Monday 24 April 2017

Hard data shows 'great wealth divide' is not as big as you think

Full length of bodyguard helping elegant woman stepping out of car at airport terminal
Full length of bodyguard helping elegant woman stepping out of car at airport terminal
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

It is not the habit of this column to take issue with the work of other columnists. But sometimes exceptions have to be made. On Monday night a documentary, 'Ireland's Great Wealth Divide, by my colleague on these pages, David McWilliams, was broadcast on RTÉ 1.

It made a series of claims. Most generally, the show said that "we have moved from generous compassionate capitalism" to "a winner-takes-all capitalism". It stated that those at the bottom and in the middle are being deliberately excluded from doing better by those at the top and that "a massive transfer of wealth took place during the crash".

These are big claims. Before assessing them, consider perhaps the most curious aspect of the show: the evidence it used about wealth and the evidence it did not use.

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