On Wednesday, June 1 at 19:30 GMT:
COVID-19 has been one of the most profitable things to happen in human history – but only a miniscule portion of people benefited.
A new Oxfam report called “Profiting from Pain” found that for a new billionaire was created every 30 hours during the global pandemic. But nearly one million people were pushed into extreme poverty at nearly the same rate in 2022 alone.
Researchers found that approximately 573 people became new billionaires during the pandemic, with a total wealth equivalent to 13.9 percent of global GDP. This is a three-fold increase in wealth from 2000. Currently, the world’s 10 richest men possess more wealth than the bottom 40% of humanity, or 3.1 billion people.
Corporate profit and individual wealth grew the most in the areas where the general population faced the highest prices and challenges: energy, food, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Oxfam is calling for drastic measures to combat inequality. It is urging governments to introduce a one-off tax on billionaires’ pandemic profits to help regular people pay for the rapidly rising cost of food and energy, and to create an annual wealth tax of 2% on millionaires and 5% on billionaires. It says this tax would generate $2.52 trillion per year, which could provide things like universal health care and social protections for every resident of low to lower-middle-income nations.
But will these recommendations ever be put into policy? In this episode we’ll discuss Oxfam’s report, and ask if those who profited from the pandemic have an extra responsibility to those who suffered the most.
In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Irit Tamir, @itamir77
Director, Private Sector Department, Oxfam America
Founder, We Have the Power, and Member, Patriotic Millionaires UK
Public Health Activist, and Coordinator at the AccessIBSA project