Proposals in a recent Oxfam report, if implemented, would be a recipe for continuing impoverishment of the many.
The Oxfam report states that inequality is on the march, with about 50 per cent of total wealth owned by 1 per cent of the world's population, with the other half of total wealth owned for the remaining 99 per cent of the population.
In one particularly attention-grabbing headline, the ''Working For The Few'' report states that the world's 85 richest individuals own as much as the poorest half of the global population.
According to the NGO, ''The large and rising concentrations of income and wealth in many countries represent a global threat to stable, inclusive societies for one simple reason: the unbalanced distribution of wealth skews institutions and erodes the social contract between citizens and the state.''
In an unhampered, free-market economy, the distribution of income is wholly determined by the interplay of mutually beneficial market transactions between sellers and buyers.
Incomes are attained by selling goods and services to customers willing to pay for them, and suppliers who most closely meet the needs and desires of consumers are rewarded with revenues that more than cover production costs.
The resultant inequality, therefore, derives from the personal choices of the millions, or even billions, of participants in the market process.
But unless profitable suppliers can keep pleasing their customers by providing valuable goods and services, their ability to keep accumulating wealth is threatened.
Factoring in other issues, such as the attraction of additional suppliers towards profitable areas of economic activity, technological developments, and changing consumer preferences, it becomes clear that wealth holdings are precarious.
Needless to say, we don't interact in unhampered markets, with an alliance of big governments and crony capitalists littering the scene.
There are great risks that these players prevent others from breaking into the wealthy ranks, but in the real world the ranks of the wealthy can still significantly change within the space of a generation.
Only 25 of the 85 wealthiest people in the world in 2013 were among the 85 back in 1996, with 60 people (including Rupert Murdoch) dropping out of the list during that period.
Entering the list came the likes of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, the owners of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Nutella spread, Australian miner Gina Rinehart, and others.
Now, Oxfam does acknowledge that ''some economic inequality is essential to drive growth and progress, rewarding those with talent, hard earned skills and the ambition to innovate and take entrepreneurial risks''.
This is a reasonable point, but the report's subsequent focus on snapshots of the top 1 per cent overlooks the far more pressing issue about ensuring that more people, including the poor, can tap into opportunities for their own enrichment.
The Oxfam report oddly asserts that attitudes to the effect that it is better to focus on impoverishment, or absolute inequality, than relative inequality ''is no longer in fashion''.
This ignores the huge benefits arising from what has been described by some as the ''greatest and most remarkable achievement in human history'', and that is the precipitous decline in global poverty over the last few decades.
As recently discussed by American economist Mark Perry, about 5 per cent of the population lived on $US1 a day or less in 2006 compared with about 27 per cent in 1970, a massive decline in global poverty of 80 per cent.
Far from being a ''winner-takes-all'' system, the growing, but incomplete, embrace of market reforms, such as greater respect for private property rights, free trade and deregulation, has meant new opportunities for people to feed, clothe and house themselves and their families.
And that translates into real wealth gains for many people, in economic terms, which can only be a good thing.
So, what kinds of policy settings are needed to end impoverishment for many more people throughout the world?
Not high-taxing, big-spending and stringent regulatory policies, such as those advocated by Oxfam, that entrenches the cronies and excludes more people from economic participation.
Higher, and more progressive, income and wealth tax rate structures tend to discourage people from engaging in economic activities, including supplying labour where needed, that would otherwise propel them into higher income brackets.
And cracking down on tax havens poses a range of problems all of its own, including for low-income countries seeking to diversify their economic activities.
At the other end of the spectrum, mandated and rising ''living wages'' risks creating additional unemployment, as companies struggle to afford relatively more expensive labour services.
Education and health care are important, but high-cost, substandard services under monopoly government control are usually at odds with what poor people really need to meaningfully climb ladders of opportunity.
If we are genuinely concerned with ensuring that people escape the mire of poverty, then we would advocate policies ensuring that people cooperating in markets are less hampered in buying and selling between each other.
In short, what the world needs is a greatly reduced dose of government intervention, so that wealth becomes the rule rather than the exception.