Oxfam’s analysis of the distribution of wealth proves to be nothing but hyperbole given that the majority of us actually are part of the very ‘elite’ they so earnestly attack
As a report commissioned by Oxfam revealed that the 80 richest people on the planet have a combined wealth equal to the 3.5 billion poorest and that the , many have leapt to criticise this as unfair, unjust and unacceptable. They are wrong and ought to look at the reality behind this sweeping statement.
As the grand and the good of finance gather in Davos, Switzerland for the “Burning Man for Billionaires” that is the World Economic Forum, Winnie Dyanyima of Oxfam said in a statement:
“Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering, and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast”.
Others, such as The Guardian’s Seumas Milne, went further and described this to be “a wealth grab on a grotesque scale”. Suggesting that “the Davos oligarchs are right to fear the world they’ve made”, he argued that “the overlords of a system that has delivered the widest global economic gulf in human history should be handwringing about the consequences of their own actions”. He finished by stating:
“It’s only through a challenge to the entrenched interests that have dined off a dysfunctional economic order that the tide of inequality will be reversed… Even to get to that point demands stronger social and political movements to break down or bypass the blockage in a colonised political mainstream. Crocodile tears about inequality are a symptom of a fearful elite. But change will only come from unrelenting social pressure and political challenge”.
Whilst no decent-minded person would argue against better living standards for all, Forbes’ Tim Worstall was actually one of the few commentators to actually see Oxfam’s numbers for what they are. As he points out in response to Milne, to be in the top 1% you need just under £530,000 ($800,000):
“And that’s the value of any equity you might have in a home, any savings and also your pension pot. So, anyone that owns a home in England (without a mortgage that is) and has a reasonable pension will be in that 1%. And anyone who owns a flat in London will almost certainly be in it. A house in Oxford, where Oxfam is based, would also qualify you. There’s only a bit over 5,000 people who work for Oxfam UK and I certainly don’t insist that all of them own their own homes free and clear. But if we add in the people at the other Oxfam organisations, those in other rich world countries like Canada, the US, France and Australia, then yes, I think we probably would find a couple of thousand people who made it into that global 1% by wealth”.
Oxfam’s crude numbers made for great headlines this morning but in reality this report is worth nothing but being used as tomorrow’s chip papers. In reality those that complain about wealth distribution and demand action against the super-rich ignore the real problem in the developed world and that is that we’re actually all middle class now.
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