Oxfam has with much clamour announced that next year the wealthiest 1% of the world will possess more wealth than the poorest 50%. The manner and means of their establishing this factoid has been shown nonsense by our friends at the IEA and the Adam Smith. Their metrics would make the graduate intake in Goldman Sachs to fall into dire poverty and there is a widespread suspicion that this is not “if fact” the case.
But what concerns here is not that they should be so incompetent with numbers. Nor that such incompetence to some suggests more a malign intent to deceit than mere dyscalculia. What worries me and should worry anyone who gives money to Oxfam and many other likeminded organisations is that they seem to value equality over the destruction of poverty.
What does it matter to a woman in Chad who no longer has to walk ten miles for clean water if I make a killing on the market. What does it matter to child in Laos who is goes to bed full every night if house prices in London are steepling? What does it matter to the girl working a sewing machine and not in a brothel if I possess seven apple devices? The fact is that the very poorest in the world for the past 20 years have been getting richer at twice the pace of the very richest.
By throwing off the chains (to a degree) of the planned economy of Marx and the LSE India and China in twenty five years dragged a billion people out of poverty. The Market, the immoral, dangerous and untamed Market has shown itself to be without question the best if not only tool for taking large numbers of people quickly out of poverty.
And not just there. Finally across Africa the good news is heard. Where the people are allowed to freely trade they make themselves wealthy. They can feed their children, can cure their sick and support their aged parents. No longer is Botswana the lonely beacon of advance across the great continent.
Yet it is precisely this mechanism for poverty destruction that Oxfam disdains and fears. Because the market is not the rain, success falls not on all alike. It inevitably produces inequality and therefore is axiomatically wicked.
But what I find wicked and I use that word deliberately is that one might choose a world which valued equality more highly than a system where though some might be rewarded extravagantly the poverty absolutely was reduced quickly and meaningfully.
It might be useful anyway to remind Equality worshippers that in the former Soviet Union and its satellites inequality were in fact much greater than in the West. The party members had their big flats in Moscow, their dachas in the country and access to luxury goods like butter and fresh meat and soft toilet paper.
Same story but different story. I could not help but notice that Pravda Donnybrook (RTE) reported this story first up and with the sentence which began “Oxfam has warned that next year…”
I don’t wish to join the ranks of tin foil hats and illuminati but a national broadcaster must be mighty careful of its language. Warns, not claims or states or predicts. Warns. A story which was a hash of nonsense statistics was given the headline place on our national news and its content basically uninterrogated.