Millionaires asking governments to make them pay taxes. The world upside down? Solidarity, social conscience, or simply want to survive in a world with unprecedented inequality in the history of humanity?
Yesterday a photo circulated of an activist demonstrating in front of the Davos Forum headquarters, holding a cardboard banner where he had handwritten “Tax the rich”. So far nothing strange, the annual meeting in Davos is always used by social and environmental groups to denounce capitalist inequality.
The news was that the activist who called for taxes for the rich is… a rich man. Phil White, a British millionaire, retired former business consultant. He went to Davos to ask, demand, almost beg, that governments tax him and his kind.
It’s not the only one. Also in Davos, 200 millionaires – most of them American and British, no Spaniards – have signed a letter asking them to tax their wealth: “Tax me now!”, “Make me pay taxes now!”. They call themselves ” Patriotic Millionaires “.
So do the “Millionaires for Humanity”, fifty rich Germans who ask their government to review tax laws; and similar groups have arisen in other countries -not in Spain, that is known-.
The world upside down? It turns out that the mega-rich were not those big-bellied men with a top hat and cigar that always appear in cartoons, but caring people, with a social conscience, eager to share their fortune with humanity? Well, let’s not run so much.
If one looks at the profile of the rich in solidarity, they are not exactly little sisters of charity. Behind every fortune, a crime, as the classic said. At the head of the Patriotic Millionaires, for example, is Morris Pearl, who was previously managing director of Blackrock, which you will know is not an NGO: the largest investment fund in the world.
Then? What do those rich people want by asking to pay taxes? Do they laugh at us? Do they wash away their bad conscience from the peace of mind that it will not end up happening? Are they up to something, is it a genius plan to make even more money?
I will tell you what you are looking for: survival. Let us not eat them. Because if the “Tax the rich” does not succeed, another old motto may come after it: “Eat the rich”. “Eat the rich”, inspired by an apocryphal phrase, attributed to Rousseau and linked to the French Revolution: “When people have nothing to eat, they will eat the rich”.
Those conscientious millionaires must watch Netflix and other platforms. They are not oblivious to how the rich have become the frequent object of ridicule, scam, robbery, punishment and revenge, if not humiliation, torture and murder, in popular movies and series.
How class rancor and hatred of the privileged become commonplace in popular culture. Especially among the youngest, who applaud, go viral and create memes every time a millionaire gets what he deserves in a movie or series. “Fuck the rich! Parasites!”
They are also familiar with the reports that in recent years warn of the brutal increase in inequality in the world. This same week Oxfam remembered it , precisely in Davos: the 1% of the richest have kept two thirds of the wealth generated in the world during the pandemic.
99% of the population poorly distribute the remaining third. The fortunes of megamillionaires are growing at a rate of $2.7 billion a day. In the case of Spain, the wealth of our 26 billionaires has increased by almost three million euros a day since the start of the pandemic. By contrast, I don’t need to remind you of what’s been going on with our purchasing power lately.
The World Economic Forum Report on Global Risks has been presented at the Davos Forum itself. A survey of political, business and financial leaders from all over the planet, and which this year points to the cost of living crisis as the main short-term risk.
The rest of the threats have to do with the climate emergency above all. If we combine both risks, a climate crisis with more and more extreme episodes, and inequality like there has never been before in humanity, with an increasingly impoverished population and the main victim of a climate crisis (to which, by the way, the mega-rich), the result is a time bomb. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…
I guess being a billionaire with that shitty scene is not cool at all. Having so much money to end up locked in a bunker, not leaving the urbanization, having to spend more on private security, or end up emigrating to space -the techno-utopian fantasy of some millionaires-, all for fear of being eaten by the feet, is not is what one wants. Neither for him, nor for his heirs who will continue to be rich. Better pay taxes.
Meanwhile, in the land of freedom, aka Comunidad de Madrid, its heroic president will bring to the Constitutional Court the modest Temporary Solidarity Tax that the government has set for great fortunes. Her plan is for the people of Madrid to eat freedom.