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Abigail Disney Calls Out Disney World on Reopening During COVID-19

The social activist also advocates for a wealth tax to fight the pandemic.

Philanthropist and filmmaker Abigail Disney appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to talk about wealth inequality with host Andrew Ross Sorkin. The great-niece of Walt Disney, and daughter of long-time Disney executive Roy Disney has long been an advocate for higher taxes for the rich. She previously criticized the Walt Disney Company for freezing pay for more than 100,000 cast members and employees during the early months of the outbreak. Meanwhile, the company maintained a $1.5 billion dividend plan for its stockholders.

Disney said of the Florida parks reopening, “I’m not looking at the same information they’re looking at, but given what I do know … I’m confused about how they think they can possibly protect their guests and their employees.” Disney added, “I certainly know people who work there who are very uncomfortable, who have conditions like asthma and diabetes that put you at high risk, who are literally deciding whether they want to go back to work or buy food.”

Disney elaborated on how wealth inequality has damaged our ability to address the coronavirus pandemic. It’s simple really: tax cuts for the wealthy over the past several decades have directly led to less funding for public health programs. With America in crisis, we are free falling into a social safety net that has been worn threadbare by budget cuts and corporate greed.

Disney said, “Money has been concentrated too heavily in a too small population. It needs to be driven across the economy.” Disney also touched on the Trump administration, adding “There’s no question the federal government has failed us, and that’s been a failure of leadership, but where governments have failed us it’s because they persistently underfunded and starved by this insistence that we take all the money out of the public systems we possibly can.”

She also took time to discuss the inability of low and middle-income families to save money and build wealth, which makes work furloughs and shutdowns so devastating to folks living paycheck to paycheck.

Abigail Disney joins 83 other millionaires worldwide who have signed a letter calling on governments to increase taxes on the wealthy to help fund pandemic recovery. The group, Millionaires for Humanity, wrote in their mission statement, “Today, we, the undersigned millionaires, ask our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently.”

The letter continues, “The problems caused by, and revealed by, Covid-19 can’t be solved with charity, no matter how generous. Government leaders must take the responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly. We can ensure we adequately fund our health systems, schools, and security through a permanent tax increase on the wealthiest people on the planet, people like us.”

(via CNBC, image: CNBC)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.