Zimbabwe’s economy has taken continual hits. The country currently has a GDP (PPP) of $589.46 and attracted attention in the past due to human rights issues in the past.

5. Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo currently has the lowest GDP with $394.25 per capita. The second largest country in Africa has potential to greatly benefit from its mineral reserves and land for agriculture but its economy continues to be effected by violence in the region.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: Top 10 Always, The Richest
Photo: Trulia

Millenium_development_goals
In 2000, the United Nations and its partners decided upon a set of goals to improve the well-being of the world’s poor.  These eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were promised to be met by 2015.
1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty And Hunger
2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
3. Promote Gender Equality And Empower Women
4. Reduce Child Mortality
5. Improve Maternal Health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, And Other Diseases
7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8. Global Partnerships For Development
There have been numerous success stories from the aid that these various MDG’s produced. Many people claim some goals have been met or are very close to being met. Others say the world is far from meeting any of these goals. For the most part, however, people agree these goals will not be met by 2015 due to aid either being reneged or countries choosing to not fully commit.
“It’s clear that come 2015, the world’s report card on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be scored incomplete,” says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Dr. Babatunede Osotimehin. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of these goals is a lack of financial commitment by various countries. This commitment asked by the United Nations is a 0.7 percent gross national commitment.
If all of the wealthiest countries make this commitment, it would create enough aid to meet these MDG’s and beyond, eventually eradicating global poverty. Many countries have already made this commitment. Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands have fully committed 0.7 percent and many other countries are on their way to committing, either this year or the next.
Unfortunately, there remain five countries that refuse to make the commitment: Japan, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the United States.  In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama requested this commitment be made. Named the Global Poverty Act, this bill did pass in the House but was thrown out of the Senate.
If the U.S. were to make this commitment of 0.7 percent, it would create national security, control overpopulation and improve the economy. The number one thing that citizens can do is pick up the phone and tell their representatives to support the 0.7 percent commitment to meet these MDG goals and beyond. This will eventually eradicate poverty, hunger, child mortality and disease across the world.
Amy Robinson

Sources: ABC News, UN, Kofi Annan Foundation
Photo: New Grounds

 

phantom_firms_obiang_guinea
Ranked as the most impoverished country in the world, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, surprisingly, is home to many natural resources. More than half of the world’s cobalt, and a third of all diamonds, come out of Congo mines – yet nine out of 10 people in the Republic are living below the poverty line. How is this possible?

The answer is phantom firms – bogus corporations shaded in anonymity, phantom firms are set up by dishonest people usually seeking to embezzle large amounts of money. They are illegal and recent efforts have increased tremendously in fighting these firms.

Unfortunately, Congo is estimated to have lost $5.5 billion USD through highly unfavorable deals with such firms – $1.3 billion in the period between 2010 and 2012 alone.

Through companies with fake names such as Unlimited Horizon, Inc., Beautiful Vision, Inc. and Sweetwater Malibu, LLC, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the second vice president of Equatorial Guinea has bought expensive mansions, jets, and – rather curiously – several Michael Jackson collectibles. Teodoro is currently under investigation for corruption by both French and American government officials.

According to publicly available documents filed against him, Teodoro is suspected of money laundering, fraud and extortion and other acts. The case against him, however, was thrown out due to a lack of evidence. The government of Equatorial Guinea refused to cooperate, and no further evidence was acquired against him.

How can leaders of the Congo Republic allow their assets to be sold off at such low, unprofitable prices? It is largely speculated that a handful of high-ranking people receive a share of all the profits made through the mines. This would mean that few people of high status live in overflowing luxury in the Congo, while the vast majority of citizens are struggling to survive.

A country with ideal opportunities for market and trade, the Congo tops the lists of most impoverished places on Earth year after year. While the “shell” firms exist, the Congo’s economy will probably remain at an all-time low.

Those billions of dollars would have been more than enough for providing welfare to the entire nation, but instead, they are in one man’s pocket, providing him with beachside villas in Malibu and authentic shirts soaked in Michael Jackson’s sweat.

– Natalia Isaeva
Sources: Congo Forum, One: How Phantom Firms Have Robbed the DRC of Billions, One
Photo: Foreign Policy

poverty-reduction
The gap between rich and poor is widening. It takes money to make money, and so inequality is becoming exacerbated as the rich get richer.

Rising inequality has impeded efforts to eliminate global poverty. With a greater share of wealth being captured by those in the highest income bracket, the amount reaching the lowest is continually decreasing. Two nations with equivalent GDP growth rates could have drastically different levels of poverty depending on income equality. For example, in India, the net worth of 46 billionaires is $176 billion. This number represents 12% of the GDP of India, as opposed to 1% fifteen years ago. Half of that amount would be enough to eliminate absolute poverty in India.

The irony of this unchecked growth of the upper classes is that eventually it can result in a restriction of growth. Extreme inequality slows the development of markets and limits investment opportunities for the poor. Inequality also diminishes the political power of the poor. This skewing of power can reduce government efficiency and allow for tax evasion by the wealthy, limiting the government’s ability to invest in necessary infrastructure to sustain growth.

If we’re to see success in the fight against global poverty, then rising equality must be allowed to play its part.

– David Wilson

Source: The Guardian
Photo: Global Post