Billionaires and Vaccines
In the first story of the briefing today, we discuss the huge amount of wealth acquired by the richest men on earth over the course of the pandemic. It should come as no surprise that the richest among us earned even more money than normal during the pandemic – after all, many of them are heads of tech firms. As technology has helped many of us through the last year, it makes sense that the heads of these firms have seen their incomes increase.
However, the scale of this increase in wealth may be something that most people don’t quite comprehend. The NGO Oxfam has suggested that the top 10 wealthiest men on earth have increased their own wealth by a combined £400bn ($540bn). This is enough money to pay for the vaccine for everyone on earth while also paying to stop anyone falling into poverty.
Just to be abundantly clear here – all 10 billionaires would still have all the money they had when they started the pandemic. Stopping everyone falling into poverty and providing a vaccine for everyone would only cost them the amount they’ve earned in the last year.
Let’s expand out the earnings to all billionaires, not just the top 10. Between the 18th March and the end of 2020, the total earnings of this group was £6.9tn ($11.95tn). This is roughly similar to the amount the G20 countries spent on the coronavirus pandemic.
So that’s exactly how much better billionaires can make the world – but what about if we look more closely at their businesses? How could they help their workers if they opted to spend their money. Well, if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos decided to spend his pandemic money on his workers, then each Amazon employee would receive a whopping £77,000 ($105,000).
It should probably be noted that Mr. Bezos gave $125m of his personal wealth to help fight coronavirus. As Oxfam has shown though, this is a drop in the ocean compared to what could be done if billionaires united to help the world through this dreadful pandemic.
Is this their responsibility though, or should they not be expected to contribute. Comment your thoughts below.
£15,000 of COVID Fines
For the second story today, we again talk about the financial element of the coronavirus pandemic. But, instead of discussing people willingly spending money to help ease the pandemic, we discuss people being made to pay money because of their inability to stop the spread of the virus.
We’re discussing coronavirus fines.
In the UK, the police have been stepping up their response to covid rulebreakers in order to increase compliance. Earlier in the pandemic, police were instructed to try and reason with rule-breakers instead of rushing straight to punishment. However, as the situation got worse over winter, police have been instructed to move more quickly to issuing fines.
While there would likely be a debate about how reasonable this is for people unintentionally breaking small coronavirus rules – it’s hard to deny that this is unfair for people intentionally breaking more serious rules, such as those that prohibit gatherings.
This weekend, a group of illegal ravers were caught – gathering under a railway arch. Many of those involved tried to escape, but the police were still able to fine 78 of those in attendance £200 each. In total, the police issued fines totalling £15,000.
One of the police officers involved in issuing such fines, Inspector Steve Barnes, said: “We understand that young people are frustrated at not being able to enjoy themselves and I do feel their pain. But we have to stick to the rules so that we can get back to some sort of normality sooner rather than later”
I think it’s fair to say that most of us share Inspector Barnes’ view.
A Concert in America
In the last story today, we move to the US to discuss a COVID-compliant party – one that didn’t end in the police turning up. As shown in the second story, there is a desire among many portions of the population to get back to live gigs and concerts. However, it seems as though this could be a little while away. After all, how do you see live music while also respecting social distancing rules? Well, the band Flaming Lips seem to think they have figured it out.
They hosted a concert in Oklahoma whereby 100 ‘space bubbles’ were laid out. Up to 3 people can fit in each bubble – which features a water bottle, a hand-held fan and two signs. One indicating that someone needed to be escorted to the bathroom and another saying that cold air was needed in the bubble.
Not only is this a pretty different way to host a concert, it ensures that airborne particles are kept within each bubble. Arguably more importantly, the lead singer was able to stage dive in his bubble on top of the other bubbles – which, let’s face it, is far cooler than a normal stage dive!