In our grossly unequal world the ultra-rich spend their fortune on luxuries while people starve every day
Rabat – Billionaires continue to rake in millions every day while the world faces several crises of hunger, disease, and poverty.
On this May Day, which celebrates working people around the world, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife purchased a plot of land on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii for $53 million. The ultra-rich couple promised to “act responsible” with the 600 acres of lush nature, yet on the same day, hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved with the same amount.
The World Food Programme (WFP), the UN, WHO, and other organizations are begging the global community for money to stop millions from starving in the coming years. “People aren’t starving, they are being starved,” 260 organizations have warned.
Their pleas have been roundly ignored by the world’s ultra-rich who instead continue to hoard their fortunes and spend on personal property and their own aggrandizement.
Not since the ‘gilded age’ of the 1920s has inequality been so severe. The era got its name from Mark Twain who described the era as having a thin golden coating that hid the large-scale social and economic deprivation of most of the world’s population.
Yet at the time, being rich brought with it some responsibility. “The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government,” according to former US President Theodore Roosevelt.
Famous artist Frida Kahlo at the time said, “there is so much wealth and so much misery at the same time, that it seems incredible that people can endure such class difference, and accept such a form of hunger while on the other hand, the millionaires throw away millions on stupidities.”
More than two centuries after the French revolution it appears that global society is again divided between palaces of wealth and splendor while the diseased poor starve outside its gates. The new “aristocracy” comes in the form of a select group of billionaires who have used the tenets of modern capitalism to exploit both our nature and the people of earth.
Now that the world is facing crises not seen since World War II, the ultra-rich are responding by increasingly isolating themselves from normal society by living in gated communities, flying on private planes, and buying large swaths of land to keep the rabble far away.
Forbes data on Friday highlighted that American billionaires alone are now “worth” as much as $4 trillion, while over twenty million Americans have lost their job during the pandemic.
Solving issues such as ending world hunger by 2030 is estimated to cost $330 billion, something US billionaires alone could afford without any impact on their own lifestyle.
Billionaires clearly do not mind that millions of people are starving, or at least don’t see it as their responsibility. The only solution to the immoral behavior of the world’s super-rich appears to be through strong taxation and an end to the idolatry of the ultra-rich.
Solving global inequality simply requires the political will to do so.
Ending the race to the bottom on tax perks offered to companies and billionaires is a start. Cracking down on tax havens where dictators, multinationals and billionaires alike hide their ill-gotten gains at the tune of hundreds of billions annually, is another.
This issue is nothing new, as at the dawn of our modern calendar the Greek philosopher Plutarch stated that, “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
“Poverty is a political choice,” explained the UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston.
In his 2020 reporting he described the “deceptively positive picture” that has allowed a “decade of misplaced triumphalism.” Any existing poverty in a world of unprecedented wealth is simply a result of “longstanding neglect” by “many governments, economists, and human rights advocates,” according to Alston.