Top 1 percent own more than the other 99 percent

Oxfam International, a coalition of 17 organizations dedicated to reducing world poverty, just released its newest report on global income inequality. Fittingly titled “An Economy for the 1%,” the report states that the globe’s top 1 percent of earners now own more than the other 99 percent altogether. Moreover, the 62 richest people in the world own as much as 50 percent of the planet’s population.

Since the year 2000, income inequality has skyrocketed. The bottom 50 percent of the population have experienced a decrease in wealth of 41 percent—over a trillion dollars—and the top 1 percent has accumulated half of the total increase in global wealth since 2000. This occurs even as new technologies are brought to developing countries in order to improve their economies and help individuals.

The largest share of blame, according to the report, should be dealt to wealthy individuals who circumvent taxes through the use of consultants and offshore accounts. However, the increase in income inequality is also partially due to improvements in technology that increase capital gains.

“One of the key trends underlying this huge concentration of wealth and incomes is the increasing return to capital versus labor. In almost all rich countries and in most developing countries, the share of national income going to workers has been falling,” said the report. “This means workers are capturing less and less of the gains from growth.”

This issue is augmented by modern intellectual property laws, which drive out competitors and increase prices. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, spent over $228 million in 2014 on lobbying campaigns.

World Economic Forum Founder Klaus Schwab talked about the “fourth industrial revolution” that has resulted from the developments of new technologies. “Those who are entrepreneurs, who have talents, will push innovation—will gain from the revolution—and those who are on the other side, particularly in service positions, will lose,” he said.

From another perspective, this means that entrepreneurs in developing countries have a newfound shot at success. Half as many people lived below the extreme poverty line in 2010 than in 1990. According to the Oxfam report, however, the number of people living in extreme poverty “still remains unacceptably high.”

Article via The Washington Post, 21 January 2016

Photo: Boss by Santiago S.V. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Automate your law practice

David Sparks is famous for being a successful lawyer and a technology geek. He explains how he mixes both law and technology to make a unique practice. “I use technology to make my practice run faster and more smoothly. Nothing that I do is impossible for another lawyer to do and everything I do can be accomplished using either technology or manpower. Technology doesn’t give me something no one else has — but because of it my practice is much more lean, and, among other things, gives me an edge in terms of pricing.”

To keep his law practice running lean, automation is the answer. When asked why he automated his law firm he replied, “First, there’s efficiency—it’s much faster. When you have the computer doing something for you, you no longer have to type out words or take time to manually file documents on your computer. Second, it’s more accurate. The computer is doing the task, so for example, as long as you set up the rules correctly, the computer is always going to name files properly.”

Here are some of the tools that he uses to automate his workflow:

Hazel

Hazel is software for mac that is designed to clean and organize files in the background while you work.

I automate my firm’s documents using Hazel. So when I scan a document into my computer, the document is automatically saved in OCT format and then Hazel reads it and can identify clients, dates, etc., and will name the file and file it away for me in my system,” he says.

TextExpander for Mac

TextExpander allows you to create custom abbreviations that, once typed, will expand to full words or images.

“With TextExpander, when I’m drafting discovery documents — for example the list of 5 contention questions we use in California — I have created text expanders so I can type in the bits that are different in each case and TextExpander automatically creates and generates the questions for me. I was going to hire a paralegal to do this for me, but realized it’d be more efficient and more cost effective for the client to accomplish this task using automation.”

Sparks ends with some advice about bringing more technology into your practice. “My standard advice to lawyers is don’t be afraid of technology. It can make you a better lawyer and can save you a lot of money.”

Article via Above the Law, 23 July 2015

Photo: The Lawyer by Ard van der Leeuw [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]