The situation hasn't changed a whit -- indeed, it has become worse. As the Guardian
states, US billionaires have profited hugely from the pandemic, while ordinary working men and women have lost jobs, are getting no income support, and small businesses are closing down.
Many are household names. Others have fled to their luxury yachts and boltholes in faroff places, including New Zealand. Some bolster their image by creating foundations -- feel-good moves that benefit something vague like stamping out malaria, but do nothing to help ordinary citizens in this time of great crisis.
As the story relates, The already vast fortunes of America’s 643 billionaires have soared by an average of 29% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which has at the same time laid waste to tens of millions of jobs around the world. The richest of the superrich have benefited by $845bn , according to a report by a US progressive thinktank, the Institute for Policy Studies.
The report calculated that 643 billionaires in the US had racked up $845bn (£642bn) in collective wealth gains since 18 March, when lockdowns began across the US and much of the rest of the world. The collective wealth of the billionaire class increased from $2.95tn to $3.8tn. That works out to gains of $141bn a month, or $4.7bn a day.
Since the start of the pandemic, the wealth of Jeff Bezos has almost doubled, to over 186 billion. This is because people who are locked down, or afraid of going out, are using Amazon to deliver goods to their doors.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has seen his wealth increase by 84% or $45.9bn to $100.6bn.
Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of electric car company Tesla, has also benefited from the pandemic. His estimated fortune has risen by 274%, to $92bn.
Bill Gates, who has made a vague pledge to give at least half of his fortune to charity and has already pledged a “few billion dollars” to the fight against coronavirus, has seen his estimated fortune grow by 19% to $116bn.
Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar, both Democratic senators, have introduced legislation dubbed the “Make Billionaires Pay Act” for a one-off 60% tax on the wealth gains of billionaires between 18 March and the end of the year to help working Americans cover healthcare costs.
Under Sanders’ proposal, Bezos would pay a one-time wealth tax of $42.8bn, and Musk would pay $27.5bn.
Robert Reich, who served as US labour secretary under President Clinton, said “American capitalism is off the rails” and a “wealth tax” was urgently needed to help redress the yawning inequality gap.
“Jeff Bezos could give every Amazon employee $105,000 and still be as rich as he was before the pandemic. If that doesn’t convince you we need a wealth tax, I’m not sure what will.”
As he went on to say, "American capitalism is off the rails." But not just in America. The greed of the few has afflicted the entire world.