Economy Jon Queally Pandemic

Billionaires ‘Had a Terrific Pandemic’ While Inequality Killed Millions: Oxfam

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

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

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. 

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.

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 worldwide.”

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.”

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 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.”

18 comments

  1. US, est. 10 million more left jobless, many with $0 incomes, 26 years into the Democrats’ war on the poor. There has been no Trump/Biden Covid response to the masses of US poor, homeless. Outraged liberals call for free college tuition.

  2. While taxing the rich would remove some of their excess buying power, taxing alone will not change the mindset of the governments which pander to them.
    According to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), several of the world’s monetary systems are based on a fiat currency (the UK, the US, Australia, and Japan, for example) which don’t use tax funds for the spending programs the governments have instituted. Those funds are created every time the government passes an appropriations bill.
    The governments of the UK and the US are gripped with a belief in neoliberal austerity, and it’s the austerity that kills. Both of these governments are directed by the billionaire class, which wants the money diverted to them, and not shared equally with others.
    In addition, the US has been trained since the McCarthy era of the 1950s to fear “socialism,” and that fear can be invoked every time a move towards more equitable distribution of the available resources is suggested.
    A change in mental attitude will have to be brought about, and how that’s going to be done without a major rising of the people, I don’t know.
    Watch How to Start a Revolution DVD documentary and read From Dictatorship to Democracy the book. And learn MMT!

  3. Socialist propaganda that confuses the creation of wealth with a problem that is actually caused by inflationary debt. Leveling the playing field has far more to do with utilizing market based debt-free money than it does with punishing or demonizing those that raise the level or wealth creation.

    We need some “monetary Yang” with our “monetary Yin” where the real evil rests in the imbalance.

  4. Well, very modulated discourse here, and we tire of this fake balance, fake neutrality.

    These are criminals, and for you to use that image of Bezos, where he looks businessman like, that is suspect. Surf the internet for images of his real monster-like face. There are many.

    Grand theft auto, for the average person, is usually a high speed chase by cops that most assuredly ends in massive injuries at least, but mostly in death by cop. Can you imagine the same sort of dealings with these grand thieves of our times? These tax dodgers, people abusers, city hostage takers, environmental dirt bags?

    I met that Bezos with a group of clerdy, activists and my own union brothers and sisters, SEIU. Shareholders meeting in Seattle. I asked him a question, and pushed back. He is vacant really of the full suite of emotions and empathy we might expect in people like him who has it all, who has gained billions on the backs of workers and inovators, whose wealth accumulates and builds vis-a-vis the scams and wealth building unethical legislation and finance laws that make capitalism an inflammatory disease for us, the 80 Percent.

    The union brothers and sisters, and clergy, we were escorted out of the shareholder meeting (we all had one share of that dirty company, Amazon) by the hired on Seattle Police Department. SOme of us were cited with disorderly conduct charges based on standing up and speaking, and in several cases, standing up and singing religious hymns.

    Please get off the fake balance and objectivity that reeks in this piece. Have some Gonzo fun with these people who are criminals. They are for sure thugs. I can name 3,700 of them who are billionaires. Continual criminal enterprises, all and one.

    Talk about confessons of an economic hitman. These people in 2022 control everything, even the junk entertainment on all the pay for nothing channels. They own the press, own the networks, and own the narratives in so many arenas where their money buys off minds in a grand Faustian Bargain display of sad human perversion.

    1. more lizard psychopath empty of all human emotion except greed than cartoon villain.

    2. I was just thinking that the other day: our billionaire overlords are increasingly like Bond villains, with their personal armies, floating fortresses and private islands — except none of them have the charisma, grandeur and sophistication of, say, Hugo Drax (the movie version). They’re simply scum.

  5. Word is that the poor will always be with us.
    Presuming that this comes from an omniscient God, I can only suppose that it was a trap. Allow (shit, outright encourage) money (those possessed of it) to displace humanity and it will be cast into eternal fire. Where it belongs.
    Yet in Revelations the two of the seven churches that got God’s approval (the rest no longer had their original what, purity or enthusiasm) suffered poverty or persecution.
    And to a fair degree, maybe with a little imagination, suffering can be construed as ennobling. But abject poverty and relentless, ongoing misery must, at some point, deliver diminishing and then negative returns – death or a living Hell. To what end?

