Millionaires have joined protests in Davos, Switzerland, against the World Economic Forum gathering of the business and political elite, demanding that governments "tax us now" to address the widening gap between rich and poor.
The unlikely protesters, who describe themselves as "patriotic millionaires," called on world leaders attending the annual meeting on Sunday to impose new taxes on the wealthy immediately in order to address the "cost of living scandal" that is affecting multiple countries around the world.
Rising inequality, according to Oxfam, could push 263 million more people into extreme poverty by 2022, reversing decades of progress.
"While the rest of the world is collapsing under the weight of an economic crisis, billionaires and world leaders meet in this private compound to discuss turning points in history," Phil White, a former business consultant and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, said.
"It’s outrageous that our political leaders listen to those who have the most, know the least about the economic impact of this crisis, and many of whom pay infamously little in taxes. The only credible outcome from this conference is to tax the richest and tax us now. Tax the delegates attending Davos 2022 ."
The protest comes as it was revealed that the UK now has a record 177 billionaires, worth a total of £653 billion.
At the same time, rising food and energy costs are expected to push more than 250,000 UK households into poverty next year. According to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, unless the government acts to assist the poorest families hit by the massive increase in energy prices, the total number of people living in extreme poverty will rise to around 1.2 million (NIESR).
Another "patriotic millionaire" at the rally, Marlene Engelhorn, said the only way to address "gross inequality" was for governments to "tax me, tax the rich."
"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life, I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said Engelhorn, an heir to the founders of the BASF chemical company who co-founded the #taxmenow initiative."I feel there is no option left for us other than to take action."
"Our governments continue to do nothing to address gross inequality and instead meet behind closed doors in this spectacle of private wealth. We have hit the end of the line when another quarter of a billion people will be pushed into extreme poverty this year. It’s time to rebalance the world. It’s time to tax the rich. "
"Working together, restoring trust" is the theme of this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, which is the first in-person gathering in more than two years due to the pandemic.
"You don’t win people’s trust by holding events like Davos, where the world’s rich and powerful meet behind layers of security," Djaffar Shalchi, a Danish multimillionaire engineer and property developer, said."The most significant thing Davos participants could do to actually win people’s trust is to acknowledge that the wealth and privilege they represent and protect, is incompatible with a world where everyone can live full and prosperous lives."
By fLEXI tEAM