Oxfam vs the rich – Counterpoints

Published on January 19, 2023


It has been a long time since anyone heard of Oxfam.

The British NGO is just emerging from a series of scandals that have dealt a major blow to its credibility, but the renewed mobilization over pension reform has provided a great opportunity for it to try to get people talking about it. As usual, Oxfam will be putting its foot down, claiming that “a 2% tax on the wealth of French billionaires would fund the supposedly out-of-control pension deficit”.

Oxfam could not miss such an opportunity to come up with a big piece of nonsense.

Because, of course, its solution leads nowhere and is based on miscalculations and a complete misunderstanding of economic mechanisms.

The wealth of “billionaires”: this formula has no meaning other than the concept of a billionaire. If we count only the money in the bank in the current account and the bills and coins in the pockets, there are no billionaires. No one has more than a billion euros in their bank account. At best, some people may own stocks of companies that have such an amount in cash.

Wealth for Anti-Capitalists

To quench the thirst of jealousy and dress the straw man, Oxfam and a whole bunch of so-called “economists” with it have set up their calculations.

Apparently, the popular “capital” has been defined since Karl Marx by the following convoluted formula: capital is the sum of money used to acquire equipment, goods and services (raw materials, manufactured goods, energy, etc.) necessary for production. .), is added to the amount of money used to pay workers while they wait for the products they produce to be sold and make a profit.

But since this definition of capital is too complicated and leads to too low an amount (because it is actually the amount of working capital needed to carry out economic activity by paying wages to suppliers and workers), “Economists” simply expanded this definition from the concept of capital to the concept of property.

When Marx’s definition compared two different streams: those fed by sales and those fed by wages, “economists” began to compare bananas and turnips. Without carrots and turnips? Or bananas and carrots? No one really knows, and if you notice, we always talk about wealth estimation when we try to describe the wealth of “billionaires”.

Guess what, because on closer inspection it doesn’t make any sense. What is the “wealth” of Bernard Arnault, Bill Gates or Elon Musk? Basically, they are stock portfolios whose value is estimated by multiplying a number by a unit value.

We can compare this wealth with your great-grandmother’s Chinese vase, which you put up for sale on an online sales site for 1000 euros 3 years ago and never found a buyer. If we follow Oxfam’s logic, you should be taxed at 2% on this €1,000 that you don’t have.

It should be noted that if we use Marx’s definition, this also makes no sense. Tax capital means taking money from working capital that is used to pay suppliers and employees. Therefore, we immediately understand what happens: a decrease in activity and a decrease in unemployment, because then there is not enough money to carry out the activity. Moreover, Marx believed that capitalism could only be overthrown through revolution, and that attempts to regulate the system would only result in increased misery for the proletarians. This is one of the few points we can agree with him on.

The cost of immorality has risen

Economic absurdity aside, the most serious issues in spreading ideas like Oxfam’s are moral. Such claims create social hatred and encourage crime.

Using force to get help from a neighbor is called theft or robbery. It makes no difference whether the power used is legal, democratic or supposedly justified.

It is both immoral and completely false to think that the rich are others. We are always someone else’s asset. Incidentally, this is also deeply grounded thinking in terms of supremacist fundamentalism seen from the perspective of inferiority in the most disgusting sense.

In the long run, this kind of tolerance always results in a terrible miscalculation. As soon as we turn a blind eye to the troubles we cause others, there comes a time when we are always caught up in our own game, be it for our benefit or not.

There always comes a time when you find yourself on the other side of the thread. The golden rule (do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you) is not an illusory dogma made up just to piss you off. This is both an empirical and a logical rule.

As soon as we abolish moral justice for the sake of another moral justice, as in the present case, by forcibly taking money from some and giving it to others, we thereby abolish the logic of all reasoning: it no longer has any basis. to objectively judge whether the transaction as a whole is fair.

In other words: if you admit that a person can commit immoral acts, then you are completely illegitimate to judge, your ability to judge is no longer worth anything. A judge can’t be a criminal when it suits him.

There is no way to magically turn something unfair into something fair. The end never justifies the means. Never.

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