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Bad-Rap Billionaires. Unfair Criticism?

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Bernie Sanders started something when he said — out in the open — “Billionaires shouldn’t exist.” Now people are talking, and crying, about bad-rap billionaires. Is the criticism too harsh?

Bernie’s full quote:

“I don’t think that billionaires should exist,” he said, adding that there would always be rich people and others with less money. “This proposal does not eliminate billionaires, but it eliminates a lot of the wealth that billionaires have, and I think that’s exactly what we should be doing.”

~ Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times

Continuing the theme…

Bad-Rap Billionaires as Takers

Last Monday, while speaking to Ta-Nehisi Coates at a MLK Now event, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) upset the status quo applecart. Again. She made a bold anti-billionaire statement:

“No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars.” ~ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Are bad-rap billionaires grabby?

Context is everything. Please listen to AOC’s full statement below.

I, myself, get it. Completely. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t like to be a millionaire (even a multi-millionaire). Especially if that circumstance resulted from my own good efforts. And if I lived in a society where everyone’s basic needs were met, no questions asked. I could really enjoy hard-earned wealth, when I knew everyone else was “OK.”

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Billionaires and Philanthropy

Of course, there’s philanthrope. However, author Anand Giridharadas suggests that an urge to “give back” isn’t always altruistic. Its main goal is to keep the status quo from changing. I read his book: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Giridharadas presents his observations in a moderate manner. There’s no emotion-baiting or preachiness. It’s just, finally, someone talking about the elephant in the room.

Are bad-rap billionaires self-centered?

Billionaires Value Freedom (From Taxes)

Meanwhile, the 2020 annual World Economic Forum in Davos just concluded. The Patriotic Millionaires, who pound away that rich people should pay more taxes, created the “Davos Sign-On Letter.’

To Our Fellow Millionaires and Billionaires Across the Globe — There are two kinds of wealthy people in the world: those who prefer taxes and those who prefer pitchforks. We, the undersigned, prefer taxes. And we believe that, upon reflection, you will as well.

~ Patriotic Millionaires

Are bad-rap billionaires actually innocent Libertarians?

Libertarian Republic believes so: “Ocasio-Cortez’s War on Wealth Is a War on All of Us.” Apparently, rampant inequality is like taking a “hit” for Team All-of-Us. You have to admit, that’s pretty altruistic!

How do YOU make sense of it? Are bad-rap billionaires a fiction? Is the capitalist wealth-generating system still working, or has it gone screwy? Will there be pitchforks? Do we need billionaires to build a middle-class? If a wealth tax makes some people cry, where can they find tissues?

Finally, a word about billionaires from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:


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12 thoughts on “Bad-Rap Billionaires. Unfair Criticism?

  1. I think embedded within the issue of multimillionaires is the idea of morals. Bill Gates for example gave back to education… and is not viewed so harshly for his wealth.

    1. Yes. It is immoral to deny employees fair wages. It is immoral to pollute the environment. It is immoral to misuse power to rig laws in your own favor. It is immoral to avoid taxes. It is immoral to ignore antitrust and monopoly laws. However, for the ultra-rich these temptations are powerful. Let’s help reclaim a lot of otherwise decent rich people by removing such temptations. Regulations are protections for all.

  2. Well said. 👏👏👏 I’m happy that folks like Bernie and AOC are speaking out about the ridiculous inequity on the planet. A friend told me yesterday that, around the world, we are seeing mass protests like we haven’t seen in ages, perhaps ever. It’s no coincidence. The elite class has taken billions (not earned, taken). We need to take it back, for the future of humanity we need to take it back.

    1. I, too, feel urgency. Inequality and lost democracy are terrible. But climate emergency is really in our faces. It’s up to ordinary people to wrestle back power, and do what needs to be done.

  3. Innocent libertarian? That’s oxymoronic. I also don’t believe billionaires shouldn’t exist. No one earns a billion dollars. You can collect that much here since we live in a horribly dysfunctional, lottery style society with virtually everything owned by an ownership class. They not only own virtually every industry, they own the elections. Some people will argue that, but they are being disingenuous when they do so. With elections being run like just another business those with the most money almost always “win” on Election Day. It’s almost impossible to collect billions of dollars without hurting others.

    With almost all of the media in the U.S. owned by corporate executives the ownership class dictates what “truth” is, what we discuss and the definition of many crucial words – giving them loaded meanings. This allows them to control how and what most of us think.

    Democracy and Capitalism are mutually exclusive. In my opinion, anyone who denies this is being dishonest, either to protect economic interests or merely to patriotically continue to believe in “our” system.

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