Davos, 25 May 2022 (TDI): Oxfam announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos that the pandemic had produced a new billionaire every 30 hours. However, this might force almost a million people into poverty by 2022 at a similar rate.
Despite the fact that inflation is widespread, millionaires in the food and energy industries are making $1 billion every two days. “Profiting from Pain” is published by the World Economic Forum. This is Davos’ special gathering of the world’s elite.
Another WEF meeting at Davos, another reason to stop the billionaire bonanza. SO – @Oxfam finds that for every new billionaire created during the pandemic — one every 30 hours — nearly a million people could be pushed into extreme poverty in 2022 at nearly the same rate. 1/4
— Dana Abed (@danaabed_) May 23, 2022
It is the first face-to-face meeting since COVID-19. This is the period during which billionaires have seen a significant increase in their wealth. According to Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International, billionaires are arriving at Davos.
They have come to celebrate a notable turn of events in their lives. The epidemic and sharp increases in food and energy prices have been a benefit to them. People are facing deep increases in the expenses of daily living.
This is due to decades of progress in reducing extreme poverty now being reversed. According to the brief, 573 new billionaires were created during the pandemic. It happens once every 30 hours on average.
This year, 263 million more individuals are expected to fall into extreme poverty. According to the report, a million people will be killed every 33 hours.
The wealth of billionaires has increased more in the first 24 months of COVID-19 than in the previous 23 years combined. The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires now accounts for 13.9% of global GDP.
This signifies a threefold increase over 2000 (4.4 percent). Billionaires have increased their wealth not because they are now smarter or working more, according to Oxfam’s Executive Director.
Workers have had to work longer hours, for less money, and in less favorable conditions. For decades, the super-rich has rigged the system with impunity. They are now reaping the benefits. They have combined an incredible amount of riches all over the world.
Privatization and monopolies are to blame for this. While hiding their money in tax havens, they have undermined regulation and employees’ rights. As Gabriela Bucher mentioned, this is all done with the help of governments.
Profiting from Pain
Furthermore, Oxfam’s Executive Director stated, “Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heating, falling behind on bills, and wondering what they can possibly do next to survive.
Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity. It is divisive, corrosive, and dangerous. This is inequality that literally kills.”
According to Oxfam’s latest research, monopolies are common in industries such as energy, food, and pharmaceuticals. They are making record profits despite static wages and workers dealing with decades-high COVID-19 costs.
In the last two years, the fortunes of food and energy billionaires have increased by $453 billion. Every two days, this amounts to $1 billion. Every second, five of the world’s largest energy businesses profit by $2,600.
BP, Shell, Total Energies, ExxonMobil, and Chevron are among these energy firms. As a result, 62 new food billionaires have emerged. The Cargill family controls 70% of the global agricultural market with just three other corporations.
Cargill created the largest profit in its history last year, with a net income of $5 billion. In 2022, the corporation is likely to break its previous earnings record once more. There are now 12 billionaires in the Cargill family, up from eight before the pandemic.
Record-high global food prices are causing social and political unrest from Sri Lanka to Sudan. 60% of low-income countries are on the edge of failing to pay their debt. Prices have risen in a cycle with rising inflation.
Price increases are especially harmful to low-wage employees, whose health and livelihoods were already threatened by COVID-19. Women, people of color, and others who are sidelined are disproportionately affected.
People in developing countries spend more than twice as much of their income on food as people in developed countries. The number of billionaires is now 2,668. There are 573 people who own $12.7 trillion, up to $3.78 trillion from 2020.
Oxfam Research Findings
The richest ten people on the planet own more money than the bottom 40% of humanity or 3.1 billion people. The wealth of the top 20 billionaires exceeds the whole GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa.
To earn what a person in the top 1% earns in a single year, a worker in the bottom 50% would have to work for 112 years. This is due to a high level of informality and caregiver overload in Latin America and the Caribbean.
4 million women have been kept out of the workforce. In the United States, half of working women of color earn less than $15 per hour. The epidemic has resulted in the creation of 40 new pharmaceutical millionaires.
Pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna and Pfizer profit by $1,000 every second. They are making money just because of their control of the COVID-19 vaccination. This is due to the fact that billions of dollars have been invested in its development.
Governments are being charged up to 24 times the potential cost of generic manufacturing. In low-income countries, 87 percent of people have not received adequate immunization.
“The extremely rich and powerful are profiting from pain and suffering. This is unconscionable. Some have grown rich by denying billions of people access to vaccines, others by exploiting rising food and energy prices.
They are paying out massive bonuses and dividends while paying as little tax as possible. “This rising wealth and poverty are two sides of the same coin, proof that our economic system is functioning exactly how the rich and powerful designed it to do,” said Oxfam’s Executive Director.
“Over two years since the pandemic began, after more than 20 million estimated deaths from COVID-19 and widespread economic destruction, government leaders in Davos face a choice: act as proxies for the billionaire class who plunder their economies, or take bold steps to act in the interests of their great majorities.
One common economic sense measure above all will put this to the test: whether governments will finally tax billionaire wealth”.
Oxfam Recommendations to Governments
Governments must introduce one-off solidarity taxes on billionaires’ pandemic windfalls. This will fund support for people facing rising food and energy costs and fair and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.
Argentina adopted a one-off special levy dubbed the ‘millionaire’s tax’. It is now considering introducing a windfall tax on energy profits. It is also considering introducing a tax on undeclared assets held overseas to repay IMF debt. The super-rich has stashed nearly $8 trillion in tax havens.
End crisis profiteering by introducing a temporary excess profit tax of 90 percent. This will capture the windfall profits of big corporations across all industries.
Oxfam estimated that such a tax on just 32 super-profitable multinational companies could have generated $104 billion in revenue in 2020.
Introducing permanent wealth taxes to rein in extreme wealth and monopoly power and also outsized carbon emissions of the super-rich will help.
An annual wealth tax on millionaires starting at just 2 percent, and 5 percent on billionaires, could generate $2.52 trillion a year.
This is enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty and make enough vaccines for the world. This will deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower-middle-income countries.