The Power of Myths

By John Millar

For those of us involved in advocacy and lobbying to reduce health and socioeconomic inequities, it is not unusual to be met with a couple of common responses:

  • There is no real poverty
  • Inequities are inevitable – they have always been with us and they are actually needed to motivate people to work and invest
  • We shouldn’t tax the rich because they are the job creators and the engines of economic growth


There are several reasons these myths persist:

  • To many wealthy people living in affluent neighbourhoods (or gated communities), there is little visible evidence of poverty and little or no contact with poor people
  • As a consequence, there is an ‘empathy gap’: the well-off simply don’t care. See Daniel Goleman – Rich People Just Care Less
  • Concerns that increasing taxes on the wealthy will reduce job creation and economic growth
  • There has been a successful misinformation campaign conducted by conservative think tanks funded by corporations and wealthy donors to convince the public that an agenda of lower taxes, smaller government and fewer public investments in social programs and infrastructure is necessary for economic growth; and through ‘trickle down’, poverty will be solved

This banned Ted Talk by billionaire Nick Hanauer helps to dispel some of these myths: