‘Inequality kills’

Written by The Frontier Post

Dmitry Ermakov

As the world battles an economic recession, internet ent-repreneurs, fashion executives and oil company shareholders are earning twice as much as they us-ed to. Even if they spend a billion a day, it will take them years to empty their accounts. Meanwhile, tens of millions of people have fallen below the poverty line and cannot afford a vaccine. About who and why multiply the fortune – in the material of RIA Novosti.
More likely to die
The double growth of the capital of the largest businessmen is reported by the report of the international confederation of charitable organizations Oxfam, published annually on the eve of the Davos Economic Forum. Catchy headlines have become his hallmark. The current one is “Inequality kills”.
The list of billionaires was taken from Forbes. The richest people in the world are Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX), Bernard Arnault (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Meta, Facebook), investor Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison (Oracle ), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), Mukesh Ambani (oil company Reliance Industries).
Their combined capital during the pandemic rose from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion. This is more than in the previous 12 years after the 2008 global financial crisis. The current recession, according to analysts, the worst since the Wall Street stock market crash in 1929, did not interfere.
Every day since the beginning of the epidemic, a new billionaire has appeared in the world, according to Oxfam, but more than 160 million people in the same period have joined those who survive below the poverty line. In third world countries, this is one fifth of the population.
Such inequality can be called “economic violen-ce”. The Oxfam report is s-hocking: about 20,000 people die every day from ha-rsh living conditions. They simply do not have access to medical care, they starve, become victims of crime. Philanthropists indirectly blame billionaires for this.
But there is a way out. The authors of the study call for tax reforms to fund healthcare, primarily for the production of vaccines. This industry is controlled by large pharmaceutical corporations, and in Oxfam this situation is considered “apartheid”. Jeff Bezos’ pandemic capital gains alone could pay for vaccines for all of humanity.
“The poorest in some countries are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the richest. During the second wave of the pandemic, a Bangladeshi was five times more likely to die than a white Briton,” the document notes.
Money on the needle
All these tycoons don’t make money from vaccines. At least, there is no such information in open sources.
In the past year, Musk and Bezos came out on top in terms of wealth. The winner was the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, who raised his capital by a record $25 billion in one day in March. New Street Research analysts helped by raising the recommendation for Tesla shares to “buy”. In the space race, Bezos is still inferior: key contracts go mainly to SpaceX, not Blue Origin. But Amazon is growing – the pandemic has clearly played along with online sales.
It is the owners of large corporations who receive the main benefit from state financing of the economy in the context of the coronacrisis.
Of course, they also make money on vaccines. In 2020, the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies Moderna and BioNTech made it to Forbes’ list of fifty new healthcare billionaires. In the spring of 2021, The People’s Vaccine Alliance indicated in a report that nine billionaires were born thanks to the proceeds of anti-vaccination vaccines.
Among them are four representatives of Moderna, including CEO Stefan Bansel, head of BioNTech Ugur Sahin, CEO of Spanish ROVI Juan Lopez-Belmonte and co-founders of China’s CanSino Biologics. Yuan Liping, the owner of a 24 percent stake in Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, can join them.
And, most likely, this is just the beginning. According to Research & Markets, the market for biotechnologies related to the treatment of COVID-19 will increase by 18-25 percent by 2026. Obviously, investors will not miss this.
It turns out that all production will still remain in the hands of a few players. That is why WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières are pushing for the abolition of coronavirus vaccine patents.
Corporate power
In October, a bill appeared in the United States to increase the tax on corporations that earned more than a billion. According to the calculations of the well-known economist Gabriel Zucman, author of studies on offshore zones and tax evasion, this law will bring a tangible increase to the budget. In particular, Elon Musk in the next five years could pay the state 50 billion, and Jeff Bezos – 44.
Many Americans supported this initiative. “When we see billionaires flying into space for fun, and the country can’t handle floods, that’s a problem,” said economist Darrick Hamilton.
But even if the law is passed, and this does not happen quickly in the United States, it is unlikely to immediately work in full force. The media is confident that billionaires will evade taxes by transferring assets to more opaque forms, such as private companies. And business holdings like Musk’s SpaceX or Bezos’ Blue Origin simply don’t fall under this law.
Supporters of tax reforms, primarily Senator Ron Wyden, propose to fine large shareholders for transferring assets to non-public ones, but such mechanisms are not provided for in US law.
Therefore, nothing changes, although in social networks, billionaires have to fend off the attacks of politicians. So, in December, Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the authors of the new bill, accused Elon Musk of tax evasion. She urged on Twitter: “Let’s overhaul the rigged tax code so that the richest person of the year is no longer a freeloader.” Musk responded in the same place, indicating that he would pay more in a year to the budget than any other person in US history: no less than 11 billion. However, it is not yet known whether he paid.

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