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THE 10 richest people on Earth have doubled their wealth during the pandemic — while 99 per cent of the human race has got poorer, Oxfam revealed in a devastating report today.
Labour leftwingers echoed the charity’s call for a wealth tax following the findings in the Inequality Kills study, which said 21,300 people die every day from inequality amounting to “economic violence.”
The grotesque fortunes of billionaire moguls including Amazon top dog Jeff Bezos and Tesla tycoon Elon Musk have grown more during the coronavirus crisis than in the previous 14 years, Oxfam said.
The top 10 plutocrats’ combined wealth has more than doubled from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion — an increase of $1.3bn a day or $15,000 a second. In the same period 160 million more people have been forced into poverty.
“If these 10 men were to lose 99.999 per cent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 per cent of all the people on this planet,” said Oxfam International’s executive director Gabriela Bucher.
“They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.
“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom.
“We need to claw back this incredible billionaire bonanza with new wealth and capital taxes. It is simple, common sense: tax the super-rich and spend the money on nurses, on hospitals and vaccines,” Ms Bucher said.
In the EU and Britain, the 107 richest people own more wealth than the bottom 179 million citizens, Oxfam adds.
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, who last autumn published The Nature of Wealth in Britain: How Wealth Wields Power and the Case for a Wealth Tax, told the Morning Star that the growth in wealth of the super-rich was directly linked to the falling incomes of the 99 per cent.
Through the pandemic a new billionaire was minted every 26 hours, while Inequality Kills calculates that inequality contributes to the death of a person every four seconds.
“This immoral situation must not continue. Tax wealth now!” Mr Trickett told the Morning Star.
And Leeds East MP Richard Burgon, the secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs who has submitted a private member’s Bill calling for a wealth tax to replace Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s looming National Insurance hike targeting ordinary people’s incomes, said inequality had reached “obscene” levels.
“The pandemic has not just highlighted the grotesque inequalities baked into our global economic system — it has made them much worse. While millions have really suffered during this pandemic, billionaires have increased their collective wealth by a sickening $5 trillion,” he said.
“Instead of taxes on working people, as we are seeing under the Tories, we need to step up the fight for a wealth tax on the billionaire class — starting with those who have made super-profits out of this crisis.”
Oxfam estimates that a one-off 99 per cent tax on the 10 richest men’s pandemic profits would raise enough cash to provide vaccines for everyone in the world, pay for universal healthcare, “fund climate adaptation and reduce gender-based violence in over 80 countries” and still leave them $8 billion richer than they were two years ago.
“Millions of people would still be alive today if they had had a vaccine — but they are dead, denied a chance while big pharmaceutical corporations continue to hold monopoly control of these technologies,” the charity warned, calling on this week’s World Economic Forum to study the report and for Britain and the European Union to drop their opposition to vaccine patent waivers.
This would allow poor nations to make their own jabs, rather than relying on donations from rich countries.
The findings came as think tank IPPR North’s study, also published today, said that regional inequality in Britain was widening despite the government’s “levelling up” rhetoric.
And they add pressure on ministers as ordinary people face soaring energy bills and attacks on working-class incomes through real-terms pay cuts and withdrawal of the universal credit uplift.
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