Tim Cohen Senior editor: Business Day

Every year like clockwork, just before the Davos meeting of the global elite, British charity group Oxfam publishes an astounding statistic that is designed to shock the world and instantly goes viral. This year it was that 2,200 billionaires worldwide saw their wealth grow by 12% in 2018 even as the poorest half of the population saw their wealth fall by 11%. In 2018, it was that the 26 richest people on earth had the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, about 3.8-billion people. These statistics send me screaming up the wall because not only are they grotesquely wrong and ridiculously formulated, but they also trivialise a much more important debate about inequality and how to fix it. Let’s start with why they are wrong. Oxfam’s basic philosophy is rooted in the old Marxist notion that capitalist society is caught in a structural contradiction that results in the rich getting richer as the poor get poorer. This inevitably results in a socialist revolution,...

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