Oxfam says the richest 1% control more than half the world's wealth (updated)

The NYT published a press release from Oxfam claiming that the richest 1% control more than half the world's wealth.  I don't know if that's true, but if it is...who cares?

Even if it is true, where exactly is this money being held?

Investors with interests in finance, insurance and health saw the biggest windfalls, Oxfam said. Using data from Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires, it said those listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and health care industries saw their net worth jump by 47 percent.

Oh, they're being held in businesses.  Businesses, that, you know, employ thousands of people.  Businesses, such as insurance, that enable other businesses to function.  Businesses that produce products and services that millions of people want or need.

Did these richest of the rich forcibly take money from others?  Were people forced to hand over their money?  I don't think so.  I think people handed over their money voluntarily, and were even eager to do so, to get goods and services.

Where it becomes involuntary is when governments do it, through taxation and deficit spending.  People can choose to buy or not to buy products from a company, but they can't choose whether or not to pay taxes.  A rich person spending money can't impoverish people, but government spending can and does impoverish people.

Look at Greece.  The government spent much more money than it had, and the economy has basically collapsed.  And the rest of Europe isn't far behind.  Too much government spending has created record joblessness and poverty.

Spending by rich people and large companies, on the other hand, can increase both the concentration of wealth and the amount of it in everyone's hands.  Let's say a rich person puts up the money to open a restaurant.  He puts up the money and hires 10 employees.  If fantastically successful, he may keep 3 out of every ten dollars and pay the rest as salary to the ten employees and suppliers.  He keeps a disproportionate share of the profits, and he gets richer faster, relative to his employees, and yet his employees are also getting richer.  They may not get as rich as fast as their employer does, but they are getting richer, and without him, they wouldn't get any money at all.

That's why concentration of wealth is not incompatible with increasing wealth levels for everyone.  All that money that's being plowed into finance and insurance and health care is stimulating the economy.

Government spending, on the other hand, has a much lower multiplier effect than private spending, because much of government spending is simply redistribution that produces nothing, or pays for the salaries of bureaucrats, who also produce nothing.

So asking about concentration of wealth is the wrong question.  The right question is whether the bottom 50% is getting more money than it had before, irrespective of its comparison to the top 1%.  And if it's not, is it due to government policies?  You won't see any of these questions addressed in the Oxfam/NYT class struggle agitprop press release, though.

Please read the underlying article and let me know in the comments section if it is successful in making you feel like engaging in class struggle.

Pedro Gonzales is editor of Newsmachete.com, the conservative news site.

Update from Jack Hellner:

There is an easy solution to narrow the wealth gap.  Collapse the economy.

If real estate, the stock market, and corporations collapsed, that would rapidly narrow the gap.  Taking money from the rich to give to wealthy and greedy governments will just make people more dependent.  It certainly would not help the poor and middle class, but it would narrow the gap.  What a great goal.

If the wealthiest 1% were always the same, that might be meaningful, but the richest 1% today are not the same as the richest 1% ten years ago – unless you are in communist and socialist countries, where they hold people down.

Obama and his like are economic dimwits who want to keep people dependent.  Why don't the articles mention that the 28% capital gains rate was reduced during Clinton instead of saying that it is the same rate as Reagan's?  They love to brag about how well the economy did during Clinton.  It was the Republicans' idea to lower the rate, and the economy, jobs, and government revenue grew rapidly after the tax cut, as they did after Bush's across-the-board tax cuts and when Reagan cut the top rate from 70% to 50% to 28%.

Federal government revenue is at a record high, and the solution is always to give them more.

The NYT published a press release from Oxfam claiming that the richest 1% control more than half the world's wealth.  I don't know if that's true, but if it is...who cares?

Even if it is true, where exactly is this money being held?

Investors with interests in finance, insurance and health saw the biggest windfalls, Oxfam said. Using data from Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires, it said those listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and health care industries saw their net worth jump by 47 percent.

Oh, they're being held in businesses.  Businesses, that, you know, employ thousands of people.  Businesses, such as insurance, that enable other businesses to function.  Businesses that produce products and services that millions of people want or need.

Did these richest of the rich forcibly take money from others?  Were people forced to hand over their money?  I don't think so.  I think people handed over their money voluntarily, and were even eager to do so, to get goods and services.

Where it becomes involuntary is when governments do it, through taxation and deficit spending.  People can choose to buy or not to buy products from a company, but they can't choose whether or not to pay taxes.  A rich person spending money can't impoverish people, but government spending can and does impoverish people.

Look at Greece.  The government spent much more money than it had, and the economy has basically collapsed.  And the rest of Europe isn't far behind.  Too much government spending has created record joblessness and poverty.

Spending by rich people and large companies, on the other hand, can increase both the concentration of wealth and the amount of it in everyone's hands.  Let's say a rich person puts up the money to open a restaurant.  He puts up the money and hires 10 employees.  If fantastically successful, he may keep 3 out of every ten dollars and pay the rest as salary to the ten employees and suppliers.  He keeps a disproportionate share of the profits, and he gets richer faster, relative to his employees, and yet his employees are also getting richer.  They may not get as rich as fast as their employer does, but they are getting richer, and without him, they wouldn't get any money at all.

That's why concentration of wealth is not incompatible with increasing wealth levels for everyone.  All that money that's being plowed into finance and insurance and health care is stimulating the economy.

Government spending, on the other hand, has a much lower multiplier effect than private spending, because much of government spending is simply redistribution that produces nothing, or pays for the salaries of bureaucrats, who also produce nothing.

So asking about concentration of wealth is the wrong question.  The right question is whether the bottom 50% is getting more money than it had before, irrespective of its comparison to the top 1%.  And if it's not, is it due to government policies?  You won't see any of these questions addressed in the Oxfam/NYT class struggle agitprop press release, though.

Please read the underlying article and let me know in the comments section if it is successful in making you feel like engaging in class struggle.

Pedro Gonzales is editor of Newsmachete.com, the conservative news site.

Update from Jack Hellner:

There is an easy solution to narrow the wealth gap.  Collapse the economy.

If real estate, the stock market, and corporations collapsed, that would rapidly narrow the gap.  Taking money from the rich to give to wealthy and greedy governments will just make people more dependent.  It certainly would not help the poor and middle class, but it would narrow the gap.  What a great goal.

If the wealthiest 1% were always the same, that might be meaningful, but the richest 1% today are not the same as the richest 1% ten years ago – unless you are in communist and socialist countries, where they hold people down.

Obama and his like are economic dimwits who want to keep people dependent.  Why don't the articles mention that the 28% capital gains rate was reduced during Clinton instead of saying that it is the same rate as Reagan's?  They love to brag about how well the economy did during Clinton.  It was the Republicans' idea to lower the rate, and the economy, jobs, and government revenue grew rapidly after the tax cut, as they did after Bush's across-the-board tax cuts and when Reagan cut the top rate from 70% to 50% to 28%.

Federal government revenue is at a record high, and the solution is always to give them more.