Talk about global wealth inequality

03 mohit tomar 9 g 6JcF6fk unsplashHow about these for some eye-popping numbers?

There are apparently 2,153 billionaires — yes, with a b — in the world who have the same collective worth as the poorest half of the world. Put another way, these 2,153 vastly privileged people have the same collective wealth as 4.6 billion — yes, with a b — poor people. And, who is the richest person in the world? He is Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and his estimated worth is $131 billion, almost six times North Carolina’s annual budget at one man’s disposal. Bill Gates is No. 2 at $96 billion, followed by Warren Buffett at $83 billion. Donald Trump comes in at a mere $3 billion. Much of that wealth has come from exploding technology and financial sectors. The report also finds that 22 men have more wealth than Africa’s 326 million women combined.

Oxfam, a group of 19 independent charitable organizations focused on reducing global poverty, issues an annual report on who holds the world’s wealth. The report, issued to coincide with this month’s gathering of the ultra-rich at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is based on data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, an outfit that has a good handle on where the money is. More than a few observers see the irony in rich people flying in on their private jets to discuss world poverty, among other issues. The Oxfam report is full of economic statistics that can be sliced and diced in all sorts of ways, not all of them positive.

The World Economic Forum also expands the elite billionaire category to the richest multi-millionaires, which means the top 1% of the world’s wealth holders have twice as much collective wealth as almost seven billion people. One way to visualize the disparity of this inequality is to imagine that if we all sat on our wealth in $100 bills, most of us would sitting on the floor. Middle class folks from a wealthy nation, say most Americans, would be sitting at chair height. The world’s two richest men, Bezos and Gates, would be sitting in space.

One aspect of world poverty and global inequity is that women put in literally billions of unpaid, undervalued work around the world, at least 12.5 billion hours adding almost $11 trillion — yes, with a t — to the world economy every year. This work includes women who walk miles to get water for their families, providing cooking, child-minding and other care work that is undervalued and generally unpaid, keeping the women in poverty and generating massive wealth for others.

In general, the rich get richer and the poor either stay the same or get poorer. Money makes money through investing — hence more billionaires, most of them Americans, but workers do not have enough money to make it work for them. Oxfam reports that while the poorest of the poor are making some progress worldwide, nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $5.50 a day.

“Extreme wealth is a sign of a failing economic system,” says the Oxfam report. Still, no one is realistically advocating snagging billions from the big-time “haves” of the world, much less from you and me. But Oxfam does have some suggestions to right the distortions that allow a few to accumulate vast wealth while most people struggle.

1.  Deliver universal health care, education and other public services to all, including women and girls. Limit or end privatization of public services.

2.  Invest in public services that allow women to move from daily hours of unpaid care services into actual employment.

3.  End the under taxation of wealthy individuals and corporations that now pay lower rates than middle-class individuals. Eliminate tax avoidance and evasion by the super-rich and corporations.

It took decades to get to such economic unbalance, and it will take decades to right our worldwide economic ship. What has occurred and how to deal with it is well worth pondering as we surf the internet with our fingers hovering over “Buy Now” on the Amazon website.


North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center good for this community

02 cv4I yield to Pat King’s editorial below because it seems to be the sentiment of many educated and well-informed Fayetteville residents on the historical, educational, cultural and fiscal benefits our community would gain from having the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center located in our community. It would be a big win — unless small minds and personal political agendas crush another opportunity for us to enhance the quality of life of all citizens. The impact of this facility on Fayetteville would be grand and historical. Will it happen? Stay tuned. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      — Bill
I just finished reading John L. Johnson’s letter published in The Fayetteville Observer Thursday, Jan. 23. It was the incentive I needed to write these comments. His characterization of “myopic attitudes and lack of visionary leadership” exactly matches my perception of the elected city officials — primarily the mayor — who are in a position to have the greatest influence on the possibility of the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center coming to fruition.

