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The billionaires’ recovery | READER COMMENTARY

In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, trader Neil Catania works on the trading floor, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. U.S. stocks have risen substantially in 2020, as investors focus on the possibility that coronavirus vaccines could soon help usher in a fuller global economic recovery.
In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, trader Neil Catania works on the trading floor, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. U.S. stocks have risen substantially in 2020, as investors focus on the possibility that coronavirus vaccines could soon help usher in a fuller global economic recovery. (Colin Ziemer/AP)

In his recent commentary (”Trickle-down economics doesn’t work but build-up does,” Dec. 24), Robert Reich writes about how the rich have gotten richer since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with just 651 American billionaires gaining $1 trillion of wealth: “With this windfall,” Mr. Reich observes, “they could send a $3,000 check to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. Don’t hold your breath.”

This latest bailout is about a billion dollars. It will be paid for by borrowing — in your name and mine and every other person here, about $3,000 each — to be added to the national debt. Another trillion dollars. Some of that money will be well used and will keep people afloat, and some of it will simply be misappropriated and stolen and make rich people richer. But why in the world don’t we reconsider the way we’re doing this? That’s 651 people who gained a trillion dollars in wealth since the epidemic started, while the national debt had grown by $3 trillion. It seems to me those who are already very, very rich should be paying a larger share — maybe even giving up the trillion dollars they just (I can’t say earned, but gained) as a contribution to the public good.

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This is not a v-shaped quick recovery. We have a k-shaped recovery. A few people (the author’s 651 billionaires) dramatically acquire ever-increasing amounts of wealth while most of us are on the downward leg of that “k,” sinking deeper and deeper into debt and into despair. There’s really something wrong with our system.

Harry Leffmann, Baltimore

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