Jeff Bezos, left, and Elon Musk. Photo: REUTERS file
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Billionaires thriving as poor suffer in widening COVID-19 divide: Oxfam

37 Comments
By Sonia Elks

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37 Comments
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I think they are spiritually poor. Many divorces between them

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Lockdowns mean the poor get poorer and the rich get richer...

All hail King Bezos and Emperor Gates!

9 ( +15 / -6 )

"Rigged economies are funneling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in luxury, while those on the frontline of the pandemic — shop assistants, healthcare workers, and market vendors — are struggling to pay the bills."

This is key. It is not just about helping the "less fortunate".

It is about profits being privatized with suppressed wages in the "good times" and losses being socilaized in crises like the present. The present inequality has little to do with any "meritocratic" aspects of late stage capitalism and all to do with a privileged oligarchy.

Including Bezos with egregious tax avoidance and Musk with his families' blood emerald mines.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Why do you think there are so many poor people, and so few rich people? When we were ruled by royalty, we rebelled. Since we've been ruled by capitalism, we've capitulated.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

...and of course the wealthy of the world meeting at Davos know exactly how to solve the problems of the poor - increased production.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Would you really like to live in a bubble? Not me.

-17 ( +0 / -17 )

Wrong to blame them for making more money just cos the situation with COVID makes it so. A gesture of good will would be a nice thought though.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Anyone shocked? Yeah, me neither.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

and yet each and everyone one of you shop amazon, star buck's apple etc.. and make them richer. Oh praise ye virtue signalers

12 ( +17 / -5 )

2020 saw my wealth grow more than any other year and it just feels wrong. I am doing what I can to put something back into the community.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

while we all are scared of it we know the answer communism is the only way for the humanity to be human and to prevent jumping in to it to fast the Chinese way is the best bridge towards the eventual civilized coexistence of all humans.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

while we all are scared of it we know the answer communism is the only way for the humanity to be human

No, actually the social-democracies of the Scandinavian countries are better examples. The people pay a ton of taxes, yet have social services that more than make up for what they are paying.

Who ever heard of a billionaire only paying what $75.00 in taxes? The system is the problem, and no one wants to really fix it.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

The massive increase in their wealth would have paid for the entire world to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

@expat - You are quite correct. After all, according to the Davos crowd, it is now all about the "Great Reset" where we (we meaning the non elite) will own nothing and be happy.

Seems from the discussions here on Japan today lots of people are doing well which is nice to hear in times like these.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Meanwhile, the collective wealth of the world's billionaires rose $3.9 trillion between March and December 2020 to reach$11.95 trillion, the report calculated.

It is a fantasy though as this is stock wealth based on rising share prices. It can collapse in days.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The US stock market is now a rigged fantasy and has no relationship to the real world.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

First of all, Trump is instrumental in enriching all the billionaires above by his tax incentives originally intended to himself and his cronies but spread like a pandemic to all billionaires who hold interest in the U.S.. You can't blame them to acquire several millions or hundred of millions in one tax season even their businesses stayed dormant.

Secondly, the above billionaires were in a right business at the right time. Right place at the right moment.

Bezo, whose business is in marketing and transportation is absolute in line of those who were in lockdown situation.

Musk, with his EV, in line with New California Law and CCP Law, he'd got a boost in retrospect to being the foremost EV maker. Not to mentions his success in Space Project.

Gates, his business in software, games, cloud computing, security, etc. are all very in line with home studies, work at home and so forth.

Not a generalization but most of these men were once like us, they strived but also made perfect decisions.

Some turned out to be a good philanthropist and most weren't, but we're in a democratic country right?

"One's Standing In Life Depends On One's decision In Life"

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The disruption during Covid-19 has amplified it, but this trend of the mega rich getting much richer has been happening since the 1980s. Just look at any graph plotting income or wealth of top 1% or top 0.1% against those of the bottom 10, 30 or 50%. They are all over the Internet and in books like Piketty's.

It is the result of so-called neoliberal economics. Trickle down is a complete myth.

Do not expect Biden or Harris to change this. They were deliberately selected and backed to block more less rich-friendly candidates like Sanders and Warren.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Capitalism working as intended.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Do not expect Biden or Harris to change this. They were deliberately selected and backed to block more less rich-friendly candidates like Sanders and Warren.

If this were truly the case, then Trump would have won by a landslide. It is rather unusual in American politics over the past generation, for a president to NOT win a 2nd term, they have to be idiots or total losers, or both!

Kind of funny, in my opinion, that the only two who havent managed to win a 2nd term, were Republicans!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Why on earth do millionaires look like creepy villains with inflated egos?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

-14 and counting down. I guess most responders here would rather be billionaires locked in a bubble or socaial cage rather than have the freedom to go about living life. I prefer my freedom and not having to worry about being kidnapped or having the family and friends and unknowns wanting my money all the time.

I cherish the fact that I can walk down the street, drop into a high end Kaiseki place or McDonald's and be happy.

I feel sorry for those that think money is the answer to happiness and freedom.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I am probably in the top 1% for happiness and the top 20% for wealth. But I do not own a car, and we even unplug the electrical items when not in use.

All these billionaires do not flaunt their wealth. The tabloids do that for them. When was the last time you saw a billionaire walking down the street?

I actually saw Son because one of my relatives was a private teacher for one of his friends and knew his outfits to go incognito. Was kind of funny to see him. We laughed. He gave a nod to my nephew.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

When was the last time you saw a billionaire walking down the street?

