It’s not every day that some of the world’s richest people ask governments to increase their taxes, but that day has come.
An assortment of 83 of the world’s wealthiest people -- banded together as “Millionaires for Humanity” -- have called on governments around the world to increase taxes not only on them but their uber-wealthy peers to help pay for the economic recovery brought on by COVID-19.
This isn’t your typical Bill Gates/Warren Buffett/Jeff Bezos/Mark Cuban/Alice Walton lineup. The group is made up of well-heeled global citizens that include scientists, economists, and a smattering of trustafarians with names that Joe Q. Public would recognize. They include Jerry Greenfield, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Disney siblings Abigail and Tim Disney.
“As COVID-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world,” the group wrote in a letter to their peers.
“No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door. But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.”
COVID-19’s impact could last decades
The group believes the pandemic’s economic impact is very consequential. In their words, the impact of the outbreak will “last for decades” as well as “push half a billion more people into poverty”.
“The problems caused by, and revealed by, COVID-19 can’t be solved with charity, no matter how generous. Government leaders must take the responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly,” the group wrote. “We owe a huge debt to the people working on the frontlines of this global battle. Most essential workers are grossly underpaid for the burden they carry.”
The group doesn’t feel that any amount of philanthropy or handouts will do much at all to cover the damage of the coronavirus. And rather than wait for governmental gridlock to untangle itself, it thinks the most direct line to appropriately fund health care, education, and security is through a permanent tax increase on the wealthy.
“[This situation] requires us to establish a new, real commitment to each other and to what really matters. Our interconnectedness has never been more clear. We must rebalance our world before it is too late. There will not be another chance to get this right,” the group stated.