Super-rich want coronavirus taxpayers’ money for themselves


This 28 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

KARE 11 investigates pandemic profiteering

A garage door slams closed in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Avondale as a reporter asks, “Do you think it’s fair to sell four rolls of toilet paper for $40?”

The man being asked the question is an eBay seller who goes by the handle ‘cubswon2016.’

KARE 11 Investigates, in partnership with sister station KPNX in Phoenix, tracked down the eBay merchant after a Minnesota man contacted us claiming online price-gouging.

Translated from Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, 9 May 2020:

Some Quote 500

the list of the 500 richest people in the Netherlands of Quote magazine

entrepreneurs applied for government support after just a few weeks of the coronavirus crisis. They transfer their losses to the taxpayers, it soon sounded. Is that criticism justified? Investigative journalists of collective Spit visited all 500 of them.

By Dieuwertje Kuijpers, Kim van Keken, Parcival Weijnen and Bram Logger

Since, according to Prime Minister Rutte,

of the pro-Big Busfiness VVD party

we will “get through the crisis only together”, the question arises which part of the coronavirus damage the richest businessmen in the Netherlands themselves bear. …

Others were energetic in not replying: “Whether we give our supermarket employees something extra money during corona time? I answer neutrally.” “What does that mean? “No yes and no no. Bye”, said supermarket chain Nettorama (owned by Jaap Bastmeijer, number 70 of the Quote 500, owns 510 million euros).

Companies that are in serious trouble due to the corona crisis can count on government support of a total of ten to twenty billion euros per quarter. …

Frowned eyebrows

Companies come knocking on the government’s door. Including the companies that paid generous dividends and bonuses in the pre-corona period. Or rigged structures to contribute as little as possible to the treasury – but now want emergency support after a month of headwind. Eg, Quote discovered that Booking.com received a 1.8 billion tax discount last year, the CEO’s annual income was more than 12 million euros, but at the same time the corporation was one of the first to apply for state aid.

It raised eyebrows, also in the House of Representatives. Farid Azarkan (DENK party) wondered at the end of March “why it would be different for corporations than if we help someone who applies for welfare.” Someone who has more than 5,555 euros in savings will not receive any welfare.

What about the morality of the wealthy who are now asking for state aid to save their empires? Member of Parliament Esther Ouwehand (Party for the Animals) mentioned the Van Drie family (the seventh richest family in the Quote 500), who built up a billion-dollar fortune with a calf slaughterhouse empire: ‘Does the VVD party also consider that these high-net worth organizations themselves have to do something to get their subsidiaries off the ground before we consider any support? ”

… Meanwhile, VVD party member Prime Minister Rutte continues to emphasize that we must “come out of the crisis together.” …

“Businessmen say that societal issues is something for politics, the economy supposedly talks about facts.” It shows how amoral capitalism works. “Social issues are something the business community thinks is political, the economy is supposedly about facts”, says [university philosophy letcturer] Van Baardewijk. …

Take Roland Kahn, who has a capital of 140 million (313rd in the Quote-500). The owner of clothing stores MS Mode and America Today asked for emergency support after two weeks of lockdown and stopped paying suppliers and rent, an effective way to put crisis problems on someone else’s back. …

Rituals, a Raymond Cloosterman company (number 82, assets 470 million), is also happily transferring the bill for the corona crisis to the real estate sector. The chain that promises to “convert daily routines into meaningful rituals” announces that it will no longer pay rent on 1 April and that it will “start a conversation”. …

Under pressure

The number 10 of the Quote 500, Marcel Boekhoorn (capital: 2 billion), also did not know how quickly he had to pass on the bill of the corona crisis. As the owner of HEMA, he already informed the landlords before the corona measures were fully in force to transfer only half of the rent in April and May. …

Cancelled

The richest family in the Netherlands, Brenninkmeijer (No. 1 on the list, with assets of 22.5 billion), made it very colourful. The owner of clothing chain C&A sent a letter to the landlords saying that the company is demanding a discount: “In the absence of a formal response or objection on your part, you are expected to agree.” Orders were cancelled, even if they were already ready layers to be shipped.

The company cancelled orders worth 151 million euros in Bangladesh. Workers of clothing factories were suddenly at home without income. “As if you were ordering a pizza, but as soon as the delivery person arrives at the door, you don’t feel like it,” says Christie Miedema, campaign coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, to OneWorld. …

Piri-piri paradise

Nando’s, an international chain of chicken canteens, owned by the Dutch businessman Dick Enthoven (No. 33, wealth 1 billion), is also trying to put itself in the sympathetic socially responsible spotlight. The piri-piri paradise has branches in mainly Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa.

Recently, Nandos made headlines as it left migrants underpaid, staff cleaning restaurants unpaid, and skimming wages below the minimum. The chicken canteen uses Covid-19 as an opportunity to polish its image. “At Nando, we don’t just serve chicken, we serve the community. We’re all in this together”, said the vice president of marketing of the Canadian branch. …

Only Albert Heijn said what bonuses looked like for workers: at Easter, employees received a gift voucher worth 25 euros that they can spend at Albert Heijn (or [Albert Heijn alcoholic drinks shop] Gall & Gall). …

Some of the Quote 500 are doing well in these times. A good example of this is Steven Schuurman (no. 29, 1.1 billion) who, with his open-source data and search engine Elastisearch, not only supplies a sought-after product, but also supplies a range of stable customers such as healthcare, universities and the US American air force. The company also posted good results for the first quarter.

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