In May 2020, Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS reported,
“The government’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic has been cut from disaster capitalism’s cloth. It has seized the opportunity to hand the great wealth and public good of NHS data to global – largely American – companies, after a decade of running down public health services.
And in the rush to centralise and privatise their response to the pandemic, the government have diverted key resources away from public health. ”
Covid-19 disaster capitalist rip-off
Now Oxfam and other social/economic justice organisations have confirmed the Covid-19 Disaster Capitalist rip off, pointing out that
“Billionaire wealth has increased more over the past 17 months than it has in the past 15 years, and 325 new billionaires joined the Forbes Billionaire Club since the pandemic began – equivalent to roughly one new billionaire minted every day.”
The world’s billionaires have a collective net worth of £9.7 trillion ($13.5 trillion) – up from £6 trillion ($8 trillion) at the beginning of the pandemic, a gain of nearly 69 per cent. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ wealth increased by £57.3 billion ($79.4 billion) during the pandemic, rising from £81.5 billion ($113 billion) in March 2020 to £139 billion ($192 billion).
Gary Stevenson, inequality economist, former trader and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK said:
“The super-rich have made enormous fortunes during this crisis, just like in 2008. We know what will happen if we do nothing about this, in the UK we are already seeing huge increases in inequality and huge rises in house prices while wages stay in a slump. It’s time for the very wealthiest to pay their fair share to help society recover from this global crisis. Philanthropy isn’t the answer, it can’t be optional. A wealth tax is the solution.”
114m people made jobless by Covid-19 – more people are now dying from hunger and malnutrition than from the virus
At the same time, according to the ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook 2021 Flagship Report,
“220 million people are currently unemployed. Of these, 114 million people were made jobless by COVID-19.”
The Covid-19 crisis has pushed over 200 million people into poverty and cost women around the world at least £600 billion in lost income in 2020, ($800 billion) equivalent to more than the combined GDP of 98 countries. At the same time, 11 people are now likely dying of hunger and malnutrition each minute, outpacing Covid-19 fatalities.
One-off emergency wealth tax on billionaires’ spoils of the pandemic
Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Patriotic Millionaires are calling for a one-off emergency tax amounting to a 99 per cent levy on billionaires’ wealth gains during the pandemic, to pay for everyone on the planet to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and provide a £14,000 ($20,000) cash grant to all unemployed workers.
The one-time emergency Covid-19 billionaire tax would raise £4 trillion ($5.4 trillion) and still leave the world’s 2,690 billionaires £40 billion ($55 billion) richer than before the virus struck.
To give a one-off $20,000 (£14,000) cash grant to all workers currently unemployed would cost $4.4 trillion (£3.2 trillion).
No one’s safe until everyone’s safe
Less than one per cent of people in low-income countries have received a vaccine, while the profits made by Big Pharma have seen the CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech become billionaires.
The cost of vaccinating the world’s adult population has been calculated as follows: two doses at $7 (£5) per dose for 5 billion people, for a total of $70 billion (£50.5 billion). This is based on the average cost per dose. Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Patriotic Millionaires do not endorse such high prices for vaccines and, as part of The People’s Vaccine Alliance, are campaigning for patent-free access to allow generic manufacturers to produce COVID-19 vaccines to drive down prices.
Max Lawson, Oxfam International’s Global Inequality Policy Lead, said:
“Billionaire Jeff Bezos could personally pay for enough vaccines for the whole world, yet he would rather spend his wealth on a thrill ride to space. Covid-19 is turning the gap between rich and poor into an unbridgeable chasm.”