No Billionaires

There should be no billionaires.

Though this has been a belief common among many of us for a long time, it was not one expressed by a person in a position of power, at least with any impact and cultural resonance, until the estimable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did so. There was backlash to AOC’s statements, as there are to virtually all that she says and writes. But it was not only right-wing jizz-bags that rose to the defense of those poor billionaires, always under assault by petite Latina women with brains and mouths; there were self-identifying liberals who felt the freshman congresswoman had again gone too far.

Defenses were built on the notion that people deserve to keep what they earn, and decide how they want to spend it. If someone has a billion dollar idea, and builds a billion dollar business, it’s their right to hold on tight to those billion dollars. It’s their money, they deserve to do what they want with it.

The concept of being deserving is one which embraces a narrow perception of morality at the expense of all others. If one person deserves to have a million dollars, then everyone else must be undeserving. It must be the case that poor people deserve to be poor. That is a line of thinking prevalent among the wealthy class, or those indoctrinated by them, the idea that being rich is a reward for hard work and moral superiority, while poverty is punishment for laziness and moral failings.

The notion of a billion dollar idea, or that a single person is entitled to that billion dollars, or any such huge sum, because they had the original germ of a thought, or made the first prototype or investment, is one which ignores the many other people who contributed to that success. Their employees, first of all, surely deserve credit and compensation. Then there were the taxpayers that made it possible for them to use the infrastructure enabling the sale of their product, not to mention subsidies doled out, taxpayer money handed over to corporations with very little to no return on investment. So much is made in the capitalist world about the importance of the individual that founders and CEOs are venerated, ignoring the many people that make their success possible. Zuckerberg and Bezos are not magical perfect geniuses. Neither were Rockefeller or Hearst. Nor are/were any of them good people. Each has/had some skill, did some work, but more than anything, they had luck, a willingness to exploit others, and a selfish inclination to hold onto all they can/could.

Besides the morality of any person being allowed to have a billion dollars or more, there is the issue of practicality, the fact that no one needs that much money, and will not be able to spend it in their whole lifetime unless they really make an effort.

For perspective on just how much a billion is: if you were counting your money at a rate of one dollar a second, it would take you nearly thirty-two years to finish. That’s without sleeping, or eating, not even masturbating unless the sight of so much paper is a turn-on and you can do each task with each hand at once without losing count.

If you have a billion dollars, and spend a thousand dollars a day, it will take you nearly 2,740 years to spend it all. If that’s not lavish enough for you, at a rate of a million dollars a day, sure, you’ll be broke before hitting three years. But if you’re spending a million dollars a day, then you are terrible at managing your finances. To burn through a million a day, you’d have to, say, buy prime real estate, several very nice cars, or ten kilos of really top quality heroin. Every day. A spending habit like that, however, is rare, and indicative that you have bigger problems than the prospect of your fortune being redistributed to the needy. I can’t imagine how you got your hands on a billion in the first place, and clearly you can’t be trusted with it.

The second and commensurately important part of the there should be no billionaires equation is there should be no poor people. No one should go hungry, no one should be denied medical treatment, no one should be homeless, unless for whatever reason they happen to actually want to live under such circumstances, which is a rarity but not nonexistent. So long as there are people with more money than they could even waste, let alone need, there should be no one suffering and dying for lack of money. Whatever one’s sense of morality otherwise, any argument against that is the product of a depraved mind.

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