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Billionaires Add $1 Trillion To Their Net Worth As Millions Of Their Workers Struggle For Survival 

Throughout the timeline of the pandemic alone, billionaires in the US have collectively increased their net worth by more than $1 trillion. Many of these billionaire’s US workers, on the other hand, have been struggling to deal with unsafe working conditions that leave them susceptible to potential infection, and without hazard pay or any increase in compensation for working in a pandemic, many have been struggling for survival. 

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder, added more than $70 billion to his new worth during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing his total net worth up to $185 billion. Workers at Amazon and Amazon-owned grocery chain Whole Foods have spent a majority of the pandemic protesting against the unsafe working conditions they’re being forced to work in, and the endless pressures from management to keep up with the overwhelming demand. 

Several workers who have participated or led protests at Amazon over working conditions specifically have alleged that they were fired as a result of their efforts to receive basic level safety. Profits and stockholder shares for the company have increased by billions of dollars throughout 2020, however, Amazon only provided a small fraction of those extra earnings in hazard pay and bonuses for workers on the frontline actually risking their lives everyday to further fill Bezos’ pockets. 

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In fact, Amazon ended all hazard pay back in June 2020, and instead has provided workers with sporadic one-time bonuses. On average workers have seen about a 99 cent increase in their paycheck during the pandemic, for comparison, Bezos earns about $11.7 million every single hour. 

“It’s infuriating that we live in fear every day because of minimal efforts to protect us, while executives take in tons of money while sitting safely at home.”

An anonymous employee working for Amazon recently spoke with the media about the conditions, and chose to keep their identity a secret out of fear that they would be left unemployed and with no source of income. “What they considered hazard pay was just for show. We couldn’t see a difference unless we were willing to work almost 60 hours a week. Several of us had no choice because we’re the breadwinners of our family.”

Jessica Oneto was a Whole Foods employee in California who quit in October 2020 partially due to the working conditions management was forcing upon its employees throughout the pandemic. 

“They gave us hazard pay for maybe a couple months. It was only $2 and they literally took it away as the pandemic got worse. One of the biggest companies couldn’t afford to keep it up?”

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Elon Musk, owner of Tesla Motors, earned an additional $140 billion throughout the pandemic, making him the wealthiest person in the world with a total net worth of $195 billion. Workers for Tesla have been subject to multiple factory Covid outbreaks, and unsafe conditions brought on by Musk himself, who defied local shutdown orders by reopening his plants and resuming factory production. 

Musk even went as far as to threaten his employees if they didn’t also defy the state lockdown orders by sending out an email that implied they would lose unemployment benefits if they didn’t show up to work and risk infection. At least two workers were fired for not showing up due to the fact that they were immunocompromised and worried about getting sick. 

“While people in cubicles stay home to work, we can’t do that and we don’t get any hazard pay/ Nothing has changed. Musk can afford to do so much more and he doesn’t. I find it sickening to see how much Elon Musk’s wealth has grown while we take all the risks. All we get is a ‘thank you so much’ email,” said a Tesla employee at the Fremont plant who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. 

Another Fremont employee cited ongoing mistreatment toward Black workers at Tesla specifically: “Musk has not once addressed this issue in his workplace or supported Black Lives Matter. No hazard pay or bonus. They gave all regular workers their regular raise, but being that I’m maxed out at my position I didn’t get anything.”

As the old saying goes the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and this global health crisis has truly exemplified that. The only positive that workers have seen come out of these obscene billionaire wealth increases is how much more it’s being discussed now. The power of social media has created a large conversation over how America specifically runs, and why it allows this handful of white men to hoard so much wealth while millions of Americans are on the brink of complete homelessness.

Bill Gates And Panel Of Over 150 Medical Experts Calls On US To Shut Down Amid Pandemic Concerns

The US has now hit 4 million positive cases of Covid-19, prompting medical experts to call on the government to shut down again. There have been 4,038,748 positive cases of the coronavirus in the US since March with 144,304 deaths; and those numbers are consistently increasing.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Bill Gates Says We’ll Get A Coronavirus Vaccine In ‘As Little As 9 Months’

Bill Gates has been heavily involved in the coronavirus pandemic through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, alongside his wife, which has pledged up to $100 million to go towards Covid-19 relief.

COVID-19 with American Flag

Bill Gates Has Given Over $100 Million To Fund COVID-19 Treatments

The focus on the foundation has always been to improve on impoverished individuals health and wellbeing in order to lift them out of a life of danger that stripped them of any access to basic human needs.

Microsoft

Following Criticism, Elizabeth Warren Offers to Speak with Bill Gates

Bill Gates, who is known not only for his humanitarian work and his pioneering role at Microsoft but for having amassed massive amounts of wealth, recently sat down with columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times DealBook Conference to discuss matters of finance, philanthropy, and politics. In response to a question about taxation on wealthy individuals, Bill Gates said that he had paid over $10 billion in taxes, and that he’d be happy to pay $20 billion, but he is skeptical of tax rates higher than that. Gates insinuated that under Warren’s plan, he’d have to pay $100 billion in taxes, which he considered unacceptable. (He clarified that he meant that statement as a joke immediately after.) The interviewer then asked Gates if he had ever spoken with Warren about the topic, and he replied that he hadn’t, and that he didn’t know whether she’d be willing to “sit down with somebody, you know, who has large amounts of money.”

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Gates’ comment about Warren’s tax plan, as well his comments about the election more generally, received a lot of attention in the media, potentially damaging Warren’s campaign. In response, Elizabeth Warren tweeted yesterday that she’d be happy to sit down with Gates, and that she’d “love to explain exactly how much [he’d] pay under [her] wealth tax.” She promised him it wouldn’t be $100 billion. Gates responded to Warren’s tweets by applauding her commitment to proposing solutions to many of the world’s greatest problems, including climate change and global poverty, and said that he respected her ambition despite their disagreements. Gates added that he’s “always willing to talk about creative solutions to these problems,” suggesting a conversation between the two may be in the works.

Gates is one of several billionaires who has recently expressed doubts about tax plans like Warren’s

Gates, who said during the recent interview that he wasn’t going to make any “political declarations,” stated nonetheless that he is likely to vote for the more “professional” candidate. This comment was criticized as a tacit endorsement of Trump, as many commentators felt that it should have been easy for Gates to denounce the sitting president. However, Gates is known for choosing not to give political endorsements, as he doesn’t want to influence the political process in that way. In fact, Gates’ preference for the more “professional” candidate could easily be read as an implicit criticism of Trump, who defies conventions of professionalism at every opportunity.

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If Warren’s tax plan were passed into law, Gates’ taxes would surely go up, though not to the levels he suggested. Under Warren’s plan, fortunes over $1 billion would be taxed at 6%. As Gates is worth roughly $107 billion, this would mean he’d pay at least an additional $6.42 billion in taxes, a far cry from the $100 billion tax he joked about. Nevertheless, while Gates asserted that he supports progressive tax policies, he voiced skepticism and concern about Warren’s plans specifically, asserting he’d prefer “a middle-ground approach.” Notably, Sanders’ tax plan was not discussed, even though his plan calls for even greater taxes on the wealthy than Warren’s does. Perhaps a more significant source of disagreement between the two results from Warren’s proposal to break up big tech companies, which Gates opposes, though he has admitted his bias in favor of Microsoft.

Gates is one of several billionaires who has recently expressed doubts about tax plans like Warren’s; the prospect of paying more taxes drove one billionaire to tears on CNBC, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon worried that Warren “vilifies successful people,” and expressed concern about her use of “harsh” language.