The richest 500 billionaires increased their wealth by a trillion dollars this year. Amazon's Jeff Bezos became $34 billion dollars richer this year, making him the wealthiest man in the world, worth over $100 billion. It shouldn't happen. There should be no billionaires and no person should be come $34 billion richer
I've written dozens of articles on how billionaires should not be allowed to exist, in my article series, The No Billionaires, De-Billionairize the Planet Crusade.
And I acknowledge. It is a challenge to figure out how to take the money from existing billionaires and how to answer the question of what to do with the money and who decides. But it is not an insurmountable one. The first step is to agree that nobody should have that much money and, worse, the power that goes with it.
I would argue that there are plenty of ways to handle the money-- or the stock equity that the increase in wealth is tied to. The easiest way would be to use a Bottom up approach and spread it around. Give it to the employees who helped earn the money. Give it the Amazon mechanical Turk pieceworkers who make under $5.00 an hour. Give it to the community that gave Amazon tax breaks to build there. Give it to local environmental . organizations, or national ones, since Amazon's packaging has created new problems and costs-- externalities-- that Amazon does not pay for. Matter of fact, use some of the money to fund research into ALL the externalities-- all the costs to communities, the environment, etc., that Amazon produces and does not pay for.
The Koch brothers should not be allowed to keep the additional billions they accumulated or profited. Earned is probably not an accurate word. They should be giving the money to employees, communities and unaccounted for externalities.
Some will argue that this will de-motivate Bezos and other billionaires from investing his time and creativity in building the company. I'm not sure that's true. Bezos is a brilliant entrepreneur and doesn't really need more money. But if it does discourage him, I think that's okay. He is building other new projects, like his space rocket venture Blue Origin. It's okay to use funds his efforts earn to create new projects. But after reaching a certain level of wealth, the profits should go to creating more projects that employ people or go back to the different beneficiaries I mention above.
Billionaires are bad for humanity, even the most well-intentioned ones. Their footprint is too big. Their power and influence too great. The first step is to agree on this idea. Then we can move to figure out how to prevent new billionaires from happening and how to turn existing billionaires into millionaires. No individual should be able to buy a half a billion dollar work of art or own a home that costs a quarter billion dollars. Period. As I've written, nature puts limits on growth. Unlimited growth is abnormal and malignant. Giantism is a disease. It is up to us to prevent it in human culture.
I'm not saying Jeff Bezos is a bad person (like the Koch brothers are.) He's doing what our existing system allows him to do. We need to change the system. We need to change our culture so billionaires are seen as abnormal, as hoarders, as pathologically greedy. I'm not saying all current billionaires are. I'm saying that we need to stop allowing the creation of billionaires and start the thinking that remaining billionaires are pathological and that healthy successful people joyfully share the wealth their work and creativity generate and do not expect to become billionaires.