Tax

Super-Rich Increasingly Under Attack Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Rainer Zitelmann, 4 May 2020

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Doomsday bunkers
In New York, the daily tabloid newspaper NY Post is also busy stirring up envy and resentment against the wealthy: “Most people are stocking up on hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but the super-rich have adopted more extreme measures to ward off the coronavirus - including preparing doomsday bunkers, according to reports.”

For example, “Survival Condo owner Larry Hall bought the obsoleted silo in 2008 and converted it into a state-of-the art residence that offers ‘virtual windows,’ a gym, pool, movie theaters, shooting range and a five-year supply of food and water, according to Vice. ‘The mission is to protect residents from a whole wide range of threats,’ Hall told Vice. ‘Everything from viral or bacterial threats and chemicals to volcanic ash, meteors, solar flares and civil unrest.’ On its website, Survival Condo lists a full-floor suite package for $3 million.”

“This ‘Package’ is much more than just a ‘Survival Condo Unit.’ This ‘Package’ includes mandatory training, a three-year per person food supply, fully furnished and custom designed interior, special equipment for registered members, computer access to condo systems, and much more,” it says.

Germany: anti-capitalist rhetoric
Germany’s left-wing media are clearly laying the blame for the coronavirus on capitalism. Left-wing political parties, such as the SPD and Die Linke, have been beating the political drums for a one-off “corona levy,” i.e. a special tax on the wealthy to finance the battle against COVID-19. The attacks on capitalism have been so strong that even the leading German tabloid BILD was forced to publish a lengthy article to explain to its readers that capitalism is not to blame for the coronavirus.

Also in Germany, the media outlet Der Westen (The West) ran an article under the inflammatory headline: “The Super-rich and the Coronavirus: Billionaires And Their Antisocial Behavior.” The article cites a Twitter message that claimed that the best way for an average American to find out if they have COVID-19 is to cough into a rich person’s face and wait for their victim’s test results. “The coronavirus is affecting us all! Globally! But is everyone suffering equally? No. Because self-isolation, remote working and maintaining a safe, two-meter distance to other people remain the privilege of the wealthy. In the United States, this is amply demonstrated by the upper class hastily fleeing New York and barricading themselves in their summer retreats on the coast, with more space than in the city, less exposure to the coronavirus - and beautiful sea views to boot. And anyone who can afford it is now making their escape by private jet. According to CNBC, demand is booming. What’s more, reports are already pouring in that the country’s richest people are also enjoying preferential access to corona tests.”

The super-rich are being blamed for the crisis
We know from the field of prejudice research that minorities are often scapegoated for major societal problems. Scheduled for publication in May 2020, the international study The Rich in Public Opinion (http://therichinpublicopinion.com/) explores the pervasiveness of prejudices against the rich and people’s general willingness to denounce the wealthy as scapegoats during major crises. At one point in the study, respondents were presented with the following statement: “Those who are very rich and want more and more power, are to blame for many of the major problems in the world financial or humanitarian issues.”

In Germany, 50 per cent of respondents agreed with this statement, followed by 33 per cent in France, 25 per cent in the United States and 21 per cent in Great Britain. However, the following finding was particularly striking: Far more of the study’s “social enviers” agreed with this statement than did “non-enviers.” In the United States, for example, 57 per cent of social enviers blamed the rich for many of the world’s major problems, compared with only 12 per cent of non-enviers. In the other countries, too, agreement among social enviers was far higher than it was among non-enviers (Germany 62 per cent versus 36 per cent, France 46 per cent versus 17 per cent and Great Britain 44 per cent versus 10 per cent). 

About the author:
Dr Rainer Zitelmann is an historian and sociologist. He is also an author, businessman and real estate investor.

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