Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oxfam, how do you redistribute wealth already created, without risking making the poor poorer?


“The world’s billionaires – the richest 2,000 people on the planet – saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.”

That particular paragraph is spoken like a true redistribution profiteer 😞

First: Where do those “one-year gains” originate? If from criminal corruption, if from skewed central banks stimuli, if from exploiting monopoly and similar forces, then a reduction in that wealth increase would be absolutely justified and good… but, if that wealth increase came from true wealth creation, or even from heritage, then a reduction of it could have very negative consequences for all, especially for the poor.

Second: If that wealth has already been created and is consequently represented by assets, how does one liquidate those assets so as not to affect the value of those assets, or in other ways put markets at risk? One of those 2.000 billionaires is probably he who bought Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” for $450 million. He, de facto, like with a sort of voluntary tax, froze $450 million of purchasing power on a wall, or in a safe box. How on earth does one go about to reconvert that into $450 million of new purchase power that could be handed over to the poor?

The Oxfam report contains many correct statements. I totally agree with that wealth should not be created by criminal and unfair behavior, or derived from crony statist relations; and I also agree with that wealth should not be used to abusively increase the influence of the wealthy in our societies.

But when the report states “To end extreme poverty, we must also end extreme wealth” I disagree. First because whether one likes it or not, wealth, as it is invested in assets, has de facto already been redistributed… like in the previous case to those who received the $450 million paid for the “Salvator Mundi”… to those who sell a luxury yacht… to those who sell handmade shoes in Milan… to governments by buying public debt… to markets by buying shares.

On the report Jeffrey Sachs comments: “Sometimes the super-rich call out Oxfam and others for ‘stoking class warfare’ but the truth is that in many societies, including my own, the United States, many of the super- rich have in effect declared war on the poor.”

That sounds precisely like what Chavez preached and now Maduro does in my Venezuela… and look where that has taken our poor country… with asset values and salaries totally destroyed over some very few years… a whole generation of Venezuelans growing up severely malnourished… and the Bolivarian revolutionaries blaming it all on the war declared on them by The Empire. 

Oxfam, a multinational confederation of NGOs, having issued this report, has now a moral obligation of explaining, once wealth has been created, how it can be redistributed without running the risks of making the poorest poorer. And, if it can’t, it should stop creating false expectations.

Expropriate it!