A number of American billionaires have used the coronavirus pandemic to grow even wealthier than they were before.
In fact, billionaires in the U.S. have increased their wealth by a combined $282 billion, Fast Company reports. That’s a ten percent increase over where the billionaire class stood at the beginning of March — illustrating how the global crisis has furthered global inequality.
Some of that newfound wealth came from how consumer behavior has changed since people found themselves stuck at home during the quarantine.
For instance, the video conferencing software Zoom saw a surge in new users as isolated friends and family sought a way to connect online. As a result, Fast Company reports that Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has personally made $2.58 billion over the past two months.
But market changes alone don’t explain how people like SpaceX CEO Elon Musk or all of how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have walked away with significant increases to their net worth. The rest comes from numerous tax breaks and loopholes, not unlike how Microsoft founder Bill Gates actually grew wealthier after pivoting to largescale philanthropy.
“We’re reading about benevolent billionaires sharing .0001% of their wealth with their fellow humans in this crisis,” inequality researcher Chuck Collins told Fast Company, “but in fact they’ve been rigging the tax rules to reduce their taxes for decades — money that could have been spent building a better public health infrastructure.”
READ MORE: American billionaires have gotten $280 billion richer since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic [Fast Company]
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