What do Disney heirs Abigail and Tim Disney, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield, and over 80 other millionaires from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe have in common?
These millionaires are asking their governments to tax them more to help the world recover from the destruction caused by the coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) pandemic.
Siblings Abigail and Tim Disney are the grandchildren of the late Roy O. Disney, co-founder of Disneyland along with his younger brother Walt Disney. Greenfield, on the other hand, is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Homemade Holdings, Inc., a company known worldwide for its ice cream products.
Millionaires for Humanity
“Today, we, the undersigned millionaires, ask our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently.,” said these millionaires, in a petition signed under the name “Millionaires for Humanity”.
Millionaires for Humanity is a project co-organized by Bridging Ventures, Club of Rome, Human Act, Oxfam International, Patriotic Millionaires, and Tax Justice UK.
The petitioners said millionaires like them have a critical role to play in healing the world. While they are not the ones caring for the sick, driving ambulances, restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food, “we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now…and in the years ahead as our world recovers from this crisis.”
“Humanity is more important than our money. So please. Tax us. Tax us. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice,” the petitioners said.
A total of 83 millionaires who have signed up the petition to be taxed, recognized that the long-lasting impact of the crisis brought by COVID-19 could push half a billion more people into poverty.
Among the signatories are Claire and Sylvie Trottier of the Trottier Family Foundation based in Montreal, Canada. The Foundation’s current assets is more or less $164 million as of 2017. The family, which owns Matrox, is into the production of video card components and other computer equipment.
New Zealand’s millionaires
The Warehouse Group founder Sir Stephen Robert Tindall is also a signatory to the Millionaires for Humanity. Tindall is said to be worth $655 million.
“Hundreds of millions of people will lose their jobs as businesses close, some permanently. Already, there are nearly a billion children out of school, many with no access to the resources they need to continue their learning. And of course the absence of hospital beds, protective masks, and ventilators is a painful, daily reminder of the inadequate investment made in public health systems across the world.”
The petitioners said the problems caused by COVID-19 cannot be solved with even the most generous charity. Thus, government leaders must take the responsibility for raising much-need funds and spend them fairly.
“We can ensure we adequately fund our health systems, schools, and security through a permanent tax increase on the wealthiest people on the planet, people like us.”
The petitioners said they “owe a huge debt to the people working on the frontlines of this global battle.”
They recognized the gross underpayment of most essential workers compared to the burden they carry.
“At the vanguard of this fight are our health care workers, 70 percent of whom are women. They confront the deadly virus each day at work, while bearing the majority of responsibility for unpaid work at home.”
Oxfam’s Time to Care report, which was published in January this year, took note of the uncontrollable economic inequality, with “2,150 billionaires possessing more wealth” compared to the 4.6 billion poor people in the planet.
Oxfam is a group of 20 independent charitable organizations that aims to alleviate global poverty.
Oxfam’s report shows how taxing the richest one percent of the world at only 0.5% in the 10 years could generate investments that would lead to 117 million jobs in various sectors including health, education and care for the elderly.
Denmark’s Djaffar Shalchi, one of the signatories of the Millionaires for Humanity, said the richest have to pay their fair share of tax “if we want fairer, more equal and happier societies.”
“When a billionaire is paying a lower rate of tax than their secretary, something is deeply wrong with society.”
Shalchi, founder and chairman of the board of the Human Act Foundation, was born in Iran and had very humble beginnings before he decided to start his own company if he wants to fulfil his dreams of giving back to the world.
The Human act Foundation is an initiative to mobilize at least one percent of the world’s super rich to attain sustainable development goals.
“Just a 1% tax on billionaire wealth for example could raise billions
to fight global poverty and reduce inequality,” he said.