January 20, 2013

Oxfam and the top 1%

Filed under: Economics, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:43

Oxfam is publicly blaming and shaming the top 1% of income-earners for their evil money-grubbing ways that deprive the worst-off and make poverty worse in developing countries. Simon Cooke explains why they’re wonderfully, gloriously wrong:

    “Concentration of resources in the hands of the top 1% depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else — particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder.”

And that top 1% isn’t you and me we’re led to believe — it’s those evil billionaire capitalists who are stealing the very bread from the mouths of the starving children. Let’s leave aside the fact that poverty is largely unrelated to inequality — people do not become rich by making others poor, however often Oxfam want to pretend that this is so. Instead let’s remind ourselves who the 1% are in terms of world development and poverty:

    The truth is that the entry level income for the world’s top 1% of earners is:


    That’s it, in real money not a great deal more than ¬£20,000 a year gets you into the 1% club — sits you among the world’s filthy rich, among those to blame for all the sins and evil of the world. Capitalist scum.

Most of you reading this blog are in the top 1% sucking up all those resources — depriving the poor in Africa and elsewhere of the chance to grow, to get out of poverty.

Except you’re not. Sit back, put a smile on you face — punch the air with joy. You and me — capitalists both — have sat getting a little richer for thirteen years while a billion folk have escaped absolute poverty. All the international trade, all those businesses and those business folk filling the posh seats in aeroplanes flitting across the world — they’ve done that, they’ve lifted those people out of poverty.

Oxfam are wrong. Neoliberalism is making all the world richer. Even the UN celebrates that neoliberal success:

    “For the first time since records on poverty began, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen in every developing region, including sub-Saharan Africa. Preliminary estimates indicate that the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate…”

This is what capitalism does. Isn’t it wonderful.

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