Last week at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, a small group of millionaires attending the annual meeting of elites stepped out into the streets to join leftist protesters in calling for higher damn taxes on the world’s wealthy. The rich protesters, members of the group Patriotic Millionaires, said wealth inequality has to be addressed by the world’s governments. The BBC reports,
UK millionaire Phil White said: “While the rest of the world is collapsing under the weight of an economic crisis, billionaires and world leaders meet in this private compound to discuss turning points in history.
“It’s outrageous that our political leaders listen to those who have the most, know the least about the economic impact of this crisis, and many of whom pay infamously little in taxes. The only credible outcome from this conference is to tax the richest and tax us now.”
US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) tweeted Tuesday that she hears the cries of the wealthy and will do what she can to help, passing along the BBC headline and adding “Don’t mind if we do.”
As you’d expect, Warren’s tweet was met with catcalls from Twitter trolls who brilliantly said that the rich should just donate their money and leave the rest of us alone, presumably because Matt BunchofNumbers from the Internet fears he may be hit with an oppressive millionaires’ tax just as soon as he has $50 million in assets.
White told the Beeb that he was out in the streets at Davos to call for change because economic inequality around the world has become unsustainable, and the system is failing.
Only a few of the Davos attendees joined in the protest, but Patriotic Millionaires also sent an open letter to all the delegates at the WEF. The letter, signed by 150 millionaires from around the world, calls for WEF attendees to support fairer taxation and economic opportunity. Among the signatories are familiar Patriotic Millionaires like Abigail Disney, who’s always happy to call for the Mouse to pay its share of taxes, and my personal favorite billionaire, Nick Hannauer, an early investor in Amazon who warned his “fellow plutocrats” in a TED talk that they need to unrig the system, or “the pitchforks are coming” — and they’ll be richly deserved. Hanauer has long called for economic policies that will primarily benefit working and middle class folks, a position that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have both embraced, noting that if most Americans are doing well, so will the investment class.
Another millionaire at the protest, Marlene Engelhorn, said that the wealthy and powerful need to fix the mess they and their lobbyists have created:
As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life, I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something.
We have hit the end of the line when another quarter of a billion people will be pushed into extreme poverty this year.
The BBC notes that the global antipoverty group Oxfam issues an annual report on inequality each year during the Davos meeting; this year’s report said that during the two years of the pandemic, the world economy created a new billionaire every 30 hours, but that it expects about a million people to fall into extreme poverty every 33 hours this year.
For her part, Warren has long advocated a millionaire wealth tax that would apply to those with assets over $50 million; last year, she introduced a version of it in the Senate, and we’re sure she’d be happy to try it again, too. President Biden also called for a variation on the idea in his budget proposal earlier this year, in the form of a “Billionaire Minimum Income Tax” that would apply to households with over $100 million in assets.
We’re all in favor of helping the world’s patriotic millionaires to achieve their dream of higher taxes on themselves and their peers. It’s a worthy cause. If we all work together, perhaps we can look forward to a day when the sons and daughters of our wealthiest citizens can be rescued from a life of indolence and corruption, and may even learn the value of an honest day’s work.
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