World’s richest 500 increased wealth by $1 trillion in 2017

The world’s richest 500 people have seen their wealth jump by a massive margin in the past year, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index. This group brought their collective wealth to $5.3 trillion—an increase of around $1 trillion or 23 per cent in 2017.

Another report—the UBS/PwC billionaires report—found there are now 1542 dollar billionaires globally. The author of the report, Josef Stadler, said his mega-rich clients feared a “strike back” by the poor. The world’s 3.5 billion poorest adults make up 70 per cent of the world’s working population but hold just 2.7 per cent of global wealth.

Australia’s ultra-rich have matched the trend. In the last year the number of “Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals” worth USD $50 million or more has increased by around 30 per cent. There are now around 3000 of them according to the latest Global Wealth Report.
Another study from Oxfam revealed that there are now 33 billionaires in Australia, eight more than a year before and up from 14 in 2008. It shows that the top 1 per cent of Australians hold more wealth than the bottom 70 per cent combined. On a world scale the gap between the ultra-rich and the rest is at its highest point in around a century.

Study slams media racism

A study of mainstream media reporting has found more than half of all reporting on race related issues in Australia would likely contravene industry codes on racism.

Some 62 of 124 race related opinion pieces published between January and July 2017 were racist according to the standards. The study focused on the eight Australian newspapers and current affairs programs with the largest audiences.

Muslims were overwhelmingly in the crosshairs. They were the subject of over half the opinion pieces. Of those 63 per cent were negative, including 43 of the 124 opinion pieces, which often conflated Islam and terrorism. The Daily Telegraph, The Australian and the Herald-Sun were the most racist in print, while A Current Affair topped the list for broadcast media. The research was published in December by not-for-profit group All Together Now and the University of Technology Sydney.

This January the racism of the media was on full display when Channel Seven interviewed Blair Cottrell of the fascist United Patriots Front about anti-African vigilante actions they were organising in Melbourne. Cottrell has been convicted of racial vilification and expressed public admiration for Hitler. Yet the segment introduced him and his Nazi cronies as “concerned citizens” who had, in the words of the Channel 7 presenter, “come together to help average Australians deal with what they are calling an immigrant crime crisis”.

Pineapples left to rot in Queensland

Hundreds of tonnes of pineapples are being left to rot across Queensland due to a glut in the market. Ideal growing conditions have seen a bumper crop this year that has forced down the price of the fruit. With the price falling below charges for transporting it interstate and the Golden Circle cannery unable to process more fruit, it has gone to waste. For example, Damien Berra who farms 50 kilometres north of Townsville has left 40 tonnes of pineapples to rot or be used as feed for livestock.

Subsidy cut for hormone replacement therapy

The Department of Health has announced it will end the subsidy for the most common medical transition drug for transgender men and non-binary people assigned female at birth from 1 February. A spokesperson for the Federal Department made a statement saying, “Primoteston Depot (testosterone enantate 250 mg injection) will be deleted from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 February 2018.”

A transgender community advocate from WA, Kai Schweizer, told OUTinPerth, “Primoteston is the preferred method of hormone replacement therapy.

“Once the PBS remove it, trans people will be stuck with choosing between paying exorbitant prices for Primoteston or relying on an inferior method with greater side effects”.

Wages crash in new Agreements

Low wages are entrenched across the country in both the public and private sectors.

An average pay rise across the public sector of 2 per cent came out of the latest bargaining round—expected to mean a pay cut next year as inflation increases. The Reserve Bank expects inflation will increase from 1.9 per cent to 2.25 per cent by the end of this year.

The average 2.4 per cent wage increase in private sector agreements struck in 2017 is the lowest since Enterprise Bargaining was introduced.

Some of the biggest private sector agreements have savagely reduced pay. The Ikea agreement covering 2000 staff will pay a pitiful 0.9 per cent increase per year. The largest private sector agreement, covering 3300 long-haul Qantas flight attendants, paid only 1.8 per cent.

Selfishness makes the rich happy

A new study has found selfishness makes rich people happy. The study, published by academics Paul Piff and Jake Moskowitz, surveyed 1519 Americans, asking them questions about their household income and emotional state.

Piff said they showed that, “wealthier individuals may find greater positivity in their accomplishments, status and individual achievements, less wealthy individuals seem to find more positivity and happiness in their relationships, their ability to care for and connect with others.”

Upper class participants tended to agree with statements indicating they felt amusement, “Many things are funny to me”;, contentment, “I feel satisfied more often than most people” and pride, “It feels good to know that people look up to me”.

In contrast participants from lower class were more likely to agree with statements that indicate they feel love, “I develop strong emotions toward people I can rely on”; awe and compassion, “Nurturing others gives me a warm feeling inside”.

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