85 people own over half the wealth in the world. Yes, that comes with politicians and pundits attached.

The top 85 richest people in the world are wealthier than the bottom half of the world’s population, said Oxfam, the non-profit group based in Switzerland.

In advance of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, which begins Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam released a briefing paper entitled “Working for the Few” that highlights the growing concentration of wealth in the world…

“This trend may seem surprising in light of the recent global financial crisis. Yet, while the crisis caused a momentary dip in the share of global wealth held by the rich, they have already gained it back, and more. In the United States, the wealthiest 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth between 2009 and 2012 while the bottom 90 percent became poorer,” Oxfam said.

In the United States, the top 1 percent own 50.4 percent of the wealth, a disparity unseen since World War l.

The pace of the growing disparity can be seen over the past few decades. If the ratio had remained unchanged since 1980, the report said, everyone in the bottom 99 percent would be worth an additional $6,009 today, the group said.

The trend, further, is not exclusive to the United States. Only two countries, Colombia and the Netherlands, have seen the gap between the rich and the poor shrink in recent years, the report said…

“The latest trends in the 2000s showed a widening gap between rich and poor, not only in some of the already high-inequality countries such as Israel and the United States, but also — for the first time — in traditionally low-inequality countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden [and other Nordic countries], where inequality grew more than anywhere else in the 2000s,” the World Economic Forum said in a release.

The group recommended people demand a living wage, stronger laws to support minimum wages and workers rights. It also recommended “removing the barriers to equal rights and opportunities for women,” among other steps.

What! Oppose the War on Women? They’ll never get any contributions from the clown show that masquerades as American conservatism nowadays.

Next, they’ll want to support silly stuff like democracy, equal access to education, maybe even global universal suffrage.

Netherlands #1 for plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable food

The Netherlands is No. 1 in the world for having the most plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable diet, beating France and Switzerland into second place. Chad is last in 125th spot behind Ethiopia and Angola, according to a new food database by worldwide development organization Oxfam.

European countries occupy the entire top 20 bar one – Australia ties in 8th place – while the US, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada all fall outside. African countries occupy the bottom 30 places in the table except for four – Laos, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are there too.

Oxfam’s “Good Enough to Eat” index [.pdf] compares 125 countries where full data is available to create a snapshot of the different challenges people face in getting food. Oxfam’s GROW campaign is calling for urgent reform to the way food is produced and distributed around the world to end the scandal of one in eight people going hungry despite there being enough to feed everyone. The new index looks at whether people have enough to eat, food quality, affordability, and dietary health…

The countries whose citizens struggle for enough food, with the worst rates of malnourishment and underweight children, are Burundi, Yemen, Madagascar and India. On the other side of the table, Cambodia and Burundi are countries that score better by having among the lowest levels of obesity and diabetes in the world, while US, Mexico, Fiji, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia score most poorly with high rates of obesity and diabetes.

Iceland scores a perfect mark for the quality of its food, in terms of nutritional diversity and safe water. Iceland’s obesity and diabetes levels push it down the table, to 13th spot. Similarly, unhealthy eating pushes the US down to 21st place.

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: “This index lays bare the common concerns that people have with food regardless of where they come from. It reveals how the world is failing to ensure that everyone is able to eat healthily, despite there being enough to go around.”

“Poverty and inequality are the real drivers of hunger. Hunger happens where governance is poor, distribution weak, when markets fail, and when people don’t have enough money and resources to buy all the goods and services they need,” she said. “Having sufficient healthy and affordable food is not something that much of the world enjoys.”

RTFA for a snapshot of the report and a modicum of detail. Go on to the .pdf report in depth on 125 countries.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the unity between a sound diet and exercise. The pairing that makes extra sense for health in the Netherlands – and probably the opposite for Iceland in my meager experience. A lot of exercise in Iceland is the same as Scotland, e.g. elbow-bending.

Fact remains, this sort of knowledge helps any of us at the individual level. You won’t be doing yourself any harm by comparing your own lifestyle with the models appropriate to the nations doing well. Especially if you fit the failed model of nations like the US.