So — right off the bat and for a bit of perspective — one million seconds is roughly 11.5 days, whereas one billion seconds is more than 31 years.
The number of billionaires exploded during the past year (yes, that's during the pandemic) to its current total of 2,755.
This is alongside the statistic that nearly 20 million adults (or 9% of the national population of adults) don't have enough to eat on a weekly basis, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
That's 660 more people than last year — meaning a new billionaire was added to the tally every 17 hours. Their total net worth is $13.1 trillion, $5 trillion more than last year.
To put these wildly large numbers into somewhat of a perspective, the world's billionaires have a net worth that's higher than the GDP of the second richest country in the world, China.
In fact, in the first month of the pandemic, US billionaires collectively added $300 billion to their wealth.
And while that's certainly horrible, it's not new. Following the Great Recession, billionaire wealth rose at a rate five times higher than that of the median US household wealth.
According to economist Jeffrey Sachs, the cost of ending poverty is roughly $175 billion each year for 20 years. This means that the world's billionaires could solve world impoverishment and still have almost $10 trillion left to spare.
Elon Musk is currently the world's richest billionaire, with $306.5 billion to his name. Even if you were to make $100 million per year, it would still take you 3,065 years to amass that level of wealth.
To break it down even further, that means earning roughly $11,415 an hour.
The world's second richest billionaire — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — makes an estimated $3,715 every second, which is three and a half times more than the median full-time weekly wage for most Americans ($984 per week).
To quantify that wealth even further, for Bezos, spending $88,000 (that's 2.5 times the median yearly salary in the US) is like spending $1. And that's in 2018 estimates.
Throughout the past two decades, American billionaire wealth has increased from $240 billion (adjusted for inflation) to $4.18 trillion in March 2021. That's 17 times more than their total wealth in 1990.
If you can believe it, there's a huge wealth gap even among billionaires. The majority, 94%, are worth $10 billion or less. After that, 5% are worth between $10 and $30 billion, while mega-billionaires — who comprise less than 1% of all billionaires — are worth more than $30 billion.
Billionaires are not just incredibly influential — they're often directly in our politics, too. According to Vox's Explained series on Netflix, around a dozen world leaders are billionaires. In addition, there's about 100 billionaires in the Chinese Parliament.
Billionaires hire people — from lawyers to lobbyists — who specialize in ensuring their taxes are kept low through legal loopholes in the system.
They also use their never-ending resources to fund lawmakers and invest in policies that benefit them.
All in all, the result is billionaires hiding more than one-fifth of their income from the IRS. Yup, the 1% evade taxes so much that they account for more than a third of unpaid federal taxes.
Between 1980 and 2018, the taxes paid by US billionaires (measured as a percentage of their wealth) decreased by almost 80%.
There's also the offshore financial system, where entire islands are dedicated to helping billionaires avoid taxes. For example, the South Pacific Cook Islands literally specialize in helping wealthy people hide assets from creditors.
As a result of these offshore accounts, approximately 10% of the world's GDP — that's trillions of dollars — is hidden away.
That means we're missing a bunch of money that could be used to pay for government-funded public services.
What's more — billionaires might not even know how much they're worth, and the numbers we know could be totally off. In fact, two-thirds of most billionaires' wealth is not publicly available information.
And it doesn't really help that the IRS is poorly funded and understaffed, often unable to actually get billionaires to pay their fair share.
Which, of course, brings us all to our last and most horrid fact of all: Billionaires barely pay ANY taxes — if they do so at all.
According to leaked IRS documents, Bezos and Musk have both gone without paying federal income tax in previous years. This is because people with absurd wealth can choose whether or not to be taxed on the growth of this wealth, and also because — in general — labor income is taxed at nearly double the rate as capital income. In fact, people like Mark Zuckerberg have claimed $1 salaries in previous years. That's where Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax comes in.
Simply put: "You're not gonna earn a billion dollars pulling down regular income and paying regular income tax on it. Just not gonna happen."
FYI, Abigail Disney — the granddaughter of Roy Disney (that's Walt's older brother), whose net worth is "nine figures" — said that.