America’s billionaires have seen their wealth increase by 12.5 percent during the COVID-19 lockdown period. The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, released a study Thursday showing that, in the eight weeks between March 18 and May 14, the country’s super wealthy have added a further $368.8 billion to their already enormous fortunes.
Among the more famous big winners during the pandemic include Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who adds $21 billion to his net worth (a 38 percent increase). Failed Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg is up $10 billion as well, meaning he has recouped ten times as much as he lost in his big money political campaign that went nowhere. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has increased his fortune by around $6 billion as well.
All this comes at the same time that the economy has undeniably imploded for working people. A record 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance, with millions more losing their employer-based healthcare plans, and around a third of the country not paying its rent. Schools, factories, offices, and other businesses remain shuttered. The Trump administration has promised to provide $1,200 to every citizen, but it will be months before everyone receives their check. As a result, there has been an explosion in the use of food banks, as desperate citizens line up for hours in the hopes of receiving a box of food.