The pitchforks are coming | Letter

“The richest 1 percent own $125 trillion — half the world’s wealth.”

Oxfam International has released “Reward Work, Not Wealth: The Way To End Inequality.” It was a reminder of Seattle billionaire Nick Hanauer’s 2014 alert: “The Pitchforks Are Coming For Us Plutocrats,” in which he informed us that 99.99 percent of us are lagging behind the .01%ers. Ten of the .01ers live in the Seattle Metro area including Mercer Island.

The global economy has empowered the richest 1%. Oxfam confirmed that 82% of global wealth produced in 2017 went to 1%. A new billionaire was created every other day, while 3.7 billion saw no increase in their wealth.

The erosion of workers’ rights, corporate influence in political and labor policy-making, rewarding inherited wealth, tax evasion and cost cutting to maximize profits caused it.

How do we solve it? The richest 1 percent own $125 trillion — half the world’s wealth. Brookings Institution experts say a modest 0.064 percent of it ($80 billion annually) would end it. Billionaire wealth grew more than 10 percent in 2015, meaning they could still get richer.

Economists Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes have endorsed this solution, as has conservative intellectual Charles Murray.

One day a hot dog vendor in downtown Seattle will be arrested for not having a permit. He will self immolate. The Pitchforks Nick Hanauer predicted will appear. It will go national. The super rich will suffer the most.

When the markets crashed and millions were laid off in 2009, nobody rioted, kidnapped or murdered the financiers. Sticking up a billionaire for $1000 won’t do it. Next time? They will be forced to live behind walls, their yachts will be sunk and unoccupied vacation homes will be destroyed. An annual $80 billion pittance can prevent those pitchforks from coming.

C. F. Baumgartner

Mercer Island