A recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies found that while millions of Americans have joined the unemployment line, America’s super-rich elite has witnessed a great rise in their wealth these last three weeks. And this is despite the fact that the economy is expected to shrink by 40 percent in the following period.
It has also been noted that between 1980 and 2020, the tax obligations of America’s billionaires which can be measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased by 79 percent. As a result, in the last 30 years, U.S. billionaire’s wealth skyrocketed by 1100 percent, in contrast to the median household wealth which increased by only five percent. For the sake of comparison, if the total wealth owned by America’s super-rich in 1990 was $240 billion, today they own a fortune of $2.95 trillion.
Given these analyses, it is safe to conclude that America’s billionaires have acquired more wealth in just three weeks since the Coronavirus outbreak than their total wealth made prior to 1980. Which only leads to an even more disappointing conclusion. Three of America’s most wealthy individuals – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet – own the same wealth as half of the average American households combined.
Furthermore, the report also discusses the “wealth defense industry” – a new method that billionaires have started using in order to conceal their vast fortunes in tax havens and so-called charitable trusts. As a result, people have witnessed a decrease in living standards, crippled, dysfunctional social programs, and what’s even sadder a sustained drop in life expectancy.
The reality is not only disappointing, but it is also terrifying.
Billionaires don’t donate to help, they do it in order to generate maximum publicity for their actions. And the way they do it is usually by theatrically donating a tiny bit of what they used to give back in taxes. This way they maintain a positive image of themselves by keeping the most influential news organizations always informed. A December investigation by MintPress found that Gates had donated over $9 million to The Guardian, over $3 million to NBC Universal, over $4.5 million to NPR, $1 million to Al-Jazeera, and a staggering $49 million to the BBC’s Media Action program. Bezos, on the other hand, prefers to purchase the news organizations themselves.
What makes this whole story even more twisted is the fact that all of this is happening amid an unprecedented economic collapse. While billionaires are out there getting richer by the hour, 26.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the last five weeks. That number is not going down anytime soon. While the super-rich elite is enjoying their quarantine in their mansions and yachts, 49-62 million “essential workers” are forced to go to work and risk their lives and the lives of others to keep the society going. And perhaps the saddest, most devastating thing about all of this is knowing that most of these people earn less than the $600 weekly increase in unemployment benefits that the CARES act stipulates.
Most of these people have already fallen sick. Some have died.
One of the unfortunate cases is the mother of a 27-year-old Maryland worker who died of Covid 19. She buried her daughter and received her last paycheck. She had earned $20.64.
The truth is, there is a vast contrast in the impact that Covid 19 has had on the super-rich and the “mere mortals”. That only proves the theory that their wealth and the world’s poverty are two different sides of a single coin. They are interconnected. One cannot exist without the other. Or in much simpler words -The reason why people are still working full-time but cannot afford to live a decent life is the same reason why people like Bezos or Gates control the world’s wealth.