capitalism

In recent times several justice studies have pointed out how the wealth of top billionaires of world have increased at a very fast pace. But the latest estimate presented on January 19 by the organisation Americans for Tax Fairness has still proved shocking for many people.

This estimate tells us that the wealth of top 10 US billionaires has increased in pandemic times at the rate of approximately one billion dollars per day. The total wealth of these 10 billionaires, predictably led by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, increased from over 600 billion dollars to over 1300 billion dollars during this period, more than doubling. This amounts to adding $12,600 every second.

The average household income in the USA is among the highest in the world. Yet each one of these ten billionaires during this pandemic period was able to earn just within a minute what the average US household expects to earn in a year.

What is more, this analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness has pointed out, much of this income increase by these billionaires is likely to remain untaxed due to the existing exemptions by the law for unrealized capital gains in the USA. Efforts have been made to bring at least such earnings of the super-rich under taxation but these have not been successful so far.

In a different and wider analysis covering all US billionaires (around 740) the same organisation has pointed out that their wealth increase of about 1000 billion dollars in just the 12 months of 2021 is likely to go largely untaxed as under the exiting law taxation opportunity arises mostly when the underlyng asset is being sold and these billionaires do not need to sell any asset to lead their highly luxurious lifestyle.

However questions are being raised about the glaringly unjust situation as the number of US households who are unable to make their essential utility payments has increased in pandemic times, the number of people who are behind rent and mortgage payments has increased enormously, a very serious homelessness crisis is looming. In fact even before the advent of the pandemic, these problems existed to a significant extent and these have increased in pandemic times, although temporarily checked from blowing over completely by some band-aid kind of steps.

In such a stuation it is hardly surprising that an increasing  number of people and organisations are  questioning what exactly is happening , and why several very powerful persons have been trying to spread the message that things will not be returning to the normal that existed before the pandemic. Is it that certain aspects of the present situation created by the pandemic  are so favorable for some extremely rich and powerful persons and their fortunes that they would prefer this to the normal, while the common human being yearns for a return to the normal ( despite all the problems of that normal too).

Hence increasingly the interests of the 98% are found to be at variance with the interests of the top 2%, and yet the top 2% are able to utlise their enormous resources to create conditions in which they continue to prosper further at the expense of the 98%. Perhaps at no other stage of history were such a small percentage of human beings able to manipulate the situation to their advantage to such an extent and for subordinating the interests of so many other people. Hence there is need for more caution today for understanding the emerging reality and for protecting the most imporant intersts of justice, peace ad environment protection.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Protect Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children and Man Over Machine—A Path to Peace.


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