_ A new report explains how inequality contributed to the death of
21,000 people each day of the pandemic while the wealthiest
collectively got $1.2 billion richer every 24 hours. _
Jeff Bezos caricature, ValueWalk (CC BY-SA 2.0)
OXFAM INTERNATIONAL'S LATEST REPORT on global inequality finds that
while the 10 richest individuals in the world more than doubled their
collective wealth since Covid-19 hit in 2020, the related result of
this billionaire surge has been a deadlier and more prolonged pandemic
for the rest of the world in which the incomes of 99 percent of
humanity fell, over 160 million people were forced into poverty, and
billions of the poorest were denied access to life-saving vaccines.
"The predictability of it is sickening. The consequences of it kill."
Entitled _INEQUALITY KILLS
the new report states that intense global inequality is "contributing
to the death of at least 21,000 people each day"—approximately one
person every four seconds—even as ultra-billionaires like Elon Musk,
Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerbeg, Warren Buffett, and a handful of others
grow richer and richer with each passing hour.
In total, using data from Forbes, Oxfam found that the 10 richest men
in the world saw their fortunes grow from an estimated $700 billion to
$1.5 trillion dollars, a rate of over $1.2 billion per day, since the
pandemic hit nearly two years ago.
"If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth
tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent 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."
The outrageous wealth of these billionaires is not simply benign
inequality, says the group. An economic system that allows a handful
of individuals to amass such vast fortunes while billions go hungry
and without proper medical care during a pandemic, according to Oxfam,
is an overt act of violence aimed at huge swaths of humanity.
"The coronavirus pandemic has been actively made deadlier, more
prolonged, and more damaging to livelihoods because of inequality,"
states Oxfam in their report. "Inequality of income is a stronger
indicator of whether you will die from Covid-19 than age. 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. This vaccine
apartheid is taking lives, and it is supercharging inequalities
As the overview of the report states:
The wealth of the world's 10 richest men has doubled since the
pandemic began. The incomes of 99% of humanity are worse off because
of Covid-19. Widening economic, gender, and racial inequalities—as
well as the inequality that exists between countries—are tearing our
world apart. This is not by chance, but choice: "economic violence" is
perpetrated when structural policy choices are made for the richest
and most powerful people. This causes direct harm to us all, and to
the poorest people, women and girls, and racialized groups most.
Inequality contributes to the death of at least one person every four
seconds. But we can radically redesign our economies to be centered on
equality. We can claw back extreme wealth through progressive
taxation; invest in powerful, proven inequality-busting public
measures; and boldly shift power in the economy and society. If we are
courageous, and listen to the movements demanding change, we can
create an economy in which nobody lives in poverty, nor with
unimaginable billionaire wealth—in which inequality no longer kills.
"Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic," lamented Bucher. "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. Vaccines were meant to end
this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and
monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people. The result is
that every kind of inequality imaginable risks rising. The
predictability of it is sickening. The consequences of it kill."
"Millions of people would still be alive today if they had had a
vaccine... This vaccine apartheid is taking lives, and it is
supercharging inequalities worldwide."
In response to the report, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday night
issued a simple prescription to combat the current reality.
"Tax the billionaires," said
[[link removed]] Sanders.
"Invest in the working class."
According to Oxfam, if just the top 10 billionaires alone paid a 99%
tax on their windfall profits generated during the pandemic, it be
enough to pay for "vaccines for every person in the world, universal
healthcare, and social protection."
Abigail Disney, Walt Disney's grand-niece and a member of the
U.S.-based Patriotic Millionaires, which advocates for higher taxes on
the rich, agreed with Sanders that the solution is clear.
"The answer to these complicated problems is ironically simple:
taxes," said Disney. "Mandatory, inescapable, ambitious tax reform on
an international level—this is the only way to fix what is broken."
"Without high-functioning governments actively using plentiful
resources to redress these injustices," she added, "we will head yet
further down the rabbit hole the wealthy class has dug for us all.
There is more than enough money to solve most of the world's problems.
It's just being held in the hands of millionaires and billionaires who
aren’t paying their fair share."
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