At this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, business and political leaders are buzzing afresh over income inequality. The WEF is emphasizing findings by the poverty-fighting group Oxfam that fewer than 100 billionaires now control as much wealth as half of the world’s population. A 2016 Oxfam research paper called the phenomenon “An Economy for the 1 Percent.”
Calling out high-income people and countries, the WEF echoes Oxfam’s premise that “the fight against poverty will not be won until the [income] inequality crisis is tackled.” One of the world trends, said the paper, is the increased share of profit going to capital owners versus those who labor to produce. So, the WEF preaches,“Reward hard work, not wealth” in a redesigned economy.
The WEF website says nothing of hard workers who reaped huge rewards and used them to bless millions, such as Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
The paper—along with a growing number of WEF luminaries—supposes a zero-sum economic fallacy: One person is poor because another is wealthy. But wealth is not finite, and if income goes up for some it must not necessarily go down for others.
Acton Institute senior editor Joe Carter wrote in 2014, “Most people (except perhaps committed Marxists) would admit that it would not be fair to pay everyone the same despite differences in such factors as experience, productivity, and work ethic. The existence of some income inequality is therefore a sign of a fair distribution of incomes.”
Besides income disparity, Oxfam attributed global inequality to billions stashed in tax havens, as though that money would otherwise be made available to the poor. Such an amount of money, claimed Oxfam, costs African governments $14 billion a year in uncollected tax revenues, which might cover healthcare for millions of children “and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.”
Rather than falling for the argument that inequality produces poverty, Carter advised followers of Christ to “champion economic policies and principles that are rooted in Biblical virtues and beneficial to the flourishing of our fellow man.” —Rob Holmes