Who gets richer in a crisis?

Dmitry Kosyrev

Interesting figures: during the pandemic disaster from March 2020 to March 2022, a new billionaire appeared in the world every 30 hours, that is, 573 people appeared during this period. Not quite a piece per day, rather, in 1.3 days, but let’s not waste time on trifles.
And already this year, in the same world, 263 million people are expected to plunge into absolute poverty: a million every 33 hours. At the same time, the ten richest people on the planet have more money than the “bottom” 40 percent of the population, that is, 3.1 billion people.
Let’s make all the necessary reservations and clarifications: who issued such assessments and why. They are from OXFAM, an international organization working in 90 countries and fighting against poverty. Yes, this is an idealistic office whose employees are passionate about simple leftist ideas. Yes, 2022 is far from over, and not 263 million people, but, say, 200 or even 100 million people may become poor: games with statistics, especially projected into the future, are a well-known thing. But as for the billionaires, everything is for sure, this is already an established fact.
Why is the document needed? And it was being prepared for the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos. That is, a gathering of billionaires, where government officials are invited to explain to them how to live. OXFAM may have wanted the audience to be ashamed. Well, we said that we are talking about an organization where many of the participants suffer from idealism.
As predicted, the current Davos has not become a breakthrough of global intelligence – it was almost entirely devoted to talking about how badly Russia is behaving in Ukraine. And no one in the world especially noticed these conversations, because they did not contain anything new. Except for the fact that Davos also broke through – in the form of a speech by the patriarch of global diplomacy Henry Kissinger – the idea that suddenly became fashionable: it is necessary to persuade Kiev not only to start negotiations with Moscow, but also to cede some territories to it (apparently, those that have actually not been Ukrainian).
In general, the forum was not a success, but about the news about the fresh harvest of billionaires – then circles went on the water. For example, in a commentary from the Hong Kong South China Morning Post, the author is Alex Lo, a “global Chinese” who has worked as a journalist in various places. He says: history does not teach people anything, they may not repeat the same mistakes, but they make new ones. And now we are sitting face to face with the international financial system, which has always been supported by multimillionaires at the slightest crisis – and at the expense of most of humanity.
Namely, it is necessary to fill the fire with empty money, bail out corporations from the “too big to fail” category (they are most often the culprits of economic problems) – and let the smaller companies suffer along with the workers. As a result, every crisis is now a chance for those who have capital to enrich themselves even more.
If anyone thinks this left-wing Chinese is offering some grandiose solution, you’re in for a disappointment. He says: for the su-per-rich, it is necessary to establish a special tax – up to 90 percent, that is, take away their money. And this opinion has been heard m-any times before, and even similar taxes were introduced in the UK and other European countries, but they didn’t get rid of crises, but only destroyed the eco-nomy, and everyone turned out to be poor. But it is imp-ossible not to offer it aga-in. By the way, what does the OXFAM document recommend? Almost nothing, except for the good observation that the medical (are you surprised?), oil and gas and food industries brought the most money to multimillionaires during this period. Is that why the prices of all products in these sectors have now skyrocketed? Anyone else want to make some money too? Well, in addition, OXFAM proposes – on a global scale – the very tax on super-wealth. To distribute money to the poor. But will this money exist then, or will something “suddenly” happen to them?
The benefits of such statistics, of course, are considerable: they show the scale of the problem and give rise to comparisons. The fact is that there are many similar periods in the history of mankind (which teaches nothing, we recall). One of the most striking episodes is the “Jazz Age”, which lasted only ten years, from 1918 (the end of World War I) to 1929 (the beginning of the Great Depression in the USA, which affected, if not the whole world, then most of it part, for example, all colonies of greedy powers).
Ten years lasted a continuous series of dances and pleasures. Not everyone had money, but the inhabitants of the countries of the “golden billion” – for sure. Millionaires (then the equivalent of today’s billionaires) sprang up everywhere. Although the rest were doing well. There were many nightclubs in New York, and next to them there were tailcoat and evening dress rentals, without which they were not allowed into the clubs. Almost everyone could feel like a millionaire for at least one evening. If you want to see that era, it couldn’t be easier: there are many films about it with Charlie Chaplin. By the way, there was a place for the poor, and for the very poor.
Well, we know what happened shortly after that frantic decade, which war ended the Great Depression. And so now everyone understands that something is wrong with the system again – everyone agrees here and is waiting for big trouble.
Does this look like what is happening today? Not really. The current global crisis seems to be reminiscent of the First World War (military actions, a global revolution of values and a pandemic), but events unfold in a different sequence: starting with a pandemic, and not ending with it. And, accordingly, today’s emergence of an unprecedented number of billionaires also does not follow the same scenario as a century ago. But who said that history is obliged not only to repeat itself, but to go through all the stages of a general collapse in the same order as before?

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