We don't understand why Oxfam is so concerned about US University debt

It’s the time of the year again when Oxfam sends out a reminder that the poorest in the world are actually doing better than ever before, but spun in such a way that suggests the world is in crisis. Head of Research, Matthew Lesh, has gone through the report and calls out its failings:

“Oxfam’s report is complete hogwash. It’s simply not true that the poor are worse off just because the rich have gotten richer, everyone can get richer at the same time. Oxfam doesn’t care about the poor, they just hate the rich. Oxfam should stop playing the politics of envy and start talking about how free markets, free trade and liberal institutions are the most effective poverty alleviation tool known to humankind. 

“Just because some people have gotten richer does not mean that the poor have gotten poorer. In fact, over last thirty years more than a billion people have pulled themselves out of poverty thanks to the adoption of freer markets and freer trade.

“Oxfam’s inequality claims are built on a methodology that would fail a first year statistics course. There is no crisis of inequality. In fact, particularly because of the rise of China and the developing world, global inequality is already declining for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. 

“According Oxfam’s methodology, which focuses on wealth and not income, a recent Harvard law graduate, with US$130,000 debt, has net negative wealth and is, therefore, poorer than a farmer in a developing country. The problem with American student loans is well known, but it’s not clear that it’s an issue that should worry Oxfam.”

For further comment, or to arrange an interview, please contact Matt Kilcoyne (via email: matt@adamsmith.org; or phone 07584778207 or 02072224995).