So are Billionaires Morally Entitled to Their Wealth?
That’s the question, isn’t it?
Why wouldn’t they be?
They worked for it. They’re smarter than the rest of us. They provide jobs (and therefore income) for millions of people. They innovate and invent products that makes life better for us.
Let’s look at those reasons.
They Worked For It
They certainly had access to capital and opportunity, but did they work any harder than others who had the same idea? If one looks at this on a case by case basis, it becomes apparent that all of them had access to opportunity that other people didn’t have.
Let’s look at Bill Gates.
For a start he did not come from a poor family. In fact, his family was at least upper middle class. He parents also sent him to a private school at thirteen (1968). The school was wealthy enough to purchase computer equipment, and therefore Gates had access to something that very, very few other children of the same age had. He also had rich contacts, because the sons and daughters of the rich generally go to private schools. This meant that as he grew older, not only did he become skilled at an emerging technology, but he also had access to capital.
Compare that to someone of the same age who grew up dirt poor in the middle of nowhere, and despite having the same level of intelligence, and the same work ethic, simply did not have the opportunity.
So, no, working for it is not a reason for excessive wealth. The excessive wealth did not come from ‘work.’ Other people — lots of people — work. They don’t have excessive wealth, simply because they were born into less opportune circumstances.
Rich People and Business Owners are Smarter Than the Rest of Us
How much intelligence does it take to purchase a product from a manufacturer, advertise it to hell and gone, and get people to buy it at a marked up price? That does not require intelligence. It requires capital. Most start-ups fail because they haven’t enough capital to carry through. Eighty two percent of start-ups fail because they don’t have enough start-up cash.
The one thing that keeps business going through thick and thin — even with a very mediocre product — is the advertising budget to convince people to buy it. There is so much rubbish in the market place but people buy it because they’ve been convinced by the advertising industry that it is a high status product or that they need it. Ever spoken to a shopkeeper and s/he says “Everybody else loves it and is buying it.” It’s a strong selling point. People seem to be really keen to buy the same that that other people are buying. So if a business has enough capital to keep going, sooner or later they will make it.
Bottom line is that business owners are not smarter than the rest of us. They’re just initially richer and have sources we don’t.
They Provide Jobs For the Rest of Us
That they do. And somewhere between 75% and 95% of people hate their jobs — not because of the job itself, but because of the bullying, office politics, meaningless of the product, low pay, long hours, lack of fairness, and a thousand other things that take place within the business world. People don’t dislike work. They dislike jobs. Work and jobs are do very different things.
Is it possible for us to survive without jobs?
Absolutely. We just have to change the economic process. We have to un-link production and distribution from for-profit business. Once we do that, many other things fall into place. For a start, while we would all still have to work, we won’t have to work for such long hours, and we certainly will only work at meaningful work. We will understand why we are doing it, because it will be necessary work — like cleaning the oceans, growing food, studying science, and/or being involved in innovative products that will contribute to the well being of all.
Jobs, on the other hand, are soul destroying things, focused on accruing wealth for the company owners. Why on earth would any of us be interested in accruing massive wealth for other people — especially when it comes at the expense of our own destruction and the destruction of the planet.
Billionaires Innovate and Invent Products
No, they actually don’t. They have the resources to market them in their initial stages. Right now, billionaires are investing in new forms of energy. Are they actually personally inventing it or doing the innovating?
Of course, not.
They’re just paying the people to do the work, and in return they get the patents or copyrights for the work.
Now if we had a different system whereby our taxes paid scientists and inventors for their ideas, and then those ideas were released without patents and copyrights, the world would move forward a lot more quickly. For a start, everybody would have access, and there would be a lot more competition.
The pharmaceutical companies that are charging and arm and a leg for insulin didn’t discover it or invent it. The guy who did that was Sir Frederick Banting, a Canadian medical scientist. He provided the data for anyone to be able to manufacture it, and the fact that pharmaceutical companies make large fortunes from it isn’t because they were innovative and inventive. It was because they had the money (again capital) to market other people’s inventions.
So That’s Out of the Way
So, no, none of the reasons commonly given for why billionaires should retain they wealth. Let’s now look at why they shouldn’t have been allowed to accrue that degree of wealth.
Why Nobody Should be Allowed to Accrue Immense Wealth
- Civil strife is the result of inequality. The direct cause of massive inequality is underpayment of workers and massive over payment of the ownership class. The degree to which there is underpayment and over-payment determines the inequality gap. South Africa is the most unequal country in the world with workers being paid a few hundred dollars a month and owners being paid a small or large fortune. This is a left-over wage structure from apartheid days. So these billionaires didn’t get rich because they particularly supplied a brilliant service.Billionaires like the Waltons get rich because they underpay their workers to such an extent that they make a lot of profit (Labor is the most expensive business expense). and as many have pointed out, Wal-Mart is not necessarily the cheapest! Inequality eventually causes civil disruption in any country. People become angry and desperate, and that is what has happened in a lot of countries in the world. It is a direct result of inequality and low-paying wages. Billionaires simply wouldn’t be that rich if they paid all their staff decent wages.
- Money buys politicians. When people become very rich, they become very powerful, and power corrupts. The human brain simply isn’t up to it. It’s interesting that 20% of CEOs are psychopaths. So were they born that way, or did they become that way. They then begin to want to change the laws of the country so that they can make even more profit. This might include preventing minimum wages from rising, or getting out of paying taxes, or making it difficult for mom and pop businesses to gain a foothold in the marketplace. Very rich people get away with so much that they begin to think they are above the law. Eventually, they do things that none of the rest of us would do because we are not above the law. Let the record show Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump. Rich, powerful people are bad for humanity.
- Our real leaders, innovators, and inventors are hidden from public view. Lack of recognition for the real innovators and inventors, and probably real leaders as well. The real inventors and innovators seldom benefit from their work, and this does humanity a disservice. These are the people that need to be valued, but they seldom are. They are not even known. Consequently, the wrong people are given power. Currently virtually all people who run for political office are rich and mean. The real leaders are mildly spoken, but they have the brains to find the right solutions.
So there you have it.
Billionaires shouldn’t be allowed to exist.
They’re not good for humanity.