Wednesday 1st of December 2021

... and the rich got richer...

richrich

At a recent IMF event on recovering nations from the coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the COVID-19 coronavirus plunged over 100 million people into poverty, with over 4 billion people with little or no social support. 

Hardly anyone would deny that the coronavirus pandemic is having a disastrous impact on the world, its people, its economies, and, most importantly, on the means of subsistence of about a quarter of the world’s population, which is already at or beyond the point of vulnerability and dependence. Without work – even casual, hourly, or daily work to earn money to buy food – people are doomed to die of disease, starvation, or complete neglect. For 40 million Americans, the pandemic resulted in a hike in unemployment benefits, reaching its highest level in decades. For many small companies, it threatened bankruptcy and withdrawal from the market.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world with unprecedented damage across the vast majority of sectors. The transport, aviation, tourism, and energy industries have suffered huge losses. 

Nevertheless, as the statistics quoted by many media outlets show, to some, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 has brought not ruin but new super profits, confirming the postulate that “in times of change and turmoil, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.” 

According to the Swiss bank UBS, during the coronavirus disaster, the combined fortune of our planet’s billionaire super-rich has grown to $14.7 trillion, as a study by the Hurun Research Institute confirms. This is a record high, well above the level of 2017, when it was considered the highest. The number of dollar billionaires has also increased to over three thousand. The most significant piece of the coronavirus pie came from those whose business was initially related to medicine and, in particular, pharmacology. Their wealth increased by 50%. Prominent among the lucky ones are Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna Therapeutics, an American company awarded a grant for developing a vaccine against coronavirus (his fortune doubled during the pandemic to more than $1.5 billion), and Gustavo Denegri, chairman of DiaSorin biotech producing COVID-19 test systems and diagnostic kits (his wealth increased by one-third, reaching $4.5 billion). Alain Mérieux, BioMérieux founder, increased his wealth by a quarter, to $ 7.6 billion, on similar products – tests that can quickly determine the presence of human coronavirus. The list of “medical billionaires” in the current era of the coronavirus is quite extensive. 

The owners of modern high-tech companies were in ‘just’ a somewhat less advantageous position. The increase in their wealth was also clearly predictable because, with active digitalization and computerization, the coronavirus literally squeezed the whole world online, and at the same time, required complex technological and intelligent solutions for a lot of things that seemed elementary to us before its arrival. So it’s not surprising that Jeff Bezos, with his Amazon, whose fortune recently surpassed $200 billion, has nothing to complain about. The owners of such companies as TikTok, Zoom, Netflix, Microsoft, whose capitalization increase is estimated by financial experts to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars at least, are clearly not at a loss.

This sharp increase in economic inequality has been proposed to be responded to by measures suggested by economists Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman, who favor raising taxes on the richest people, reports France 24. Argentina, in particular, has followed this path, with legislation passed last December to finance the fight against the impact of the pandemic, imposing a tax on large property assets that could generate about $3 billion for the country.

“The Virus of Inequality” was the name of NGO Oxfam’s annual report on economic inequality in the world published back in January for the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Tech giants have benefited the most from the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the poor may take more than a decade to recover, according to the study. According to Oxfam, this is the most significant economic crisis since the 1930s. 

At the same time, “the billions of people who were living on the edge of poverty at the beginning of the pandemic no longer have either the income or support to survive the crisis,” said Dhananjayan Sivaguru, the CEO of Oxfam GB. Meanwhile, a small group of the world’s wealthiest people have amassed more money than they will be able to spend in their lifetime, Oxfam’s report says. The study indicates that the richest people on the planet were able to return to their previous level of wealth at the end of 2020, despite the deep crisis in the world from the pandemic. Some of them were able to significantly increase their assets thanks to the Covid pandemic.

Since March 2020, the wealth of the ten wealthiest people in the world has increased by $540 billion, more than it would cost to vaccinate all the people on the planet! The study was based on a survey of some 300 economists from 79 countries, notes Frankfurter Rundschau. The income inequality will continue to widen or increase dramatically during the Covid crisis, as expected by 87% of academics surveyed.

Research by the International Monetary Fund also shows that the pandemic only widens the already existing gap between the economies of the world’s richest and poorest countries.  In the developing world, with a younger but more vulnerable population, where most people are still unvaccinated against COVID-19 and where governments cannot afford sustainable stimulus measures, economies are increasingly lagging as they try to recover from last year’s record recession. According to the Pew Research Center, the middle class in these countries, which is a key engine of economics, educational and political development, is rapidly shrinking.

The UN Development Programme estimates that, with school closures and the distance learning gap, 86% of primary-school-age children in countries with a low Human Development Index are now out of school, compared with 20% in countries with a high Human Development Index. Humanity may be coming to terrifying values not seen since the 1980s.

Data from developing countries show that children from the poorest households are still three times less likely to reach their fifth birthday than children from the wealthiest families. Against the overall backdrop of declines in global maternal mortality during the pandemic, these countries saw increases in maternal mortality, stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies, and parental depression. Studies show that the burden of pandemic mortality is positively related to national per capita income.

That’s why it is not surprising that conspiracy theories in various countries have lately become more and more popular, particularly regarding the fact that “the fourth revolution,” or to be more exact – the real war against humanity, is allegedly being prepared for the world. With this conclusion, the famous American journalist James Corbett has tried for several years to warn people about the impending “great reset” for total control over them. Corbett continues to write that the coronavirus pandemic is only a method by which long-term monitoring and control of people are planned.

