This weekend, heads of state of G20 member countries will travel to New Delhi, India for the 18th annual G20 summit. Attendees will discuss the most pressing issues related to the global economy, and the meeting will culminate in the adoption of a new G20 Leaders’ Declaration.
Ahead of the summit, the Patriotic Millionaires led the charge with several of our allies – Oxfam, Millionaires for Humanity, Earth4All, and Institute for Policy Studies – to release an open letter to the G20 heads of state, calling on them to work together to tax extreme wealth at the national and international levels. The letter was signed by over 300 millionaires, economists, and politicians – including 18 former heads of state – from around the world and a majority of G20 countries. Notable signatories include millionaires Abigail Disney, Brian Eno, and Richard Curtis; economists Kate Raworth, Lucas Chancel, Jayati Ghosh, Gabriel Zucman, Jason Hickel, Joseph Stiglitz, and Thomas Piketty; and US politicians Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and Representative Brendan Boyle (PA).
The letter has attracted a great deal of media attention. As of this writing, we have received critical mentions in high profile outlets including The Guardian, The Telegraph, Financial Times, Daily Mail, Big Issue, and Al Jazeera.
Extreme wealth concentration has reached a tipping point both here at home and around the world. Over the last decade in G20 countries, individuals with fortunes over $50 million have enjoyed an 18.3% growth in wealth, while billionaires have seen their wealth grow by 109%. Since 2020, the richest 1% around the world have captured nearly two-thirds – a whopping $42 trillion – of all new wealth created; meanwhile, 1.7 billion workers live in countries where inflation is outpacing wage growth.
As we said in our letter, “[this] accumulation of extreme wealth by the world’s richest individuals has become an economic, ecological, and human rights disaster, threatening political stability in countries all over the world. Such steep levels of inequality undermine the strength of virtually every one of our global systems, and must be addressed head-on.”
We know we sound like a broken record here, but that’s sort of our job: extreme wealth inequality creates extreme politics, which in turn threaten democracy and our socio-economic stability. If the G20 does not act, the consequences for our economy, our politics, and our democracy will be dire.
What makes inaction so baffling is the popularity of taxing extreme wealth. A petition run by one of our allies, Avaaz, garnered over 600,000 signatures calling on G20 leaders to raise taxes on the ultra-rich. Public polling in all G20 countries backs this up. Now, over 300 economists, millionaires, and politicians – arguably those with the most knowledge, money, and power related to this issue – have joined the growing chorus to make the same demand.
Our world is facing massive challenges, many of which stem from the failure of world leaders – particularly the G20 – to address massive democracy-destabilizing economic inequality. They must find the political will to change course before it’s too late.