On Monday, Socialist Extraordinaire Bernie Sanders decided to issue a statement once again attacking the wealthiest people on Earth and accusing them of forming a “global oligarchy.”
Writing for CNN, Sanders started with his usual condemnation of the 1%: "Here in the United States, the top one-tenth of 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. Incredibly, according to a recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies, three of the richest people in America — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett — now own more wealth than the bottom 160 million people in our country.”
Hmm. Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft. As far back as 2007, research showed Microsoft-related activities were responsible for 14.7 million jobs, 42% of total IT employment globally, as well as over $514 billion in tax revenue worldwide.
Bezos, the founder of Amazon? As TIME reported in September:
In June, Amazon employed 382,400, up from 268,900 the year before, according to its quarterly financial reports. That translates into roughly 113,500 net new hires in the past 12 months.To put that in context: If Amazon were a U.S. state, it would rank fourth in terms of job creation over that time frame — after Texas, California, Florida, and New York, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and just edging out Georgia.
Sanders fulminated some more:
But this is clearly not just an American issue. It is a global issue. While millions of people throughout the world live in dire poverty, without clean drinking water, adequate health care, decent housing, or education for their kids, the six wealthiest people in the world as ranked by Forbes Magazine own more wealth, according to Oxfam, than the bottom half of the world's population, 3.6 billion people.
This massive level of wealth and income inequality, and the political power associated with that wealth, is an issue that cannot continue be ignored. We must fight back.
Sanders cited the so-called Paradise Papers, which illuminated how corporations and wealthy people utilize tax-minimization strategies. He charges, "Needless to say, these billionaires are all strong supporters of our military, our veterans, our infrastructure, our schools and other government services. They would just prefer that you pay for those activities, not them."
Uh-huh. Gates is investing $1.7 billion more in the public school system, in addition to the $3.4 billion he has already invested; Bezos had given $10 million donation to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to help search for a cure for cancer, and $20 million for more immunotherapy research. Gates and Buffett signed the Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of their wealth.
The essence of oligarchy is that the billionaire class is never satisfied with what they have. They want more, more and more — no matter what impact their efforts have on working people, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor. Greed is their religion.
And then, of course, segueing to attacking President Trump:
While the oligarchs are avoiding their taxes, Trump and his Republican colleagues, ostensibly in order to save federal dollars, have been trying to throw tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance, and make massive cuts in education, nutrition assistance and affordable housing.
Sanders quotes the leftist think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities stating roughly half of the benefits in the Trump/Republican tax plan would go to the top 1%.
One question: would the man who owns three houses and gave, with his wife, roughly 4% of his income to charity in 2015, half the percentage of income to charity that even Hillary Clinton did, like to step up to the plate and pledge half of his wealth to charity, a la Gates and Buffett?