Yesterday in New Zealand media ran a story from Oxfam that tried to compare a few rich people with a lot of poor people.
The country’s two wealthiest people own the same amount as the poorest 30 percent in New Zealand.
And the richest 1 percent of New Zealanders own 20 percent of wealth, while 90 percent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth.
Oxfam New Zealand executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said it was shocked to discover the wealth inequity in this country, saying it was trapping huge numbers of people in poverty and fracturing societies, citing the drop in home ownership rates as one example.
“New Zealanders love fairness, not inequality. The government should be tackling inequality here and globally, by cracking down on tax avoidance wherever it is, and using that money to make our country, and the global economy, a fairer place. This wouldn’t just be the right thing to do, a more fair economy would also be simple common sense and enormously popular with New Zealanders,” she said.
The Oxfam research highlighted the gap between the wealth of individuals, rather than disposable incomes.
There is an issue of concern about growing income and wealth disparities, and Oxfam succeeded in getting headlines, but they are making comparisons that are vague, and the solutions are more vague.
It is dog whistle type politics, trying to denegrate people with higher levels of wealth and higher earnings – ‘ rich peoeple bad’ sort of thing.
What do they propose? Taking all the wealth off the wealthy – and with the two they named here much of that wealth is probably not in New Zealand – and distribute it to all the poor babies who deserve it?
I have no idea whether Oxfam are comparing the wealth of fifty years olds to fifteen year olds or five year olds. Who are the poorest 30% here?
New Zealand should strive to improve life and opportunities for poorer people for sure, but I don’t know that Oxfam’s approach is going to help.
Oxfam said New Zealand’s findings were consistent with other countries where the gap between rich and poor was greater than previously thought.
It blamed big business and the extremely wealthy for the growing discrepancy, saying they fuelled the inequality crisis by avoiding taxes, driving down wages for their workers and the prices paid to producers and investing less in their businesses.
This sounds very much like big business bad – yes, there are issues that need addressing, but demonising all wealthy people and businesses makes no sense apart from populist appealing and squealing.
If businesses didn’t make profits they wouldn’t employ and pay people. Is that what Oxfam want?
As a charity Oxfam doesn’t pay tax, in New Zealand at least. Do they pay equal wages to all their employees?
This is a world wide campaign by Oxfam time to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The Times: Eight men are richer than half the globe
Only eight billionaires have as much combined wealth as the poorest half of the world, according to Oxfam.
Six Americans, a Mexican telecoms entrepreneur and the Spanish founder of the Zara clothing chain are between them worth more than the 3.6 billion people who form the poorest half of the world’s population.
Oxfam released its latest report into the scale of global inequality to coincide with the start tomorrow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where about 3,000 of the global business and political elite, including Theresa May and Philip Hammond, will gather for the annual meeting.
The forum has put inclusive growth and inequality on the agenda, but Oxfam has latched on to the backlash against the status quo.
I presume that a significant proportion of donations to Oxfam comes from people with higher wealth and incomes.
I used to donate regularly (automatic payments) to Oxfam, but stopped when they became more political.
I think there are real issues with income and wealth disparities, and with international tax avoidance.
I don’t think that trying to shame the rich with apples and oranges wealth comparisons will achieve much.