The Guardian view on the super-rich: a billion reasons for a wealth tax | Editorial

When America’s richest are paying proportionately less in tax than those struggling from paycheck to paycheck, the tax system demands a radical overhaul

This week, Jeff Bezos announced his plan to become the first billionaire in space. Next month, on the 52nd anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, he will fly about 100 km above the rest of us, see the curve of the Earth and experience a few minutes of weightlessness, before a final descent. As a metaphor for the relationship between the super-rich and everyone else, it does not come much better. What also takes some beating is the justification from the world’s richest person for living out the sci-fi dreams he had as a boy: he has so much money he doesn’t know how to spend it.

“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” he said in 2018. “That is basically it.” To which the possible counter-suggestions might include: pay your workers more. Or perhaps: pay higher taxes. Because the other big bit of Bezos news this week is that in 2007 and 2011 the multi-billionaire did not pay a cent in US federal income tax. He was in good company: in 2018 Elon Musk of Tesla also paid no federal income taxes. Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn and George Soros are also all recent members of the zero club.

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