Over 200 millionaires are urging the elites present at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos to “stand back against extreme wealth” and “tax the ultra-rich” to help ease the cost of living burden on ordinary households.
The Patriotic Millionaires — self-described as “a group of wealthy Americans who share deep concerns about America’s destabilizing levels of inequality” — called for similar action in their campaign last year.
“Tax the ultra-rich and do it now,” the group urges Wednesday in a new Cost of Extreme Wealth open letter, also endorsed by PMUK, Tax Me Now and Millionaires for Humanity. “It’s simple, sensible economics. It’s an investment in our common good and a better future that we all deserve, and as millionaires, we want to make that investment,” it said.
The message warns of an “age of extremes” marked by rising poverty, wealth inequality, anti-democratic nationalism, poor environmental conditions and dwindling opportunities for average workers to earn a living.
The letter questions the World Economic Forum’s mission in the absence of concrete action:
“The current lack of action is deeply concerning. A meeting of the ‘global elite’ in Davos to discuss ‘working together in a fragmented world’ is pointless unless you question the root cause of the division. Defending democracy and building cooperation require action to build fairer economies now – it is not a problem we can leave to our children.”
The campaign has 206 signers from 12 countries, including Abigail Disney, heiress to the multimedia entertainment empire, and actor Mark Ruffalo.
“Extreme wealth is eating our world alive. It’s undermining our democracies, destabilizing our economies and destroying our climate,” Disney said. “But for all their talk about solving the world’s problems, the Davos attendees refuse to talk about the only thing that can really make a difference – taxing the rich.”
She criticized: “I was in Davos. I’ve sat in the same room with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world as they talked about how they can make a difference, so I can say this firsthand – Davos is a farce. Until Davos attendees start talking about taxing the rich, the entire gathering will remain a very public example of just how far away they really are.”
CNBC has reached out to the Davos World Economic Forum for comment.
A study conducted by Patriotic Millionaires finds that a progressive annual wealth tax — modeled at 2% for those with $5 million in wealth, 3% for those with $50 million net worth, and 5% for the ultra-rich with more than US$1 billion – could have raised over US$1.7 trillion in 2022.
The world’s richest 1% have amassed nearly two-thirds of all new global wealth over the past two years, amassing $26 trillion out of $42 trillion created over that period, Oxfam found in a recent report.
Households around the world are struggling to keep up with rising costs amid the Covid-19 pandemic, monetary tightening and fuel price hikes fueled by sanctions on Russia’s energy supply. Only one leader of the global economic Group of Seven – Chancellor Olaf Scholz – was due to attend negotiations in Davos this week as several of his peers grapple with the cost of living crisis.