has a short video on young billionaires. Specifically, it reports that among billionaires under 30, about half or more are billionaires because they inherited money or shares in a company. The youngest is the 24 year old daughter of a real estate mogul.
I've said it before-- the US should not support the creation, maintenance or continuation of dynasties. That's exactly what happens when billions are passed along to the next generation.
We've seen the kinds of people who inherit massive amounts of money-- the Waltons, the Kochs, for starters.
Why would a 24 year old woman deserve the power and influence of being a billionaire? There is no good reason... though there's no reason any billionaire should wield such power.
While it may be difficult to eliminate existing billionaires, eventually, these freak cases of economic giantism, these abnormal, by their nature dangerous threats to humanity will drop dead at least until immortality technologies are perfected, which will be in an estimated 25- 50 years. After immortality or even massive life extension is achieved (think of Dick Cheney, what he's been through) then it will be much harder to de-billionairize. Scenarios like we've seen in recent movies, where the wealthy despoil the planet and move into outer space will seem much more realistic.
One thing that we can do to stop new billionaires is to refuse to allow dynasties to be created. Create inheritance laws, with every conceivable loophole covered, that allow inheritors to receive a maximum amount of money and power-- say $20 million.
There are a handful of billionaires who say they are going to give all their wealth away-- Bill Gates, Warren Buffett-- for example. Well, seeing is believing. But if I tiny few can do it voluntarily, then perhaps they can point the way or ways to make the process something that is the law-- that every living billionaire MUST set up programs, arrangements, etc. that give almost all of it away, and that would include stucks and trusts and foundations.
Give them the chance to set up authorized programs and if they don't take every penny from them. Put the money back into the communities they profited from. Share the money with the workers and the environments they exploited. Put a portion of it into funding advocacy organizations that protect the aspects of the environment, the culture and the system that they took advantage of.
Hold truth and reconciliation hearings for billionaires where they are given an opportunity to apologize. Let them pass on a bit more to their descendants if they tell the truth and admit to their crimes, exploitations and abuses.
We still need to do a lot more to eliminate existing billionaires and prevent new ones from ever existing. This is a very big, complex project. As Noam Chomsky told me
when I asked him about the billionaire problem,
"... I mean you're right, there shouldn't be multi-billionaires while the United States has the worst poverty level in the developed world outside of Turkey, which is just a total scandal. That shouldn't be happening, but the reasons are institutional structures and specific decisions that have been made all along the line which create these situations and those can be reversed, in fact I think we can go well beyond that to much more just and free institutions in the first place."
There are a lot of existing institutional structures which must be changed or eliminated and new structures and approaches must be created. But ending dynasties and new, "child billionaires" is one simple start.
Frankly, the idea of dynasties has been around since the beginning of civilization. That doesn't make it right. It makes it another kind of long surviving cockroach. It's time to fix that aspect o f civilization, before civilization destroys humanity. I say humanity because the planet will survive. I'm not sure humans will. And yes, I believe that extremely wealthy individuals are a big, major part of the problem. I'm not saying hurt them in any way, physically. But I am saying stop them from continuing to do what only comes naturally to billionaires-- extreme, excessive influence over the course of government and functions of culture.
This is one of the biggest problems that humanity faces. We need to be talking about it a lot more. We need to be getting the idea out there, getting people thinking about it. Billionaires will fight back the way they know how, legally in public and illegally in secret. They will resort to murder and bribery and blackmail-- maybe not all of them, at least directly. They will hire second and third parties and organizations to do the dirty work. They will try to frame the people leading the efforts to fight the billionaire plague as negatively as they can-- as nazis, as communists, as crazies. But this cause is not any of those things. It is a response to a malignant aspect of capitalism that is bad for humanity and bad for capitalism.
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