Home Economics Nope, Billionaires Didn't Make Out Like Bandits This Year

Nope, Billionaires Didn’t Make Out Like Bandits This Year

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I’ve been waiting to see this particular little statistic start to morph. As these little statistics have a habit of doing. This first violater here is Arwa Mahdawi in The Guardian.

It’s not all doom and gloom. While the poor are getting poorer, the 1% are making out like bandits. America’s 600-plus billionaires saw their wealth grow by more than $700bn (£525bn) in the first few months of the pandemic, according to an analysis by the progressive non-profit Americans for Tax Fairness.

No, that’s not what that report actually says. That report is here.

What it does say is that since March 18th the wealth of those billionaires has risen by that amount. And as we know stock markets are forward looking. They fell as it became clear that there was something out there, as it turned out to be fatal and expensive but not civilisation destroying they rose again.

Like this:

Note that they’re so damn stupid they didn’t even manage to catch the bottom of the market for their calculations.

What they’ve done is entirely ignore the losses at the beginning and only count the recovery since. Which is one of those little things that would lead us to mutter something about damn liars.

To which we’ve got to add the Mahdawi elision of not even – as even Bernie Sanders does for Gawd’s Sake – mentioning the starting date of the calculation. It now becomes a more airy in the first few months which isn’t correct at all. As the pandemic was hitting China they were losing money, not making it.

Our gamine correspondent piles on the stupidity of course:

Billionaires shouldn’t exist in the first place – the idea that they should be taxed at a higher rate during a pandemic to help subsidise healthcare shouldn’t be remotely controversial.

Which makes it rather odd that every economist looks rather askance at the taxation of wealth. Even Joe Stiglitz – yep, that one – has to his name a paper arguing that the correct tax on capital is zero and in certain circumstances should be negative. And optimal tax theory says taxing wealth is a very bad idea indeed. Odd how something all the experts think is a bad idea shouldn’t be even remotely controversial, right?

We are teetering on the edge of a devastating global depression that could see 60 million people around the world pushed into extreme poverty. At a time like this why on earth would anyone argue against billionaires paying their fair share? The Useful Idiot theory might help explain it.

Useful idiots, yes, there is that. Such as that several of those billionaires – Zuckerberg comes strongly to mind in fact – have made their piles by providing things to the absolutely poor of the world. Like, in Zuck’s case free telecoms to 2.5 billion people, something that has aided the climb out of absolute poverty for many of them.

Seriously, when will these people wake up to the real basics here. Economists – the experts here – say that wealth taxes make the world poorer – this is not a good way of alleviating poverty.

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expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
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2. to wipe out or destroy

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