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Monday, January 23, 2017

Oxfam at it again

My interest was taken by a program on the TV the other evening. It was one of those programs I rarely watch which shows what happens when a company Boss goes under-cover as a worker in his/her own business. They can be quite interesting and informative but I have just so much time and many customers to serve. But this one was about the Oxfam CEO. In the UK.

Many, many people are touched by Oxfam's efforts. It is a 'good' and'moral' biz in many people's eyes.  We are mostly neighbourly folk who like to lend a hand and donate the odd fiver where we can.  Oxfam is a good instutution. 

But is it? I ask not as a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic that has not a kind bone in his body, but as a reasonable Knight and Crypt-floor-washer who sometimes has a fiver to spare.

It was interesting and informative and I did learn a little, so it was not a waste of time. I discovered that the nice, decent man, Mr Goldring had a heart and a modicum of business sense (although from which business guru I do not know as the jargon  and mantras are all the same). 

I also learned - as he did - that trying to get personal details of passers-by down on a form by a street collector is a hiding to nothing.  Someone may be happy to put a fiver in the tin but does not want to give name and address, email and phone details.

He didn't know that. It did show him why his collections are down.  

Hello.

He also learned that the fairly big (several hundreds of thousands of UK Pounds) little-boat-building exercise for people whose village livlihood had been washed away in a tsunami was a complete waste of those donors' fivers as the fleet of boats they were building on the Oxfam buck were too small and frail to reach the fishing grounds. 

Hello? 
He visted an 'Op Shop' where the "fabulous lady" (a rather well upholstered one) running it was better suited for another reality show - Horders. His efforts to 'dress the window' came under her withering gaze and pursed lipped critique. The place was a jumbled mess, and he promised to spend many fivers on refurbishing it. He didn't fire her, ala Donald in 'Apprentice', of course. 

Hello! 

A large scale something in the Philippines had him pretending to be a worker digging latrines and stirring something chemical, dusty and corrosive into the waste muck, without protection from the chemicals and in kit suitable for the arctic rather than the tropics. He gave the supervisot lady a free ticket to her Engineering exams. 

All very entertaining and illustrative. And a waste. Hey, look. Running a big biz is difficult and mistakes get made. He can be thankful that it is Other People's Money and does not come out of his very handsome salary.

People with lots of money - like Mr Goldring - can afford to be generous. So it was also illustrative to see Oxfam berating would-be possible, likely donors. Jeff Jackoby was having a pint and explaining.

The fabulous wealth of the 'Oxfam 8'
OXFAM GRABBED headlines on Monday with a report claiming that the world's eight richest men own as much wealth as the world's poorest 3.7 billion people — half of the planet's population.
The report was released in Davos, Switzerland, at the start of the World Economic Forum, an annual powwow of high-powered business and political leaders. The executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, {Paid in donated fivers. Many of them} seized the occasion to portray the gap between the world's superrich few and extremely poor many as a moral and social calamity.

"It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day," she said. "Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy." 

Oxfam's proposed solutions are the usual leftist nostrums: higher taxes, a "living wage" for employees, more government spending.


Headlines notwithstanding, Oxfam's "new" finding is the same-old, same-old it trots out every year. In 2014, Oxfam reported that the world's 85 richest people have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest; in 2015, it shaved the number of multibillionaires to 80; in 2016, the number dropped again, to 62. Now Oxfam claims the world's poorest half is out-owned by just eight men.
To be sure, it's a striking statistic. It's also irrelevant.

The eight superbillionaires singled out by Oxfam are Microsoft founder Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett, Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega, Amazon creator Jeff Bezos, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg, the financial-services entrepreneur and former New York mayor.
Besides being unimaginably rich, the eight men have a few things in common that ...

Oxfam doesn't dwell on.
To begin with, all eight men earned their extraordinary wealth. Through ingenuity, talent, and immense effort, 

they created enterprises that provide hundreds of millions, even billions, of human beings with goods and services that make life better, healthier, safer, and more affordable.
Moreover, the Oxfam Eight didn't grow their fortunes by preventing other people from growing theirs. Their wealth may equal that of half the people on Earth (though Oxfam's methodology is dubious), but the world's poor have been climbing out of poverty at the fastest rate in human history. 
Walk, sure, but gimme yer moolah

Byanyima rightly bewails the fact that "1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day" — what she omits is that over the past 30 years, the number of people living in such extreme poverty 

has fallen by nearly 75 percent. 

Johan Norberg, writing in Spiked Review, provides hard numbers: Worldwide, an average of 138,000 people climb out of extreme poverty every day. Since 1990, the world's population has grown by more than 2 billion, yet the ranks of those in extreme poverty has shrunk by more than 1.25 billion.
It is, in Norberg's words, "the most important story of our time: Poverty as we know it is disappearing from our planet."
Just as capitalism made it possible for Gates, Zuckerberg, and the others to reach the highest rung on the economic ladder, it is making it possible for billions of men and women to climb up from the lowest rung. Oxfam's billionaires are richer than they used to be. So is almost everyone else.
The populist left is forever railing against wealth and those who earn it. Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labor Party chief, last week suggested the imposition of a maximum-wage law that would put a ceiling on the amount of money Britons can earn. But tearing down the rich has never yet succeeded in raising up the poor.
Of course, the super-wealthy ought to share their great fortunes. Not because wealth disparities are "obscene," as Oxfam says. And not because the economy is a zero-sum game, with the rich getting richer only as the poor get poorer. But as a matter of goodness and gratitude — the timeless moral principle that from those to whom much is given, much is required.
Oxfam's megabillionaires agree. 

They have all given vast amounts to charity, using their wealth to do good for enormous numbers of people in need, in danger, or in pain. Gates has donated more to charitable causes than anyone, ever. Buffett and Zuckerberg have pledged to give away more than half of their wealth to philanthropy, as have scores of other billionaires.
Wealth is good, and the more people who can create and earn it, the better. All decent people should worry about what the very poor lack. 

If you obsess instead about what the very rich have, you're doing it wrong.
I was musing on this. There is such a lot of envy in the world and this Oxfam bleat is just that. It is also called Covetousness.  There is a Commandment about that.

The very first human beings, Adam and Eve (so we take as read) were Socialists. They committed more that simply one sin. Yes, disobedience was one but we often miss the other. They coveted. 

OK, the Devil had a part in it but one wonders how far the old snake would have got if Adam and Eve were not inclined to covet their neighbour's goods in fine socialist fashion (as it was to become).

Their (only) neighbor was far more generous than any Oxfam donor or CEO. My Supplier had given them the entire shebang; Gardens, animals, lakes, rivers, hills and dales and ten million fruit-bearing trees. 

He just kept One tree for Himself.

But they had to have that one too.

Don't be like Adam and Eve, eh?

Pax

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