Oxfam: Jeff Bezos should finance corona vaccinations instead of traveling into space

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A one-time levy on the wealth of billionaires could finance vaccinations against the coronavirus for everyone in the world. This is what the Oxfam aid organization assumes. Jeff Bezos alone could buy enough vaccines for the whole world, but he’d better spend his fortune on a trip into space, says Oxfam.

A one-time COVID-19 billionaire tax of 99 percent on wealth gains in the pandemic could bring in $ 5.4 trillion, and the world’s 2,690 billionaires would still get $ 55 billion richer than before the outbreak Virus, it says in a message. In addition, all unemployed worldwide could receive a grant of $ 20,000. This comes from an analysis made by Oxfam in conjunction with the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Patriotic Millionaires.

The fight against SARS-CoV-2 is being undermined by poverty and inequality, says Oxfam, because governments everywhere under-tax the richest people and big companies. Argentina is taking a special path, which in December 2020 decided on a one-time special levy for the rich to combat the consequences of the pandemic. This resulted in a total of 2.4 billion US dollars.

In Argentina, people who own the equivalent of more than 1.9 million euros have to pay a one-off fee of up to 3.5 percent on their domestic assets and up to 5 percent on their assets abroad. The money is intended to benefit smaller companies and the socially disadvantaged, among other things.

Oxfam is not alone in its demand. Politicians, economists, civil society organizations, the UN, the IMF and the World Bank called for one-off “solidarity taxes” and longer-term property levies for the super-rich to alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic and reduce inequalities.

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The world’s billionaires together own $ 13.5 trillion net, according to Oxfam; before the pandemic it was $ 8 trillion. For example, the wealth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos increased by $ 79.4 billion during the pandemic and is now $ 192.4 billion. Billionaires’ wealth has grown more in the past 17 months than in the previous 15 years. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 325 new billionaires have been added.

In contrast, the COVID-19 crisis has driven more than 200 million people into poverty and cost women worldwide at least $ 800 billion in income losses in 2020. At the same time, 11 people would die of hunger and malnutrition every minute, more than from COVID-19. Oxfam sees historical examples of a special levy for the rich. After the First and Second World Wars, one-off property taxes were levied in European countries and Japan to finance reconstruction.

Bezos flew into space in July with a space capsule from his company Blue Origin. The Patriotic Millionaires commented shortly thereafter: “Sixty years ago we sent the first American into space, the highest income tax rate at the time was 91 percent. Today a billionaire took off into space after years of paying a real tax rate of less than one percent.” The Patriotic Millionaires are a group of individuals in the United States with annual incomes in excess of $ 1 million or assets in excess of $ 5 million. She advocates raising the minimum wage, combating the influence of money in politics and promoting a progressive tax structure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a need for a billion vaccine doses in the poorer regions of Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America and Europe by September. About one percent of the people there have been vaccinated once. In Germany, a good 60 percent of people have now received at least one vaccine dose.

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