Indulge me in a thought experiment. Imagine you have $50,000 to spend every day for the rest of your life. If you want to spend more than 50k in a day, then you have to wait to accumulate the money. How would you spend it?
Days one through six: Pay off your debts. Do you have more than fifty grand in debt? Maybe one hundred? For your sake, hopefully not more. Most folks at least have a mortgage and car payment. Throw in some student loans and credit card debt just to be safe. Pay your mortgage in full. Pay your car loan in full. $300,000 should cover everything.
Day Seven: It’s Sunday, the Lord’s day. Get your picture in the local news with one of those big fake $20,000 checks, shaking hands with someone from the charity of your choice. Then go to Levine’s Children’s Hospital, find some kid in bed with his sleepless parents beside him. Give them $29,000 dollars to cover their medical bills. It won’t cover everything, I’m sure, but they’ll be grateful. Now you’ve got $1,000 left. Go downtown and treat yourself to a fancy as fuck steak dinner at some overpriced restaurant. Tip the waiter whatever you have left after paying the bill.
Day Eight: Go into work and tell your boss to go fuck himself. Then go out to eat for every single meal and tip every server in every restaurant an extra $100 on top of a 100% tip on every bill. Let’s guess that costs ten grand. Now take the leftover forty grand and buy all the shit you want but don’t need: New TVs, new PC, new furniture, drugs, whatever.
Day Nine: Rent a helicopter. No, fuck that. Wait eleven days.
Day Twenty: Buy a helicopter ($415,000), and hire a personal pilot to fly you around for a year and train you ($100,000). You’ve got $35,000 left. Get 1,700 twenty dollar bills from the bank and fly around town throwing them from your helicopter. Take your pilot out to lunch and dinner with the remaining grand and remember TO ALWAYS TIP YOUR FUCKING SERVERS.
Day Twenty-One: Spend the day taking skydiving lessons. Getting your skydiving license costs a measly $2500 and takes three to four months. You’re rich as fuck and can do whatever you want so lets say you pay them an extra grand to help you get it in two.
Fast-forward eight weeks and 2.8 million dollars. You bought your own plane and hired Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden to teach you how to fly ($1,000,000). Let’s say you’ve managed to spend an additional $300,000 in various escapades and lavish dinners (after which you always tip your servers at least 100%). It’s April 1st, opening day of Major League Baseball. You and your new buddy Bruce flyover the game and parachute onto the field of Nationals Park. Bruce plays the National Anthem on his guitar and then you throw the first pitch because you gave $1 million to the Children’s Hospital in DC (Billionaire Nationals owner Ted Lerner’s favorite charity). Buy a round of beers for everyone in the ballpark. Sit in the owner’s box with Ted and get fucking shitfaced. How much money have you got left now? You don’t know, you’re drunk, but it doesn’t matter because you’ll have $50,000 more tomorrow.
What day is it now? Who knows; time doesn’t matter because you can do whatever you want with it. Hire one of those mobile hangover recovery ambulances and have it drive you to the nearest grocery store. Buy a carton of eggs. Go to the Capitol building, walk into Devin Nunes’ office and throw an egg in his fucking face. Then piss on his desk and shit on his floor. If he tries to say shit just tell him you’re a big dick Trump donor. Then light a joint and watch while you make him clean up your mess. Fuck Devin Nunes.
Email Stephen Miller something like “Wealthy White Rights Activist wishes to coordinate strategy with White House.” Call Floyd Mayweather and tell him some skinny white dude called him the n-word and wants to fight. When Miller meets with you punch him in the fucking face. Then let Floyd Mayweather punch him in the face. On your way out of the White House, light a bag of shit on fire outside Mick Mulvaney’s door. Tell Trump that Mulvaney once told you in person that he doesn’t like or support him (Author’s note: This really happened to me during the 2016 Republican Primary). Then Trump will probably say something like “That’s why I made him my little bitch,” and laugh with you as Mick gets burning shit all over his shoes. Then make sure to shake Trump’s hand and tell him you’re a big supporter of his tax cuts (you’ve got to cover your tracks in case Nunes tries to say shit).
Fly home with Bruce and sleep off the rest of your hangover. You’ve got more shenanigans to get into tomorrow… Or don’t sleep. Keep partying. It’s not like you have to go to work tomorrow. Or ever again.
