This week, nearly 2500 world leaders are gathering in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting – better known as simply “Davos.” This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that international elites have gathered together in person for the annual conference.
At Davos, some of the world’s richest and most powerful people gather in exclusive private meetings to discuss how to solve all of the world’s problems, with a special focus this year on restoring trust in global leaders and institutions. If you see the irony there, then congratulations, you’re more perceptive than most of the forum’s attendees.
With global inequality skyrocketing and the COVID-19 pandemic boosting billionaire fortunes while at the same time pushing nearly 500 million people further into extreme poverty, the world cannot afford any more self-congratulatory meetings that do nothing except make billionaires and world leaders feel good about themselves. The world needs action to solve this crisis, and there is only one kind of response that has the scope to solve such a worldwide, systemic problem: taxing the rich.
That’s why our organization has partnered with several other groups – Millionaires for Humanity, taxmenow, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Fight Inequality Alliance – to put out a slew of products that aim to call the Davos attendees’ attention to the urgent need to tax the rich.
This past January, the Patriotic Millionaires, along with Millionaires for Humanity and taxmenow, released a letter with over 100 high net worth signers that called on attendees at the online version of Davos to tax rich people like them. For this week’s in-person Davos, we have re-released the letter with dozens of new signers, adding high profile figures like actor and activist Mark Ruffalo to existing signers like Abigail Disney.
We also partnered with the same organizations to send a letter directly to Klaus Schwab, the Executive Chairman of the WEF. In the letter, we call on Schwab to take seriously the threat that rising inequality poses to democracies worldwide and to use his position to challenge Davos attendees to embrace tax changes that would close the widening gap between the rich and the rest.
We wanted to make sure that our letters got the attention of the Davos attendees, and figured the best way to do so would be to give it to them directly. Our Chairman, Morris Pearl, hand-delivered our letter directed at Davos attendees to the WEF office in New York, and Marlene Engelhorn, one of the founding members of taxmenow, did the same at the WEF office in Geneva, Switzerland.
But that’s not all! One of our UK members, Phil White, joined an in-person, pro-taxation protest hosted by the 99% Initiative on the outskirts of Davos. This protest has garnered a significant amount of media attention, with The Guardian, Reuters, and the BBC being just a few of the high profile outlets that have covered the event.
We cannot overstate just how important it is for the world leaders and billionaires at Davos to get on board with the tax the rich agenda. The world’s inequality crisis is getting worse with each passing day, as Oxfam’s new “Profiting from Pain” report lays out. According to the report, billionaire wealth soared to record levels during the pandemic, but this is particularly the case for billionaires in the food, pharmaceutical, energy, and tech sectors. Billionaires in the food and energy sectors, for one, saw their fortunes increase by no less than a billion dollars every two days over the past two years. This statistic is particularly hard to swallow in light of the fact that these industries are hitting consumers hardest in the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The answer to this problem is simple. Last January, we partnered with Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and Oxfam to release our “Taxing Extreme Wealth” report, which found that a modest annual wealth tax on the world’s millionaires and billionaires could generate upwards of $2.52 trillion a year. This would be enough to, among other things, lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty and fund vaccines for everyone in the world.
For this week’s in-person Davos, we are re-releasing our report along with an Extreme Wealth Interactive Map. Users can click on any country on the virtual map and find out how many millionaires and billionaires live in that country, and how much revenue a modest annual wealth tax on those high worth individuals would raise.
We believe that our world is at a crossroads. As the theme of this year’s Davos says, history is at a turning point. Inequality is out of control, and thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying needlessly every day because of it. Something must be done to close the ever-growing financial gap between rich people like us and everyone else, and that something is the international implementation of progressive taxes. It’s time for the Davos elite to wake up and take action, before it’s too late.