When 26 billionaires possess the same wealth as half the world’s population, something isn’t right.
A wealth tax should be imposed on billionaires to diminish social inequality. Candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have proposed tax plans that would bring in trillions of revenue for the government and still leave billionaires with hefty salaries and bank accounts. Taxes on the extremely wealthy would not only be effective in redistributing immense amounts of money, but would also incentivize billionaires not to hoard their wealth in the first place.
Left on their own, billionaires are unlikely to give away the majority of their wealth to philanthropy — fewer than 200 of the 2,200 billionaires in the world have signed the Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates, to donate the majority of their money to charity. Billionaires have immense power with their fortunes: they could end homelessness in the United States if each billionaire donated only 14 percent of their net worth, and they could solve world hunger several times over. Billionaires have the power to solve development problems and improve thousands of lives, but many instead choose to keep money they will never use.
Some may counter my argument with the notion that billionaires earned their money and should be entitled to keep it. However, billionaires made their fortunes with aid from their employees, who did not necessarily get paid the full economic value of their work. Amazon is known for exploiting its workers through technology that monitors workers’ time off and expecting employees to be as productive as robots. All the while, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos could spend $100 million a year without his fortune running out for 1,140 years. Additionally, this argument does not acknowledge that many billionaires inherited their money rather than earned it, such as the three descendants of Walmart founder Sam Walton who possess three top-20 spots on Forbes’ world billionaires list.
Billionaires should not exist, and a wealth tax is imperative to end the extreme disparity between the affluent and the poor. Billionaires are enabling social inequality by hoarding their money. But if they genuinely want to do good in the world, they too will support a wealth tax.
Brammhi Balarajan (23C) is from Las Vegas.