The 10 richest men in the world doubled their fortunes during the pandemic, a new Oxfam report has found.
The report, titled ‘Inequality Kills’, found that the world’s 10 richest men increased their fortunes from USD$700 billion to $1.5 trillion during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s roughly a rate of USD$15,000 per second, or $1.3 billion a day since March 2020.
The report also noted that even if the men were to lose 99.999 per cent of their fortune, they would still be richer than 99 percent of the world’s population.
Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said the individuals “have now six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.”
Bucher stands by her organisation’s push for a one-off 99 percent windfall taxation of the billionaires’ incomes, which could generate a total of $812 billion.
“It has never been so important to start righting the violent wrongs of this obscene inequality by clawing back elites’ power and extreme wealth including through taxation – getting that money back into the real economy and to save lives,” Bucher told Business Today.
The world’s 10 richest men include Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Ballmer, Warren Buffet, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg.
The report also revealed that the conditions of the world’s poorest, along with their reduced incomes, has contributed to the deaths of 21,000 people each day.
This year’s financial gains made by the wealthiest marks the biggest annual increase in billionaire wealth since the report’s inception.
In Australia, our richest made AUD$205 million a day — business magnates including Gina Rinehart, James Packer and Frank Lowy now hold more wealth than the poorest 30 percent of Australians — roughly 7.7 million people.
Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Lyn Morgain believes that Australian billionaires have enjoyed a “terrific pandemic”.
“Central banks have 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,” she told Katherine Times.
Chairperson of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Jayati Ghosh told Business Today that the unequal access to income and opportunities during the pandemic did “more than create unjust, unhealthy and unhappy societies”.
She points to a lack of access to vaccines and essential healthcare facilities for the rise in inequality and deaths among the vulnerable and poor.
“And while they died, the richest people in the world got richer than ever and some of the largest companies made unprecedented profits,” she said.
The report concluded that “…based on conservative estimates, inequality contributes to the deaths of at least 21,300 people each day. Every four seconds, inequality contributes to the death of at least one person.”
The report also noted last year’s “vaccine apartheid” contributed largely to the discrepancies between the rich and poor, as many vaccines were kept behind private companies and low-and middle-income communities were denied access.
“2021 is defined above all by this shameful vaccine apartheid, a stain on the history of our species,” the report concludes. “This man-made catastrophe has taken the lives of millions people who could have been saved in countries with scant access to vaccines.”
“What makes this situation even harsher is that women in many countries face a second pandemic of increased gender-based violence- while, as with every crisis, having to absorb the shock of a mountain of unpaid care work that keeps them trapped at the bottom of the global economy.”
L.A based documentary filmmaker and activist Abigail E. Disney contributed her thoughts in the foreword to the report, saying that, “New billionaires were minted while the old billionaires added more and more billions to their stakes.”
“Businesses like Amazon, rather than feel shame, saw opportunity and doubled down on the strategies that had left 40 percent American workers unable to rely on even the smallest amount of savings to address the hunger, homelessness and poor healthcare that presented all the more immediate threats to them and their families,” she wrote.
Oxfam Great Britian’s Chief Executive, Danny Sriskandarajah, told Business Today that these latest figures is “off the scale.”
“There’s been a new billionaire almost every day during this pandemic. Meanwhile, 99 percent of the world’s population are worse off because of lockdowns, lower international trade, less international tourism, and as a result of that, 160 million more people have been pushed into poverty.”