COVID-19 added as many as 97 million people to extreme poverty in 2021, according to the World Bank. Meanwhile, the world’s billionaires added $5 trillion to their wealth and a never seen before growth in the number of billionaires happened, as published by Forbes Magazine.
While billionaires keep getting richer, the rest of the world suffers with one of the biggest health and economic crises ever.
According to the World Hunger Organization, 821 million people are hungry worldwide. Global Giving estimates a range from US$7 billion to US$265 billion a year. The range is so wide because of external issues like disease outbreaks and rising prices of food which can affect the hunger crisis.
In a year without any unexpected crisis, the cost to solve world hunger would be about US$15 billion. Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, could feed everyone and still be a billionaire, leaving him with US$169 billion.
In Brazil, 20 new billionaires surfaced during a pandemic year. Not only did Brazil’s health system collapse twice, but the population under the line of poverty tripled by 2021, as published by CNN Brasil.
People are dying from not having the basics like food and water while some people like Elon Musk, owner of Tesla, and Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, have launched spaceships and are playing astronaut.
According to Global Citizen, international education and advocacy organization working to catalyze the movement to end extreme poverty: “There is no such thing as a self-made billionaire. All billionaires become rich due to economic and social conditions that provided the resources, labor, and legal frameworks in which their wealth accrued.”
The way society is set up allows for an unfair and immoral system that supports the idea that luxurious wealth can exist at the expense of the hungry and unemployed.
Workers are dying in Amazon warehouses, like in Bessemer, Alabama where an employee collapsed during his shift. All that happens is a statement of how sad the company is for losing someone. No further details are even shared about the situation.
Some capitalism enthusiasts may say billionaires got their money fair and square, so they have the right to do whatever they feel like doing with it.
Yes, that could be true. But not always.
Billionaires are known for tax evasion, overworking employees and, sometimes, not even paying minimum wage salaries. Bezos, for example, paid federal income taxes last year for the first time since 2016, according to CNBC.
And even if they don’t do any of those, especially because of the shockingly low tax rates they find in countries like the U.S., but still managed to become a billionaire, it’s so much deeper than ‘their money, their choice.’
One single billionaire could fix pay gap disparities in all companies’ salaries, end world hunger, end extreme poverty, and still be a billionaire.
That is absurd.
How can some people be on top of society like that when there are entire families who don’t have access to safe drinking water in the same country? Bezos alone could replace all lead pipes in the USA and still have US$134 billions of his fortune.
Even if you have an amazing job and make $100 an hour. Working 10 hours for 5 days a week, that would be $5,000. If that’s every week, for a year, that’s $260,000 before taxes.
It would take you 4,167 years to make a billion dollars.
Ridiculous, isn’t it?
This is also a good reminder that when ‘TAX THE RICH!’ is said, no one’s talking about a family that travels abroad once a year and lives a nice life. The billionaires who won’t even feel it in their pockets, are the ones being talked about.
So no, billionaires should not be able to live like this, especially when they have the power to – quite literally – change the world but don’t do it.
Governments need to start taxing the rich and people should raise their voices on the issue.