This, in particular, explains the decision earlier this year by the Court of Appeals of the Peruvian provinces of Chincha and Pisco in the southern region of Ica, which declared the involvement of “the world’s dominant criminal elites” in the emergence of a new type of coronavirus epidemic. “None of the world’s governments, no natural or legal person, or the defendant’s defense can confirm that the epidemic has the property of “predictability”, except its creators among the authors of the new world order, such as Bill Gates, George Soros, Rockefeller and others who manage and direct it in conditions of extreme secrecy by their global corporations, which make forecasts until 2030,” Peru.21 quoted the text of the court-adopted document.

 

Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

 

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groundbreaking tax on billionaires...

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats rushed on Tuesday to nail down the details of a groundbreaking tax on billionaires’ wealth, part of an elaborate menu of tax increases to finance a significantly scaled-back bill that would strengthen the social safety net and address climate change.

Democrats’ plans to pay for about $1.5 trillion in social policy and climate spending could prove to be the most innovative components of the party’s domestic legislation, a top priority, which was once envisioned as a transformative cradle-to-grave initiative to vault a stagnant working class into prosperity. Now, even as President Biden and his allies cut down the plan to ensure it can pass even with Democrats’ razor-thin edge in Congress, they are toiling to agree on new tax policies that could have far-reaching consequences.

Among them is a measure Senate Democrats presented on Tuesday that would impose a 15 percent minimum tax rate on corporations based on the profits they report to their shareholders, not what they show to the Internal Revenue Service.

The billionaires’ tax and the corporate minimum tax faced skepticism among House Democrats, who questioned their feasibility, and both were likely to encounter legal and constitutional challenges. For the first time, billionaires would face a tax on the unrealized gains in the value of their liquid assets, such as stocks, bonds and cash, which can grow for years as vast capital stores that can be borrowed off to live virtually income tax-free.

 

The courts would have to determine whether unrealized gains in wealth can be considered income, which the 16th Amendment allows the federal government to tax. And even if they passed legal muster, the measures were all but certain to spawn fresh tax avoidance efforts.

But with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, a crucial holdout on Mr. Biden’s plan, serving as a one-woman blockade against more conventional tax rate increases, Democrats appeared to have no choice but to turn to creative revenue measures.

“I’ve always felt that success was giving everybody in America the chance to get ahead, and what we’re dealing with here are flagrant loopholes in the tax code,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the Finance Committee. “They’re legal, but I’m going to close them.”

Democratic leaders hoped to unveil a final bill on Wednesday that could pass the House and Senate, but several sticking points remained.

Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, seemed to torpedo a plan that would require banks to provide the I.R.S. with more customer account information to help catch tax cheats, calling the idea “screwed up” and declaring it “cannot happen.” Dropping it would mean that Democrats would have to find another way to raise the hundreds of billions of dollars the provision was estimated to generate.

 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, was trying to line up support, including from Mr. Manchin, to beef up a federally paid family and medical leave provision that had been whittled down to just four weeks from 12.

Senator Raphael Warnock, Democrat of Georgia, threatened to withdraw his support for the bill if, as expected, it dropped a provision that would expand health coverage for the working poor in a dozen states like his that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, was still furious over the refusal of a handful of Democrats to give Medicare broad powers to negotiate prescription drug prices.

But overall, liberal Democrats were trying to make their peace with a stripped-down bill that would turn a once-expansive vision for social transformation into a series of short-term measures — many of which would expire under a Republican Congress if history holds and the president’s party loses seats in next year’s midterms.

“I’d rather we put programs out there, and if people like them, then we should continue them as a government, and if for some reason they’re not popular, well, then that also helps make some determinations,” said Representative Mark Pocan, Democrat of Wisconsin and a leader of the progressive House Democrats.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and the head of the Progressive Caucus, struck a pragmatic note: “Look, the thing is, we would have been done with a very different bill a month ago if we only needed 90 percent of us, but that’s not the case. We need 100 percent of us.”

 

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, acknowledged that the package would not contain everything that Mr. Biden wanted, but, she said, “The alternative to what is being negotiated is not the original package; it is nothing.”

 

Democratic leaders continued to frame the legislation as transformational, an heir to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. They lumped in its $1.5 trillion in spending with the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid bill that passed last spring and a pending $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure awaiting House passage.

“We’re hopeful, and we’re optimistic about the prospects of delivering something historic, transformative and bigger than one could possibly have imagined, on behalf of everyday Americans,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, declared on Tuesday.

Ms. Jayapal said not all of the provisions had been truncated. Child care subsidies should last six years, and home and community-based health care assistance could stretch even longer.

But other measures have been cut. Two years of guaranteed community college were jettisoned. A broad path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants was knocked out by the Senate parliamentarian, so Democratic leaders were trying to win approval to grant temporary legal status to some undocumented immigrants.

An expansion of Medicare coverage to include dental, vision and hearing care appeared likely to be cut back, if not eliminated, so Mr. Sanders was pushing for a $1,000 debit card as a “bridge to a permanent program,” particularly for dental benefits. A permanent extension of the generous child tax credit created for a year in March’s pandemic relief bill was to be extended only another year.

 

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https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/26/us/politics/democrats-billionaires-tax.html