According to Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley, there’s absolutely no problem with the rich getting richer at the expense of everyone else.
A NEW OXFAM REPORT, released ahead of the Davos Economic Forum, has revealed that richest 62 people on the planet now own as much wealth as half of the world's population. I've been at football matches at my local park where there have been more people.
It's the latest 'milestone' in the relentless accumulation of the world's wealth in fewer and fewer hands. In 2010, 368 people of these had the same wealth as the bottom 50% of the world’s population. So, since, 2010, 306 people have been bumped off the list.
Meanwhile the rest of us are heading to serfdom - or have already arrived.
It takes someone of unique intelligence and insight to rejoice in the new figures. Newstalk ZB's Rachel Smalley is one of those special people. Last seen complaining about a 'male dominated media' she thinks the fact that just 62 people own more wealth the fifty percent of the global population, isn't actually a sign of inequality. So its nothing to worry about. Nothing to see here, folks - move on.
My immediate reaction was to suspect that Rachel has been spending too much time in the company of another 'special person', namely her Newstalk ZB colleague Mike Hosking. Certainly this comment from Smalley could have come straight out of the mouth of Hosking:
"To envy their wealth or to try and reduce it or restrict the income of the super rich is not how you will lift the masses out of poverty.'
How did Smalley arrive at this startling conclusion? Here it is:
"I don’t think you should limit the wealth of the super rich and the entrepreneurs who have created industries, who've fuelled innovation and created hundreds of thousands of jobs – if not millions – and who've poured billions into the world's economies."
Smalley doesn't know her basic Marx. Surplus wealth is not created out of thin air by her 'super rich and entrepreneurs' but by the world's working class. That surplus value is expropriated by the capitalist class. And in the drive to accumulate more and more capital, vast poverty is created also.
That is the world today.
The solution can only be the replacement the capitalist mode of production through the expropriation of the owners of capital and the establishment of a planned economy based on common ownership.
Smalley, of course, would not agree to this. She prefers to defend the super rich. She wants us to know about all the 'good work' that they do. Like gods, they walk among us mere mortals, blessing us with their favours. We should be grateful! Smalley makes special mention of Bill Gates:
"Bill Gates is in the top 2 or 3 in terms of the world's wealthiest people -- and he’s committed two billion dollars to trying to rid the world of malaria. It's the single biggest killer in Africa and the most important issue facing not just sub-Saharan Africa but some 100 countries too. 3.2 billion people are at risk of contracting it."
Susan Rosenthal has written an excellent article on capitalist philanthropy, which I re-posted on this blog last year. She writes of Gates:
"In 2003, the world’s richest man went to Botswana to meet with some of the world’s poorest prostitutes to promote safe sex. The media praised Gates for his compassion. No one questioned why Gates’ fortune is four times larger than the entire GDP of Botswana. The $2 billion (USD) that the Gates Foundation distributes every year is a measly 2.5 percent of Gates’ fortune and provides him with hefty tax deductions."
She points out that the money doled out by the rich to philanthropic causes is dwarfed by the amount of money extracted by capitalism from poor countries:
"Every year corporations extract more than £616 billion from poor countries. An additional £411 billion is taken as debt payment. In total more than £1.37 trillion per year is siphoned from poor countries to rich ones."
In the end, the true philanthropist is the working class. Writes Rosenthal:
"The working class gives to the capitalist class in three ways: producing a surplus that is taken by the employers instead of being used to meet human needs; paying taxes that support the wealthy instead of meeting human needs; and donating to charity, so the rich and powerful do not have to pay for the misery they create. While workers give more to charities than corporations, our giving does not make life better. The more we give to charity, the more governments cut social services and transfer the money to businesses."