Meet the Pandemic Profiteers
Menard, Hendricks, Kohler among top 100 plutocrats getting richer during pandemic.
A new report by the Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy (IPS) Studies shows that in the year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit America, the very wealthy did fabulously, thank you, while many Americans suffered economic hardship.
”There are 43 newly minted billionaires since the beginning of the pandemic,” the report found, bringing the new total to 657.
At the very top of the top were 15 billionaires who saw their combined wealth grow by $563 billion or 82%. They were led by Elon Musk ($137.5 billion richer, a 559% increase), Jeff Bezos ($65 billion, 58%) and Mark Zuckerberg ($47 billion, 86%).
“The pandemic profiteers are extracting windfalls of wealth during a time of widespread suffering for the majority of people,” said Chuck Collins of the IPS. Much of the new wealth — 43% — was driven by gains in the technology industry, which benefitted from “having their Main Street competition shuttered and our increased dependence on online technologies,” Collins noted.
Compared to the very top dogs, Wisconsin’s pandemic profiteers were far behind, though it was still a very lovely year for them. John Menard, Jr., owner of the Menards home improvement stores chain, saw his net worth increase by $2.7 billion in the past year, up 24%, increasing his total net worth to $14.2 billion.
All three were listed among the wealthiest 100 Americans.
Judy Faulkner, owner of the booming, Madison-based, medical-record software provider, Epic, may soon be joining them. She saw her wealth explode by 120% in one year, a net worth increase of $3 billion, to a total of $5.5 billion.
Also on the list of Wisconsin billionaires: SC Johnson heirs Helen Johnson-Leipold, S. Curtis Johnson and H. Fisk Johnson, who each saw a 9% increase in net worth, to $3.6 billion each, and James Cargill II, the Cargill food and beverage company owner, whose wealth grew by 33% in the last year, increasing his net worth to $3.6 billion.
All told, Wisconsin saw the wealth of its billionaires grow by 32% or $12.5 billion. All but three states, Nevada, Idaho and West Virginia, saw the net worth of their uber-wealthy grow in the last year.
“Billionaires are living in a different world from the rest of us,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “It’s time we bring them down to earth and make them pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us.”
That is the goal of the wealth tax proposed by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. And the administration of President Joe Biden is now considering a $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan that would be financed through tax increases on corporations, investors and rich Americans.
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