GLOBAL MILLIONAIRES DEMAND DAVOS ATTENDEES TAX THE RICH
Over 150 wealthy signatories of ‘In Tax We Trust’ letter call on Davos elites to step out of their private gatherings and address global inequality
Their message comes alongside new data showing that a tax on the pandemic profits of food/agriculture billionaires alone could end world hunger
Davos, Switzerland – On the third day of the Davos conference, as attendees gather to discuss a reimagined global tax system and financial inclusion, a group of over 150 millionaires released a grave letter challenging attendees of the World Economic Forum to step out of their elite bubbles, acknowledge the danger of unchecked wealth inequality around the world, and publicly support efforts to tax the rich.
This letter, updated from an earlier campaign centered around January’s “Virtual Davos” conference, was re-released with dozens of new high-net-worth signers, including actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, joining earlier supporters of the In Tax We Trust movement like Abigail Disney, Morris Pearl, and Nick Hanauer.
The letter comes in the midst of a week of protest which saw millionaires deliver the ‘In Tax We Trust’ letter directly to WEF offices in New York and Geneva, and attend pro-taxation demonstrations at the outskirts of the elite compound in Davos itself (see photos here).
As billionaire wealth skyrockets, hundreds of millions of people around the world slide further into poverty. New data from an Oxfam report released on Monday indicates that the wealth of billionaires in the food and agriculture industry increased by $382 billion during the pandemic alone. An emergency windfall tax on their wealth increase alone (to say nothing of their pre-pandemic billions) could end world hunger and double the incomes of 545 million small-scale farmers.1
Alongside the open letter to Davos attendees, last weekend’s protests, and this new report on billionaire wealth, leadership from the organizations behind In Tax We Trust (the Patriotic Millionaires, Patriotic Millionaires UK, Millionaires for Humanity, and taxmenow) directly reached out to Klaus Schwab, the Executive Chairman of the WEF, asking him in a personal letter to take seriously the threat that rising inequality poses to democracy, and use his position to challenge the attendees of this year’s Davos forum to embrace tax changes that would limit inequality.
“When In Tax We Trust was originally released in January, for the virtual Davos, we had 100 millionaires from all over the world join us. Now we have over 150 and counting. We are not going away.” said Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and former managing director at BlackRock, Inc. “As economies continue to fail people at an ever-worsening rate, and governments continue to serve a wealthy elite rather than democracy, we will continue to pressure global leaders to heed our call: tax the rich before it’s too late.”
“As scandalous as it is that governments seem to be utterly inactive on dealing with the cost of living, it is equally scandalous that they allow extreme wealth to sit in the hands of so few people,” said Julia Davies, founding member of Patriotic Millionaires UK. “Inequality has become a plug on progress and unless we do something to remove that plug we will continue to see a reversal in human development. Our global crises are not accidental, they are the result of bad economic design. As a millionaire I know all too well that the system favours the few. We must make it work for everyone if we expect to progress.”
In January, analysis by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam and the Patriotic Millionaires found that a wealth tax starting at just 2 percent annually for those with more than $5 million, 3 percent for those with over $50 million, and up to 5 percent annually for billionaires could generate upwards of $2.52 trillion a year – enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, fund vaccines for everyone in the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protections for all the citizens of low-and lower-middle-income countries (3.6 billion people).
Chuck Collins, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, said: “The Covid pandemic has super-charged the extreme inequality of health and wealth between the global billionaire class and everyone else. National governments should levy both windfall wealth taxes and annual wealth taxes to ensure the wealthy pay their fair share and that societies are able to make urgent investments in health and social protection.”
Max Lawson, Head of Inequality Policy for Oxfam International, said: “Never before have we seen such a huge increase in poverty at the same time as such a huge increase in billionaire wealth. Whilst Covid-19 and now the food crisis have created misery for millions, behind closed doors in Davos billionaires are celebrating a fantastic few years when they have made out like bandits. This savage inequality must end. It is beyond time to tax the rich, and use this money to save lives.”
1. The wealth of billionaires in Food and Agriculture rose by $382 billion, or 45%, in real terms between March 2020 and March 2022 according to Oxfam’s analysis of the Forbes list. A joint initiative of Cornell University, IISD, and IFPRI, which looked at a package of interventions required to spur agriculture development and end hunger, estimated that donor governments must spend an additional USD 14 billion a year on average until 2030 to end hunger, double the incomes of 545 million small-scale farmers. (see: https://ceres2030.org/shorthand_story/donors-must-double-aid-to-end-hunger-and-spend-it-wisely/