A new report from the charity Oxfam claims that the amount of money currently controlled by the richest 26 men and women in the world is equivalent to the total held by the poorest 3.8 billion people.
The report says that the 26 wealthiest people in the world control around $1.4 trillion. This, they claim, is the same amount of money as is controlled by the poorest 50 percent of the population of the entire world. This equates to 3.8 billion people.
A spokesperson for Oxfam said, “The way our economies are organized, wealth is increasingly and unfairly concentrated among a privileged few while millions of people are barely subsisting.”
Few would argue that such an imbalance of wealth was obscene. However, some critics have already found serious flaws in how Oxfam calculated their sums, according to the Daily Mail.
The way Oxfam has calculated poverty is to class anyone whose debt is higher than their assets as being poorer. But, as the Mail points out, under this model, a Havard law student with big debts who has just secured a well-paid job would be classed as poorer than a farmer in places like Ethiopia who doesn’t have any debts.
Matthew Lesh, who works for the free market leaning British think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, described the Oxfam report as “complete hogwash.”
Oxfam is a hugely prestigious global charity organization based in the UK, but it has come under considerable pressure in recent times. Some staff members have been found guilty of sexual exploiting impoverished victims of natural disasters in places like Haiti, while the charity as a whole has been accused of pushing a hard-left political agenda both in UK politics and overseas.
It is the latter claim which appears to be tarnishing this report, with critics suggesting it is part of Oxfam’s anti-capitalist agenda and goes well beyond their remit as a charity which raises funds from the public to help poor people around the world.
The report also fails to acknowledge the positive economic impact that most billionaires have in their respective economies and indeed around the world. The majority of the world’s richest people will employ tens of thousands of people and pay large sums of tax each year.
Many also run charitable foundations and contribute millions of dollars of their own money to help fight poverty and disease around the world. Many have also taken the Giving Pledge, pledging to give the majority of their wealth away to good causes on their death.