    The piece missed an additional culpability – the pandemic, by definition, is global. Economic globalization delivered the plague, and nursed and fed it. And jet-setters, while not billionaires, maybe not millionaires, flew about, contracting the virus there and liberally spreading it around here and everywhere.
    So then, of course, severe disease and death trickles down to be borne by the old, frail, poor and not-white. Just so happens… as is always the case.

    In “The Order Of Things” Michel Foucault relates that from the 18th century to the 19th (and to this day, it seems) it was cant: invest in land, improvements and increased production, but retain labor at the level of raw subsistence.
    A week or two ago was an article in the news countering the idea that society was dead – a statement / wish expressed by Maggie Thatcher (Reagan peer). The article was weak and unconvincing. Look at your TV – you tube replays of the Rachel Maddow show run 37 minutes… but she occupies an hour.
    37/60=.61666
    Almost two-fifths of her time is ads. Shit! Then look to the content of the ads, and ask, “Is this plug of interest to me, is the product within my means?” For me the answer is great majority “No.” What can I do but judge myself to be excluded from society (though to be fair, I’ve pretty much turned my back on it)?
    And how can it be claimed that society is alive, though perhaps not well, when the family is in the same measure chimeral? Daycare and pre-school is to children what work is to their parents – where most of their waking hours are spent and where there is no love, no interest in the child / employee. It’s a business. And parenting is ’bout dead… who has time for it?
    Meanwhile, there’s a space race… not the one involving us, Russia and China, but the one between billionaires… pushed in the news, and enjoyed by the better half of us. Again, Shit!
    One more word for the pandemic: the world’s and America’s handling of it seems to have extended its life. Maybe Trump was right: “Let it run through the country, and burn itself out (at whatever cost).” But Trump was maybe right because he made himself right.
    I’m trying to show we’re in a mindless ideological rut, a hole, quicksand. Slowly sinking. Again, I cannot imagine anything other than a devastating end. The system is just too heavily (totally all in) invested in what is.

    1. This is a pet peeve of mine: that Bible book you refer is to called Revelation, singular, not RevelationS.

    1. No amount of brown sauce could make the flesh of Bezos, Fuckerberg or that leathery ghoul Gates palatable to me.

  6. the planned hysteria was aided and abetted by the most fascist freedom despising elements–the tyrannical utilitarian immoral libs

  7. This boilerplate criticism from the fake left of how elites have made out like bandits during the ‘pandemic’ is nothing more than manufactured dissent for consent to the lies of the biosecurity state which has now emerged as the new (ab)normal world order of global capitalism.

    There is no pandemic, only a plandemic to radically reshape the conditions of human servitude to the “masters of mankind” (Adam Smith) by means of totalitarian panic porn, propaganda, and repression to lead the “bewildered herd” (Walter Lippmann) into eugenicist final solutions for mass depopulation and biodigital slavery.

    Within the terms of ruling class ideology and psychopathy, inequality, like the proverbial poor, has always been with us. For the powers that shouldn’t be it’s just the way things are, and we the people are all the poorer for believing at any time, and now more than ever, that inequality is anything but a euphemism for institutionalized violence on a genocidal scale.

    The disaster capitalism deliberately imposed upon national populations of the world with the covid coup is not only the biggest theft of the public commons by elites, but with the ‘solution’ of bioweaponized ‘vaccines’ to the manufactured problem of the pandemic also threatens to be the biggest depopulation program of human history, with now approximately 4 billion people injected with these poisons.

    We should not let ruling psychopaths make out like bandits, or get away with mass murder, either. The time is long past when we should behave like dogs waiting for crumbs to fall from the masters’ tables in the form of taxes (that they rarely pay anyway). Now is the time to revolt and bring these criminals against humanity to justice for the evil they have done. (See, for instance, Reiner Fuellmich’s Corona Investigative Committee’s Nuremberg 2.0 case about to be brought before the International Criminal Court.)

  8. If it looks like trouble and it smells like trouble, you can bet there’s trouble afoot.

    Unfortunately, the government has fully succeeded in recalibrating our general distaste for anything that smacks too overtly of tyranny.

    After all, like the proverbial boiling frogs, the government has been gradually acclimating us to the specter of a police state for years now: Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality.

    This is how you prepare a populace to accept a police state willingly, even gratefully.

      1. If the populace keeps defying economic law, they can only suffer.
        The choice to follow it by trading with the use of debt is unimpeded by government.

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