Of course, we know why Oxfam is whining about inequality these days. It turns out that market based capitalism – that neoliberalism when it goes global – is the way to reduce actual poverty. So, what’s an anti-poverty charity to do when the solution is so philosophically distasteful? As every Araminta and Tarquin knows, markets and capitalism just aren’t OK, right?
So, having run out of reasons why they must be anti-market and anti-capitalist if they are to oppose poverty it’s necessary to find some other reason to be anti-market and anti-capitalist.
Thus the new report. About which it’s possible to say a few things:
This inequality is the product of a flawed and exploitative economic system, which has its roots in neoliberal economics and the capture of politics by elites. It has exploited and exacerbated entrenched systems of inequality and oppression, namely patriarchy and structural racism, ingrained in white supremacy. These systems are the root causes of injustice and poverty. They generate huge profits accumulated in the hands of a White patriarchal elite by exploiting people living in poverty, women and racialized and historically marginalized and oppressed communities around the world.
Oxfam started out by actually feeding people. So recherche these days, eh? Folks might want to start thinking, reconsidering perhaps, whatever donations they make to Oxfam around now.
At the same time, the greatest economic shock since the Great Depression began to bite and the pandemic saw hundreds of millions of people lose their jobs and face destitution and hunger. This shock is set to reverse the decline in global poverty we have witnessed over the past two decades. It is estimated that the total number of people living in poverty could have increased by between 200 million35 and 500 million36 in 2020. The number of people living in poverty might not return even to its pre-crisis level for over a decade. The pandemic has exposed the fact that most people on Earth live just one pay check away from penury. They live on between $2 and $10 a day.37 They rent a couple of rooms for their family in a slum. Before the crisis hit they were just managing to get by, and starting to imagine a better future for their children. They are the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the market traders. They are the security guards, the cleaners, the cooks. They are the factory workers, the farmers. The coronavirus crisis has shown us that for most of humanity there has never been a permanent exit from poverty and insecurity. Instead, at best, there has been a temporary and deeply vulnerable reprieve.
Note what is actually being said there, rather than the emotional reaction they hope to engender.
So, that market, capitalist and neoliberal world pre-covid was making inroads into that historic poverty. The interruption of it has led to, or will lead to, a reversal of some of the gains.
That rather means we want to get back to that market and capitalist neoliberalism so we can continue to wear away at that poverty, doesn’t it?
While it is too soon to see the full picture, most initial studies point to a significant increase in inequality. The fact that the virus has had serious economic impacts on every country on Earth at the same time means it is likely that almost every country will see an increase in inequality, the first time since records began.
Again, note what that actually says. That the absence of that market, capitalist, neoliberalism increase inequality. So, we’d better have more of it to reduce the inequality then, shouldn’t we?
Governments must reject the old recipe of brutal and unsustainable austerity and must ensure peoples’ wealth, gender or race does not dictate their health or education. Instead, they must invest in free universal healthcare, education, care and other public services. Universal public services are the foundation of free and fair societies and have unparalleled power to reduce inequality. They close the gap between rich and poor,
Guess what? Oxfam’s measures of inequality do not include the effects of free and universal health care, education or other public services. The reason being that if they did then recorded inequality would be very much lower than Oxfam claims it is.
Inequality should be prevented from happening in the first place. To do this, businesses should be redesigned to prioritize society, rather than ever greater payouts to rich shareholders. Incomes should be guaranteed and maximum wages could be introduced. Billionaires are a sign of economic failure, and extreme wealth should be ended.
Well, yes, OK, we know how to do this. It does have the unfortunate side effect of leaving everyone equally poor but then that would give Oxfam an opportunity to return to its roots, wouldn’t it?
And this is just great:
Governments must also recognize, reduce and redistribute the underpaid and unpaid care work that is done predominantly by women and racialized women in particular.
Government must – must note – decide who comes and babysits the babbie. Because if they don’t then how can they redistribute that burden?
Those masochists interested can carry on reading the full report.
As so often happens Oxfam has now entirely been taken over by the loons. It really is time to defund it.