Half of the global workforce — 1.6 billion human beings — are in insecure work. Hundreds of millions have fallen into unemployment. And for the first time in 20 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 60 million, according to the World Bank.
Much of this is because COVID-19 has decimated demand, brutalised markets, and forced every country in the world to reckon with recession. And yet, while the World Health Organization has said the pandemic is “not even close to being over," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his fortune grow by $31 billion in 2020.
When the world is in crisis, the extremely wealthy tend to do quite well. But a group of the so-called “super-rich” want to use this privilege for public good — and have just urged governments to permanently increase taxes on them to better contribute to pandemic recovery.
The group of 83 affluent individuals, called "Millionaires for Humanity", are calling for a wealth tax to raise contributions from the super-rich: “Immediately. Substantially. Permanently”.
Its open letter, addressed to “fellow Global Citizens”, was signed by people including the heir to the Disney empire Abigail Disney; co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Jerry Greenfield; and Love Actually director Richard Curtis — who won the inaugural Global Citizen of the Year Award in a ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in Dec. 2019.
Our interconnectedness has never been more clear,” the letter states. “We must rebalance our world before it is too late. There will not be another chance to get this right.”
Today 83 millionaires from seven countries, the “Millionaires for Humanity”, released an open letter to governments, calling for a permanent tax increase on the very wealthiest to help pay for the global recovery from the #COVID19 crisis.— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) July 13, 2020
Please support→ https://t.co/ldYD8RjK8fpic.twitter.com/e06N4GQqQE
The letter has been timed to coincide with the G20’s finance ministers and central bank governors meeting — an event that could define the agenda for G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia this November, where the world’s most powerful leaders will gather to discuss, among other things, the future of the global economy after the pandemic.
It highlighted that the rich owed a huge debt to the key workers tackling the virus on the front lines, risking their lives everyday while being “grossly underpaid for the burden they carry.” Meanwhile, the signatories wrote that unlike tens of millions others, they do not have to worry about job insecurity, homelessness, or how to support their families.
“As COVID-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world,” the letter reads. “No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door.”
“But we do have money, lots of it,” it continues. “Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.”
JUST IN: A group of 83 millionaires, “Millionaires for Humanity” have released a letter asking governments for a PERMANENT tax increase on the wealthiest people in the world, to help economies recover from COVID-19.— Georgie (@georgiendirangu) July 13, 2020
Full letter + signatories here: https://t.co/BP9QVwyBkfpic.twitter.com/ym4glASxsS
According to the Guardian, more than 500,000 people globally are what is known as “ultra-wealthy” — meaning possessing a fortune that exceeds $30 million (£26.5 million). In 2020, another 31,000 people have joined that class. But although calls for a wealth tax have grown louder, especially in the US and the UK, the last few years have coincided with taxes on the rich falling.
Indeed, the 2,150 billionaires in the world possess more wealth than the planet’s poorest 4.6 billion people, according to anti-poverty charity Oxfam’s “Time to Care” report, published in January 2020.
“The problems caused by, and revealed by, COVID-19 can’t be solved with charity, no matter how generous,” the letter continues. “Government leaders must take the responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly. We can ensure we adequately fund our health systems, schools, and security through a permanent tax increase on the wealthiest people on the planet, people like us.”
“So please. Tax us,” it finishes. “Tax us. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice. Humanity is more important than our money.”