A billionaire can spend 50,000 dollars every single day for a year and on December 31st still have nine-hundred and eighty-one million, seven-hundred and fifty thousand dollars left over ($981,750,000). A billionaire can set aside eighteen-million, two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars to spend on whatever in the fuck they want, and only have to make 1.8% in returns on investing their remaining fortune in order to cover their expenses.
The Forbes’ list of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States has twelve individuals tied in last place with 2.2 billion dollars each. Forbes can’t even fit all the billionaires in the United States onto one fucking list. The combined worth of the 400 people on the list clocks in at 2.96 trillion dollars. I did some serious research, and by that I mean clicked all the way to the fourth page of Google results, and the best thing I could find was a note about the 2017 list revealing that they excluded 169 billionaires too poor to make it. The 2019 article notes that they didn’t include people on the list who were part of billionaire families, and that many of their estimates were just that; turns out not all of the ultra-rich want us plebs to know just how ultra-rich they actually are. One can only guess at how much money they have stashed away in off-shore bank accounts and international tax havens.
So let’s assume that in 2019, there are an additional 200 billionaires in the United States, with an average wealth of 1.5 billion dollars, and a combined net worth 300 billion. That leaves us with a conservative estimate valuing the combined net worth of all the billionaires in the United States at 3.26 trillion dollars.
Now what could the 600 billionaires of the United States do with 3.26 trillion dollars?
They could pay all 1.4 trillion dollars in student loan debt and still have have 1.86 trillion left over, or an average of 3.1 billion per billionaire.
With the remaining 1.86 trillion, they could easily pay all of the 81 billion in medical debt that people have. That would leave them with a cool 1.78 trillion dollars, or an average of 2.97 billion per billionaire.
With that 1.78 trillion, they could give $7212.71 to each of the poorest 163.6 million Americans. That would leave them with exactly 600 billion dollars. They could split that money equally among themselves, and everyone of them would still be wealthier than every other person in the country.
I can see the comments in response to this article already: garbled interpretations of supply-side economics, incoherent red herrings about the Soviet Union or Communist China, slippery-slope nightmare scenarios of authoritarian socialism, and false dichotomies asserting that it’s either free-market capitalism or totalitarian communism.
I pride myself on my capacity for empathy, but I can’t walk a mile in the mind of a person pulling in 50k a year that still believes in late-stage capitalism. The world is literally on fire, children are dying on the concrete floors of concentration camps euphemized as “temporary migrant housing,” and forty-five percent of Americans have bound their identities with an ignorant, incoherent, bullying billionaire who believes every bit of the jumbled miasma that are his own lies.
This is a billion dollars: 1,000,000,000. Spend 100,000 dollars of that every day for a year and there will still be 963,500,000 dollars left. A billion dollars is more than any person needs in their lifetime, more than their children will need, or their descendants will need for one hundred generations onward. I don’t give a shit how much money they donate to charity, because it’s not enough. Fuck them. Fuck Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg and all the rest.
But think of all the things they’ve made that you use. You typed this on Google docs, you uploaded it using Windows on your PC, you shared this on Facebook.
Okay, but that has nothing to do with all the fucked up things happening as a result of unbridled free-market capitalism: The United States is descending into facism, wealth inequality is the greatest it has ever been in our history, and the planet is hurtling toward mass extinction.
And you’re more concerned that redistributing the wealth of billionaires isn’t fair?
After forty years of neoliberal economics and deregulation, our government has evolved to prioritize the interests of its citizens in proportion to their wealth. This has broken our representative democracy. Lax enforcement of already low taxes overcompensates an elite few with enormous quantities of wealth. In turn, changes to campaign finance law has further given these same wealthy elites a disproportionate amount of power and influence over the government. They are actively using this influence to permanently secure their positions of power. The end result will be that the essential component capitalism, free and fair competition, will cease to exist.
We can have a mixed-market economy that fosters competition and growth. We can live in a society with universal healthcare, affordable college education, and an environment protected from the excesses of industry. It wouldn’t be perfect. But it would be better than the increasingly oppressive plutocracy in which we now live.
Or we can be obsequious bootlickers like Nunes and Mulvaney, pandering to the people who shit all over us. But at least Nunes and Mulvaney get those sweet DC kickbacks for supporting the status quo. All we’ll get is poorer.