Oct 27, 2021
The head of the World Food Programme is urging U.S. billionaires to give just .36% of the increase in their collective wealth since the start of the pandemic to help prevent 42 million people from starving to death.
The remarks from WFP executive director David Beasley, who singled out the fortunes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, came in an interview that aired Tuesday on CNN's "Connect the World."
"Billionaires need to step up," he said, with a one-time donation of "six billion dollars to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don't reach them." Beasley said governments are "tapped out" and that addressing the hunger crisis was especially critical amid "a perfect storm of conflict, climate change, and Covid."
"It's not complicated," said Beasley.
\u201cAs the rich in the #US get richer - @WFPChief tells @beckycnn he is asking for $6 #billion to help 42 million people facing starvation.\n\nTo put that into context, that is a 0.36% increase in the net worth of US #billionaires\u201d— Connect the World (@Connect the World) 1635263942
Beasley referenced an analysis from August showing that the top 400 billionaires in the U.S. saw their combined fortune rise $1.8 trillion amid the Covid-19 crisis. "All I'm asking for," said Beasley, "is .36% of your net worth increase" during that time.
"I'm for people making money, but, God knows, also for you helping people who are in great need right now. The world is in trouble... and you're telling me you can't give me .36% of your net worth increase?"
"What if it was your daughter starving to death?" Beasley said. "What if it was your family starving to death?"
"Wake up, smell the coffee, and help," he said.
Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality this month updated their analysis on the surge of billionaires' wealth since the pandemic broke out, finding that it's now grown $2.1 trillion over the past 19 months, so the $6 billion in donations Beasley asked for would be an even smaller percentage of that growth.
The WFP chief has made similar recent appeals on Twitter to billionaires:
\u201cCongratulations to @elonmusk for passing up @JeffBezos as the world\u2019s richest person - worth a whopping $221B! \ud83e\udd47 Elon, to celebrate I\u2019m offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity: help us save 42M people from starvation for just $6.6B!! Offer expires SOON.. and lives do too.\u201d— David Beasley (@David Beasley) 1634634596
\u201cThink about it: every 17 hours a billionaire is created, and every 17 hours 17,000 people die from hunger. Shame on us. Yes, make $$$$. AND, yes, help those in need. Do both!\u201d— David M. Beasley (@David M. Beasley) 1634729499
Beasley's CNN interview came the same month the United Nations marked World Food Day on Oct. 16.
In a statement for that occasion, he warned that the climate emergency stands to worsen an already grim scenario of global food insecurity.
"The climate crisis has the potential to overwhelm humanity," he said Beasley.
"The world is not prepared for the unprecedented rise in hunger we will see if we do not invest in programs that help vulnerable communities adapt and build resilience to our changing climate," Beasley said, adding that "the climate crisis is fueling a food crisis."
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