Oxfam report: Pandemic causes more social inequality

Status: 01/17/2022 02:13 am

The coronavirus pandemic has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. The Oxfam organization is calling for governments around the world to take countermeasures. In Germany, too, the wealthy should be made more responsible.

The corona pandemic is exacerbating social inequality worldwide. This is the conclusion of the emergency aid and development organization Oxfam in a report that it published shortly before the start of the digital conference of the World Economic Forum. While the wealth of the ten richest billionaires doubled between March 2020 and November 2021, more than 160 million people lived in poverty. Oxfam called on governments around the world to tax corporations and the super-rich more heavily to fund basic social services, ensure global immunization justice and align the economy with the common good.

Inequality is also a matter of life and death, they say in the report. An estimated 17 million people have died from Covid-19. Of them, nine million could still be alive if they had been vaccinated. The Oxfam report blames the unfair global vaccine distribution, among other things. The organization explains that the vaccines should be treated as a public good, partly because governments have funded their development with large amounts of tax money.

“For billionaires, the pandemic is like a gold rush”

According to the study, more than 100 countries cut social spending during the crisis and at least 73 countries are threatened with further austerity measures with the repayment of Covid-19 loans from the International Monetary Fund. Women in particular are left behind, with 13 million fewer employed than two years ago. At the same time, the unpaid work of women and girls who, for example, take care of the family, has increased significantly.

“For billionaires, the pandemic is like a gold rush. Governments have pumped billions into the economy, but much of it has stuck with people who stand to benefit most from rising stock prices. As their wealth grows at an unprecedented rate and some embark on space trips, global poverty has increased drastically,” says Manuel Schmitt, officer for social inequality at Oxfam Germany. This refers to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg.

Align the economy with the common good

Oxfam is therefore calling on governments around the world to tax corporations and the super-rich more heavily and use the income generated from this for basic social services. The economy must be geared towards the common good. In the foreword to the Oxfam report, American documentary filmmaker and heiress Abigail Disney writes: “The billionaires alone have made an astronomical amount of money in the past two years – they can easily afford to pay more.”

In Germany, too, the “very strong concentration of assets” is also increasing. The ten richest people have increased their assets since the beginning of the pandemic from the equivalent of around 125 billion euros to around 223 billion euros, and thus by around 78 percent. This profit corresponds approximately to the total wealth of the poorest 40 percent, i.e. 33 million Germans. The poverty rate in Germany has meanwhile reached a high of around 16 percent and more than 13 million people.

Federal government to reintroduce wealth tax

Oxfam Germany called on the federal government to make corporations and the very wealthy more responsible. Wealth tax must be reintroduced and a one-time levy on very large assets is needed. Patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines must be suspended.

The annual conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos planned for this week had been postponed due to the Corona situation. Instead, the foundation brings top politicians together digitally, so Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to give a speech on Wednesday. According to Oxfam, it is an international emergency aid and development organization that mobilizes people around the world to overcome poverty through their own efforts. 21 Oxfam organizations are working together with around 4,100 local partners in 90 countries.

With information from Kathrin Hondl, ARD-Studio Geneva.

“Inequality kills”: Oxfam criticizes the “profit logic of our economy” and calls for more taxes for corporations and the super-rich

Kathrin Hondl, ARD Geneva, 17.1.2022 00:42 a.m


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