Taxing the rich could save lives, Oxfam reports

Lina B.

Date published: Thu, 20 January 22

The coronavirus pandemic, release of the Pandora Papers, and overall social media discourse have emphasized the wealth inequality present in the world today. In the United States, much of the conversation around wealth inequality revolves around taxation. The rich do not pay their fair share of taxes. 

From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to today, the world’s 10 richest men have doubled their cumulative worth of $700 billion to $1.5 trillion. Oxfam’s executive director Gabriela Bucher said, “If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet.” 

Oxfam argues in a report that a 99% windfall tax on the pandemic gains of the world’s 10 richest men would raise enough money to pay for vaccines around the world, and even finance social measures for more than 80 countries. Although the CEOs of the Moderna and BioNTech (Pfizer) vaccine made billions, vaccines are not readily available around the world. 

The Oxfam report further argues that governments should implement or increase permanent wealth and capital taxes, in order to combat exorbitant wealth inequality. 

Wealth inequality is not only a problem in the US, but a global problem as well. Vaccine apartheid is felt throughout countries in the Global South, who have been unable to access vaccines. The World Health Organization says, “The global failure to share vaccines equitably is taking its toll on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. New variants of concern meant that the risk of infection have increased in all countries for people who are not yet protected by vaccination.” Through vaccine profits and patents, nine new billionaires have been minted at Moderna, BioNTech, and China’s CanSino, with a combined wealth over $19 billion. 

Through the fair and equitable taxation on the world’s rich, vaccine apartheid could end, social services could be funded, and peoples’ lives could be better. However, due to the world’s wealthiest hoarding wealth, taxation laws will require effort, advocacy, and awareness.