Millions of people are recently unemployed in the U.S. alone and another 1.6 billion people across the globe are at risk of losing their livelihoods. The number of those who are living in deep poverty could rise to more than 60 million, the World Bank reports. There is little doubt most of this is due to COVID-19 destroying markets and product demand, placing every country in dangerous territory for a recession. To make the world’s financial state even worse, the World Health Organization said the pandemic is “not even close to being over.” We are left to speculate on the implications when people like Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, have seen their fortunes grow by $31 billion since the start of 2020.
Dozens of High-Net-Worth Individuals Want to Increase Taxes
It is commonly known that when there is a world crisis, the rich tend to do just fine. But for the first time, a group of “super-rich” would like to use their privilege to offer some good. They have stepped forward and urged governments to increase taxes on the wealthy permanently to contribute to the recovery from the pandemic.
The group, “Millionaires for Humanity,” consists of 83 very wealthy individuals calling for contributions through wealth tax on the super-rich, “Substantially. Immediately. Permanently.” They composed an open letter addressing their “fellow Global Citizens.” The signatures include Abigail Disney, heir to Disney; Djaffar Shalchi, a Danish-Iranian entrepreneur; Richard Curtis, director of “Love Actually”; and Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Notably, Curtis is already known for looking out for others, having won the Global Citizen of the Year Award back in December of 2019.
The Contents of the Open Letter
The letter states, “Our interconnectedness has never been more clear. We must rebalance the world before it is too late. There will not be another chance to get this right.”
This letter is timed to coincide with the EU Central Bank governors’ and G20’s finance ministers’ meetings. These events could define this November’s G20 summit in Saudi Arabia. This is where discussions on the pandemic and future global economy will take place among the world’s most powerful leaders. Plans will be discussed, and decisions will be made, so the opportunity for change is there. The timing of the letter comes with the hope that it will allow for more discussions and faster decisions made on the funds and the finer details.
The entire project was co-organized by Tax Justice UK, Oxfam International, Bridging Ventures, Human Act, Club of Rome, and Patriotic Millionaires.
The letter notes there is a large debt owed by the rich to essential workers on the front line dealing with the virus and risking their lives daily. It also states that these workers are being “grossly underpaid for the burden they carry.” The signatories also said they don’t have to worry about supporting their families, becoming homeless, or having job security, unlike tens of millions of other people, putting them in a position to help.
The Hope of the Letter
According to the letter in question, the signatories feel that a permanent tax increase on themselves and the rest of the wealthiest people in the world could provide the financial means to rebuild security, schools, and health systems around the world.
The letter warns that this is particularly important given that millions “will lose their jobs as businesses close, some permanently.” The letter writers hope that government leaders will take responsibility to raise funds, partly by increasing the taxes on the wealthiest people.
The letter includes some very strong phrasing, including repeated calls to “tax us” and the point that “humanity is more important than our money.”
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