The world’s 85 richest own more than the poorest half of the world’s population combined, according to a report released by Oxfam on Monday.
“It is staggering,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam Executive Director, “that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage.”
Actually, it’s not staggering at all. It’s an inevitable consequence of the fact that poor people have nothing, and three and a half billion times nothing is still nothing. So the ratio of nothing to the wealth of Bill Gates and friends tells us nothing whatever.
But as for the fact that half the World’s population have nothing, so what? “The poor,” as Jesus correctly observed “will always be among you.” So why are we supposed to be so exercised about them now?
When I arrived in North America, I had two hundred and fifty dollars in my pocket, equivalent, I suppose, to several thousand dollars today, but still, not much more than a week’s wages.
But I had a job to go to, so I was able to rent a room, buy food, and an old car — a necessity in Ottawa in the winter where snow is cleared from the streets by piling it on the sidewalks making winter pedestrianism almost impossible.
So lack of wealth is not a problem. What matters is income. And what neither Oxfam nor the media peddling Oxfam’s meaningless statistic will tell you is that many of the world’s richest 85 got rich by exporting well-paid jobs from the West to Third World sweatshops, and pocketing the difference in wages for themselves.
Another thing that neither Oxfam nor the media will tell you is that, in the West, the rich own the media and control the government and institutions of higher education to insure that the treason of the elites in destroying the livelihood of millions will never be understood.
That is the real significance of Oxfam’s otherwise pointless statistic. And it appears, from the way that the story has been framed, that Oxfam is either a dupe or a lackey of the plutocratic elite, distracting attention from the very real misery of tens of millions of unemployed Westerners by focusing on some meaningless statistic about billions of poor people in the Third World.