In the Dec. 29, 2019, edition of The Fayetteville Observer is an article by staff writer John Henderson titled “Debate rages on about proposed Civil War History Center.” There is no raging debate, only the slow strangulation of support for this important project by the mayor and those he calls “concerned citizens,” primarily citizens that he needs to maintain his power base and time in office. On page A6 of that edition is a picture of the mayor, another local politician and a phalanx of Colvin’s “concerned citizens.” As the mayor continues his flip-flop about the NCCWRHC, he manages to keep this particular constituency opposed to what is already a functioning Civil War and Reconstruction History Center.

If he took the time to learn about the great work that the History Center’s Cheri Todd Molter and her small staff are doing, he might come to understand that most of his incitement about the Center is false and harmful to eventually getting this significant project committed and under construction. Anyone who goes to the website and reads all the articles and watches the videos will understand what this facility will be — a teaching and learning center for all our people and (that will show) how this period shaped and still affects us all.

The mayor is resorting to the same tactics he used in his campaign to remove the Market House from recognition as the symbol of our city — keeping a number of our citizens hoodwinked into believing his version of the facts. It worked. And it will work again and lead to the demise of the NCCWR History Center by keeping it from becoming a full reality.

Mr. Johnson, the lack of “visionary leadership” you see will continue to do harm to the growth and betterment of our community unless citizens, like yourself, continue to speak up and support what is so desperately needed for the growth of jobs, development and investment in our city.

To the mayor I say: Take the time to fully understand and respond to Mr. Johnson like you did to Mr. Patrick Tuohey’s piece in Friday’s newspaper about the development along Hay Street. Your legacy is becoming one of keeping racial issues as part of what should be what is good for all of Fayetteville’s citizens. You should be focused on Fayetteville’s future — not on your future and re-election.

Nobody's Hero

14 Neil Peart"The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect." — "The Garden" by Rush.

 On Jan. 7, drummer, lyricist, motorcyclist and writer Neil Peart died from brain cancer. To the music world, he was one of the greatest drummers and percussionists ever. To the motorcycling world, he was a motorcycle enthusiast. To his fans, he was a hero.

 As the drummer for rock trio Rush, the band was different than the other groups in the 70s. They were the nerd squad. On tour, Rush was known for reading books, playing tennis and baseball, visiting museums and talking science fiction and philosophy. To them, the band was about the music and being the best.

 In 1997, tragedy hit. Neil's 19-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident, and nine months later, his wife died from cancer. Shortly after that, he packed up his BMW 1100GS and started riding. Absent for years, he traveled over 55,000 miles across the Americas. In 2002, he released the book, "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road." The book documented his journey of grief, motorcycle life and healing. In the end, he found love and returned to the band and work. The motorcycle community took note.

 It was no secret that Neil disliked touring and the notoriety of stardom. After a show, Neil would escape to his tour bus, and the band would pull into a place they called the "Chateau Walmart" for the night. The next morning, he would ride off to the next venue.

 As a lyricist, once Neil joined the band in 1968, he wrote all of Rush's lyrics with over 75 songs to his credit. Rush's most popular sounds were "Tom Sawyer," "The Spirit of Radio" and "Working Man." Over time, Neil wrote seven books, including four about motorcycling. Rush retired in 2015 with a 40-year tour.

 In June 1994, The Standard wrote about him growing up in St. Catharines, Canada. In the article, Neil said, "And in a world which is supposed to be so desperate for heroes, maybe it's time we stopped looking so far away. Surely we have learned by now not to hitch our wagons to a 'star,' not to bow to celebrity. We find no superhumans among actors, athletes, artists or the aristocracy, as the media are so constantly revealing that our so-called heroes from Prince Charles to Michael Jackson, are in reality, as old Fred Nietzsche put it, 'human — all too human.' … And maybe the role models that we really need are to be found all around us, right in our own neighborhoods. Not some remote model of perfection which exists only as a fantasy, but everyday people who actually show us, by example, a way to behave that we can see is good, and sometimes even people who can show us what it is to be excellent."

 In an article in Inc., Neil told the reporter, "Never follow anyone, be your own hero."

