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Preview - "Inequality Emergency" Webinar

Tom Burroughes

11 June 2021

Senior figures from the world of banking, finance, philanthropy and policy advocacy address whether the world faces an “inequality emergency” and what to do about it. They gather for a webinar held on 17 June. (To register, click here.)

The COVID-19 lockdowns have boosted the fortunes of some businesses – such as those linked to digital tech - but have also hurt other business owners, workers and families around the world. The sharply contrasting impact of the crisis adds to forces such as rapid technological change and the huge central bank money printing since the 2008 financial crack-up.

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If inequality – on the assumption that it is as severe as claimed – is not addressed, then the political and social fallout will hit all segments of society, including high net worth families, critics argue. (An important area of potential dispute is whether the issue is inequality of outcomes or inequality of opportunity.)

“We have no choice but to end up where we are now, such as with economic, social and political unrest,” Erica Payne, founder of the . 

The webinar is hosted by Rob Cox, global editor and co-founder of Reuters BreakingViews.

Payne spoke to this news service shortly after the G7 nations agreed a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 per cent, and as Washington DC debates US President Joe Biden’s proposed tax increases on HNW US citizens to help fund his multi-trillion spending programmes.

A public policy commentator, author and strategist, Payne’s organisation, The Patriotic Millionaires, represents US HNW citizens who say they worry about the malign impact of concentrated wealth and power in the country. 

Payne said worries about wealth and political inequality aren’t confined to one side of the political aisle. “We work on issues that are wildly popular on a bi-partisan political basis,” she said. “Our specific goal is to reform our country’s political economy, so that it produces results for a stable, inclusive and prosperous society.”

While it is true that the richest US citizens pay a disproportionately high level of federal income tax, the tax burdens they pay in terms of the amount of money they need to live on, are much smaller relative to those on lower incomes, Payne said. 

The complexity of the US tax code is a big issue, she said: “We created complexity to benefit the wealthiest people in the country.”