Survival of the Richest

Shutterstock | Hyejin Kang

 
 
  

This week, over 2,700 world leaders are attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland – better known as simply “Davos.” Every year, elites from business, politics, and civil society meet at this annual conference held at an exclusive and luxurious Swiss ski resort to discuss humanity’s most pressing problems. And every year, they fail to make any real change because they refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room – if they want to make our world a more stable and prosperous place, a lot of Davos attendees need to start paying much higher taxes.

If you need any more proof that Davos is nothing more than a PR exercise for relentless self-promoters who don’t actually care about doing anything good for anyone other than themselves and their fellow wealthy elites, just look at who’s there from the US: Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

We’ve got some very exciting content coming out tomorrow that will call on the world leaders attending Davos to fight the growth of extreme wealth by taxing rich people like us, so keep an eye on our social media pages – FacebookInstagram, and Twitter – and our website!

In the meantime, for today’s Closer Look we want to highlight an explosive report – Survival of the Richest – that our allies at Oxfam published yesterday as Davos was kicking off. (You can read it HERE.) The report showcases just how bad inequality has become around the world today and how government leaders have failed to use taxes as a means to close the growing gap between rich and poor.

  • Over the past two years of the pandemic and cost of living crisis, the richest 1% of the global population have taken home roughly two-thirds of all new wealth created. Of the $42 trillion in new wealth created, the richest 1% captured $26 trillion while the remaining 99% of the world claimed $16 trillion.
  • Since 2020, billionaires have increased their fortunes by no less than $2.7 billion a day. For every $1 of new wealth gained by someone in the bottom 90% of the global population, a billionaire gained roughly $1.7 million (no, that’s not a typo).
  • Executives at food and energy companies have done particularly well for themselves over this period as their products become more and more expensive for ordinary consumers. 95 food and energy corporations more than doubled their profits in 2022 and paid out no less than $257 billion (84%) of those funds to wealthy shareholders.
  • At least 1.7 billion workers are living in countries where inflation is outpacing wages.
  • Over 820 million people – roughly 1 in 10 people on Earth – are going hungry.
  • For every $1 in taxes collected around the world, only four cents come from taxes on wealth.
  • Rich people get most of their income from capital gains. Worldwide, these are taxed at an average rate of 18%, which is just over half as much as the average rate imposed on income from labor.
  • Half of the world’s billionaires live in countries without inheritance taxes and will pass on no less than $5 trillion to their heirs, which is more than the GDP of the entire continent of Africa.
  • Over the last forty years, governments across the world have cut top income tax rates, which has served as a boon to the rich, and have raised taxes on goods and services, which has hurt the poor.
  • Over the next five years, three-quarters of world governments are planning on making $7.8 trillion in public sector cuts, including on things like healthcare and education.

In light of these and other findings, Oxfam ends the report by calling on the world leaders attending Davos to increase taxes on the ultra-rich. Some of their specific suggestions include:

  • Introduction of one-off solidarity wealth taxes and windfall profits taxes
  • Increased taxes on the richest 1% of the global population to at least 60% of their income from labor and capital, with special attention given to raising capital gains rates
  • Introduction of inheritance, property, and net wealth taxes

We’ll have more to say about Davos and the need to tax the rich as the week goes by, but for now, the verdict from the Oxfam report is clear: extreme wealth is one of the most pressing issues of our time. If the global elites at Davos really want to talk about solving humanity’s most pressing problems during their week-long, luxurious conference, they should start there.

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