Disney heiress and actor Mark Ruffalo among ‘patriotic millionaires’ who addressed world’s elite at Davos
More than 200 members of the super-rich elite are calling on governments around the world to “tax us, the ultra rich, now” in order to help billions of people struggling with cost of living crisis.
The group of 205 millionaires and billionaires, including the Disney heiress Abigail Disney and The Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo, on Wednesday called on world leaders and business executives meeting in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) to urgently introduce wealth taxes to help tackle “extreme inequality”.
“The current lack of action is gravely concerning. A meeting of the ‘global elite’ in Davos to discuss ‘cooperation in a fragmented world’ is pointless if you aren’t challenging the root cause of division,” they said in an open letter published on Wednesday. “Defending democracy and building cooperation requires action to build fairer economies right now – it is not a problem that can be left for our children to fix.
“Now is the time to tackle extreme wealth; now is the time to tax the ultra rich.”
In the letter entitled “the cost of extreme wealth”, the millionaires, from 13 countries, said: “The history of the last five decades is a story of wealth flowing nowhere but upwards. In the last few years, this trend has greatly accelerated …The solution is plain for all to see. You, our global representatives, have to tax us, the ultra rich, and you have to start now.”
The super-rich signatories, who brand themselves as “patriotic millionaires”, warned that inaction could lead to a catastrophe. “There’s only so much stress any society can take, only so many times mothers and fathers will watch their children go hungry while the ultra rich contemplate their growing wealth. The cost of action is much cheaper than the cost of inaction – it’s time to get on with the job.”
It comes as new research shows that almost two-thirds of the new wealth amassed since the start of the pandemic has gone to the richest 1%. The development charity Oxfam found that the best-off had pocketed $26tn (£21tn) in new wealth up to the end of 2021. That represented 63% of the total new wealth, with the rest going to the remaining 99% of people.
Oxfam said for the first time in a quarter of a century the rise in extreme wealth was being accompanied by an increase in extreme poverty, and called for new taxes to be levied on the super-rich.
Oxfam said a tax of up to 5% on the world’s multimillionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7tn a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty, and fund a global plan to end hunger.
Marlene Engelhorn, a multimillionaire heiress, co-founder of campaign group taxmenow, and a signatory of the letter, said: “The whole world – economists and millionaires alike – can see the solution that is staring us all right in the face: we have to tax the ultra rich. If we care about the safety of democracy, about our communities, and our planet we have to get this done. And yet our decision-makers either don’t have the gumption or don’t feel the need to listen to all of these voices. It begs the question, ‘What, or who, is stopping them?’”