Billionaires: A Modern Frankenstein’s Monster

By Avery Ross, G11

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Bernard Arnault, Mark Zuckerberg: When you hear those names what do you think of first? 

From left to right: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Bernard Arnault

Do you think of the platforms and products these men have created, or do you think of the amount of money these men are worth? Maybe you think of these men as some of the richest in the world. To your credit, you’re not wrong in thinking that. In fact, Bill Gates, Bernard Arnault, and Mark Zuckerberg are the three richest people in the world. Jeff Bezos, being the most wealthy, is currently worth 175.3 billion U.S. dollars — every hour, he makes $13.4 million, while his employees make a measly $15. This is incredibly infuriating when considering 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty. 

How can a country afford to have billionaires when 11.3% of the country is living in poverty? Additionally, during this pandemic billionaires seem to be making more than ever, all while the employment rate in the United States rose from 3.6% in August to 14.7% in April — during the peak of the pandemic. Seems unfair doesn’t it? That’s the problem with billionaires; they don’t help society in many ways at all. In fact, billionaires wouldn’t even exist if the government didn’t allow them to. 

Billionaires are the creation of an economic system that the government decided we should have. The government does this because billionaires put money into the state’s pockets. What is meant by this is that the corporate sector funds political parties and politicians. In some countries this can lead to a dictatorship if we’re not careful enough. This can also, of course, lead to personal friendships between politicians and these very rich people. These relationships often involve parties and going on overseas holidays with each other (a prime example of this would be the extravagant friendship between Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein). 

You are probably thinking, “Well doesn’t the top 1% pay a lot of our income tax?” (or something along those lines), but that is simply not true. Billionaires actually pay a much lower tax rate than the majority of working class Americans. Currently, America has the worst income inequality in the world. And if you think the income inequality is bad, just wait until you see the present wealth inequality. In 2017, the Federal Reserve did a study and reported that the top 1% of earners owned 38.5% of the country’s wealth, and this number was predicted to grow to 70% by 2021. Billionaires and millionaires should be contributing to a lot more income tax than they currently are if we want them to stop accumulating an increasing amount of wealth. For those who don’t know, tax havens are often offshore nations that offer foreigners as well as firms (businesses) little to no tax liability (the total amount of tax debt owed by a person or corporation to the IRS). Tax havens tend to share little to no financial information with foreign tax authorities. This can lead to tax avoidance by the extreme rich.All these states don’t even account for the tax havens that the top 1% have.

Every time another individual becomes a billionaire we’re seeing economic and policy failure. It proves that the economy (at least in the United States) is rigged. Since markets are molded by their various rules and regulations, they can be designed to favor one group of people over another. As much as I hate to say anything good about the 45th president, he was correct when saying the system is rigged by those in the inherited plutocracy (which he himself is a perfect example of). One could argue that America is a plutocracy. I mean there were two Bushes in offices and almost two Clintons, what else could explain this phenomenon? Now when I say billionaires shouldn’t exist, that’s not because I want there to be less job opportunities, or more opportunities in general for people to enjoy the finer things in life. What I am saying in the simplest form is that too much of anything can have dire consequences — and that includes earning or inheriting too much money. 

Now, you’re probably feeling angry or maybe a little hopeless after reading all of that, andI don’t blame you. Maybe you’re even thinking, “what can I do to help prevent another economic failure like this?”. The answer that you’re seeking is very plain: support your local businesses. Try to buy from small and local businesses more than you do from multi million dollar corporations such as Amazon or Louis Vuitton. Instead of giving another billionaire another summer home you might be giving a family their next meal, or a child their education — and that can make all the difference. 


SOURCES

  • Russel-Moyle, Lloyd. “I Never Expected to Go Viral Just for Saying Billionaires Shouldn’t Exist| Lloyd Russell-Moyle.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Nov. 2019, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/01/viral-billionaires-super-rich-exist.
  • Stiglitz, Joseph E. “The American Economy Is Rigged.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 1 Nov. 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-american-economy-is-rigged/.

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