They are billionaires, they dont walk in public!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Capitalism vs Socialism, oh if it were all so simple.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Yubaru: Mr. Son did. And road the Denentoshi line.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

called for higher wealth taxes

Lol, when wasn’t that the answer.

Look, the central governments and banks are blowing all sorts of bubbles - that’s why the rich are getting richer - it’s not their fault!!

I see my financial investments racing up recently without lifting a thumb, it’s largely the same for these billionaires.

The answer to the madness is not to smack down the rich, the answer is to smack down the central governments and central banks that are blowing these bubbles! They need to be shackled, to prevent them from perpetuating this inequality upon society through their actions.

These are the same clowns who think annual inflation of more than 2% a year would be fantastic - even though it’s the same as a 2% tax on the poor every year.

The central governments and banks are the problem here. We free people must speak out against it and persuade the voters to effect changes.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Joe Biden will spur "more willingness" for joint action on issues including a crackdown on tax havens and a bailout for developing nations..

No such thing will happen..they are all funded by them..as for bailouts..these always comes with riders.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Why are people unhappy when someone else makes money? Isn't envy a sin?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Boy howdy. Conservatives are apoplectic when people want $15/hour, but seem to have no problem with Bezos making $2000/second. Or Musk claiming to have come from nothing when he was the son of the owners of an apartheid-era emerald mine.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Why are people unhappy when someone else makes money? Isn't envy a sin?

So is greed.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

StrangerlandToday 03:24 am JST

Why are people unhappy when someone else makes money? Isn't envy a sin?

"So is greed."

But it is also the dominant VALUE, hence the seed of the deadly force to take from others, that is ALL that is Mankind in the last 70,000 years...Parasitic greed rules us and kills us if we refuse to co-operate! We're really very simple monkeys.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I feel sorry for those that think money is the answer to happiness and freedom.

I forget who said it (I want to say a comedian I heard once), but many people who say 'money can't buy happiness or freedom' are living in a ridiculous haze.

Because while money might not buy you freedom or happiness, you can almost guarantee that the lack of money will create a metric ton of stress, lack of freedom, and unhappiness.

Tell the guy who has to work two jobs to even pay for a 'basic' lifestyle that it's not the lack of money that's affecting him, it's his mindset.

Or tell people like my parents, too poor to pay for the assisted living or medical care they need, that money can't buy them freedom or happiness. Oh, I'm sure many reading this would say that their ungrateful son should be helping them, but I'm barely keeping my own family above water as is, working 60+ hours a week.

Tell the kid who goes to bed hungry, who knows deep down in their gut that their only chance at escaping a ghetto is to either be a one in a million talent with a basketball, soccer ball, or just the ability to beat another human being unconscious, to join a military force at little more than poverty wages, or to enter a life of crime. Tell them that money can't buy them some freedom and happiness.

No. The truth is that while money may not be the full answer to happiness and freedom, they sure can purchase a lot of opportunities for both.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Better to be unhappy and rich than unhappy and poor.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So is greed.

Being super wealthy isn't always the goal, greed may have nothing to do with any of those people's returns in 2020. Anyone invested in QQQ the last yr could have made a 40% return. I'm I greedy for doing that?

People good at making money, employing others, paying the legally required taxes, paying the "going wage" for the work performed aren't greedy regardless of what we say. There are people paying less than the prevailing wage, abusing "contractors" to get out of employee benefit mandates, and otherwise being slimy - those people may be greedy.

Musk choosing to leave California isn't being greedy. California taxes are out of line when compared to other states. That doesn't mean Musk isn't an arse. He is.

I would say that Bill Gates isn't greedy either, especially when compared to Balmer. Gates and his wife are running science-based, results oriented, charities trying to make the most world-wide impact with their money.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Being super wealthy isn't always the goal, greed may have nothing to do with any of those people's returns in 2020. Anyone invested in QQQ the last yr could have made a 40% return. I'm I greedy for doing that?

Wanting what other's have in order to have toys or whatever isn't always the goal, some people just want to make enough by working full time to cover their food and shelter.

See, these mortal sins - greed, envy - can be explained away on both sides.

Which was a really long way of saying that while 'envy' is a sin, so is 'greed, but applying either of these terms as a blanket label on everyone poor, or everyone rich, doesn't really fit with the real world.

Why are people unhappy when someone else makes money? Isn't envy a sin?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Boy howdy. Conservatives are apoplectic when people want $15/hour, but seem to have no problem with Bezos making $2000/second. Or Musk claiming to have come from nothing when he was the son of the owners of an apartheid-era emerald mine.

How many people do each of their companies employ? Bezos took a huge risk and it paid off beyond his wildest dreams in ways we can't understand. It has also collared him. I would have sold out and walked away with about $10M, but I've never wanted power or to work long hours. I'd rather spend time with family and friends in comfort.

But I won't hold someone else to my standards either.

Did Musk have any choice who his parents were or where he was born? He certainly took advantage to learn to program as a child at a time when few homes anywhere had a computer. He could have wasted that opportunity, but didn't. Thanks to his Canadian mother, he got a Canadian passport and immigrated to the US after working odd-jobs in Saskatchewan at a lumber mill and farm. Hardly a silver-spoon types of work. He transferred from Canadian University to U-Penn, got a BS (economics) and a BA (physics) there. Bold moves for an African kid. He dropped out of Standford PhD Physics program at the beginning of the internet craze to build internet stuff. I remember those times and knew people like him who were leaving typical computer programming positions at reputable Fortune 50 companies to run startups and code. That wasn't me. I was more cautious and it shows in my net worth.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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