From Jay Richards.
The three richest people in the world control more wealth than all 600 million people living in the world’s poorest countries.
This is the mother of all gaps between rich and poor. If it upsets you, then it’s done its job. It’s designed to make you react, to feel morally indignant–but not to think.
Let’s do some thinking anway.
What’s the point of the comparison? Is it that some people have way to much money? Are we supposed to think that if Bill Gates weren’t so rich, the 600 million wouldn’t be so poor? Or worse: are we to suspect that Gates somehow extracted that wealth from the 600 million poorest people on the planet?
We should worry about absolute poverty in the world, especially if we’re in a position to do something about it. But worrying about gaps between different groups of people is not the same thing as worrying about absolute poverty. In fact, most such gaps are distractions. Complaints about gaps almost always reflect a basic confusion about the nature of wealth…
The verb betrays the bias. Why does it say that the three rich guys “control” wealth? Why doesn’t it say that they “own” or “earned” or “have created” wealth? Let’s try it: The three richest people in the world have created more wealth than all 600 million people living the world’s poorest countries. That certainly sounds different, doesn’t it?
Even if the gap between the rich and the poor grows over time, it doesn’t mean that the poor are getting poorer, because the total amount of wealth may have gone up…
We rightly see poverty as a problem, just as disease is a problem. But the problem isn’t that some people are rich and some are poor, any more than the problem of disease is that some people are healthy. The problem is quite simply that some are poor. If we want to bask in the wasteful heat of self-righteous moral indignation, then by all means, let’s keep blathering on about income gaps. But if we really want to help the poor, we need to get our eyes off decoys and focus on the real problem—poverty—and its only known solution: creating wealth.