06 December 2006

One Percent Have 40% of the Wealth

I've been reading more anti-liberal stuff in the blogsphere and am thinking about writing some posts on "why I am a liberal" - both politcially and theologically.

Until I get around to it, what better apologetic for political liberalism than The Guardian's article:
World’s richest 1% own 40% of all wealth, UN report discovers

Unfortunately, I think it's too easy to read this article and think that it's talking only about multi-millionaires.

Perhaps the most important fact is buried in the seventh paragraph:

Half the world's adult population, however, owned barely 1% of global wealth. Near the bottom of the list were India, with per capita wealth of $1,100, and Indonesia with assets per head of $1,400.
Madsen Pirie, director of the conservative Adam Smith Institute, disagrees that the distribution of global wealth is unfair. He said:
"The implicit assumption behind this is that there is a supply of wealth in the world and some people have too much of that supply. In fact wealth is a dynamic, it is constantly created. We should not be asking who in the past has created wealth and how can we get it off them."
What Pirie says is true to some extent. However, it's disengenuous to suggest that less-developed countries stand on an equal footing with the developed countries in terms of their potential ability to create income and wealth.

Imagine two teams playing a game of "Monopoly" where there was one game but two sets of cards and two starting "banks". Group one starts with $10,000 and group two with $500. Group one's set of cards says things like "Collect $450 from other players every time you pass Go." Group two's set of cards says things like "Collect $10 from the bank every time you pass go." It doesn't take a genius to figure out who the cards are stacked against and who is going to become bankrupt.

The issue at hand is not about the fact that wealth can be created. It's about the fact that developing countries are not on an equal footing with respect to either monetary capital or industrial capital. The international economic system's rules are stacked in favour of those who have these things. Rather than seeing the weaknesses of the poor and responding with an offer to help level the playing field, the wealthy spot the weaknesses in the system and exploit them at the expense of less developed countries.

Any student of scripture would know what Jeremiah, Isaiah, Malachi, Amos, or a whole host of other prophets would have to say to that.

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