FTCC's sterile processing program produces unsung heroes

15 college studentsFayetteville Technical Community College's Central Sterile Processing Program offers students a chance to learn a new career and enter the health field in just 16 weeks.  Sterile processing is a field that does not receive a lot of attention, so spreading the word about opportunities in this field is a top priority.  It is a growing profession and needs trained, quality and technical individuals.

The Central Sterile Processing Program is part of the Department of Surgical Services at FTCC.  We offer a curriculum program, and our campus is military friendly.  The program’s goal is to provide the community with highly trained, certified technicians to build the local workforce.  Upon completion of the program, students will have the knowledge and skills to successfully pass the national certification exam provided by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. as a Certified Sterile Processing Department Technician.

The Sterile Processing Department is considered to be the “heart” of the hospital, as infection control starts here. SPD consists of disinfection, decontamination, preparation and packaging, sterilization, sterile storage, and distribution of medical supplies and equipment. Students must have a working knowledge of the SPD environment, including the types of chemicals used, surgical instrumentation, processes, record-keeping in addition to critical thinking and troubleshooting skills to name a few. Technicians must be able to provide safe, quality patient care.

The program is offered every fall semester and runs from August to December. Classes are broken up into two eight-week sessions. The program offers a combination class taught during the first eight weeks on campus in the evenings and shares information on an introduction to sterile processing, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and medical terminology. There is also a lab portion that meets two evenings a week and gives the students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate the necessary skills to prepare for the clinical environment. The second eight weeks are comprised of clinical hours and professional development in preparation for employment. Clinical hours are scheduled at various facilities with a minimum of 18 hours a week and vary from day to day based on the assigned location. Students are prepared for entry-level positions and are job-ready upon completion.

To find out more information and how to apply, visit, contact me at or call 910-678-9861. In addition to receiving affordable, high-quality education, students who attend Fayetteville Technical Community College have unique opportunities to network and experience leadership roles, enjoy athletics and much more. We invite you to visit our campus locations in Fayetteville, Spring Lake, or Fort Bragg and become a member of our team. Make the SMART choice for your education — Fayetteville Technical Community College.  

Legislative update: 2019-2020 long legislative session

05 teacher and studentsFriend, the 2019-2020 long Legislative Session has adjourned, and we still don’t have a budget. The failure to pass this budget lies with Sen. Phil Berger and the Republican leadership who are unwilling to compromise and work for all the people in North Carolina. Our educators deserve a pay increase, we need investment in our public education infrastructure, we must protect our water from contaminants like Gen X, North Carolinians need Medicaid expansion, and we can pay for it all by cutting corporate welfare in favor of taking care of the people of North Carolina. 

It is time to govern and put people over politics. Republicans continue to make excuses rather than working for the people of North Carolina and compromising on a budget that works for everyone. I am committed along with the other 20 democratic members in the Senate to continue this fight for a better budget. 

On Jan. 14, the North Carolina Senate met for a brief session before adjourning until April. 

During this session, no compromise was made on the budget. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and all Senate Democratic members offered to stay for as long as it takes to get an adequate budget that supports public education (K-12 and higher ed), teachers, support staff and retirees.

 What I’m fighting for in the budget process:
·     Adequate pay raise for teachers — GOP budget has a 3.8% raise, Gov. Cooper proposed 8.6%. Senate Democrats are fighting for a compromise of 6.5%.
·     Adequate pay raise for retirees — GOP budget has a 0.5% raise. Gov. Cooper proposed 2%. Senate Democrats suggested a compromise of 1.5%.
·     Adequate pay for noncertified educators — GOP budget included a $500 bonus. Gov. Cooper proposed 1.5%. Senate Democrats suggested 2%, while other state employees saw an increase of the minimum to $15/hour, facility staff like bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria staff and others have not seen a meaningful pay raise in years.
·     Democrats proposed a $100 million increase in public school infrastructure, including $19 million in additional funding for Cumberland County.
·     Democrats also proposed $5 million in additional resources to address contaminants like Gen X.

 The North Carolina General Assembly session has adjourned and will be back in session April 28. Please know that the office will continue to be open, so feel free to visit us at any time.  Please contact us by phone at 919-733-5776 or by email at for further questions.

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