What are billionaires made of? What do they see in the mirror? Do they see unyielding greed or distilled ignorance? How do they continue to live seeing those depraved reflections, day in and out?
When we lay out the facts, it’s obvious that the remarkably wealthy think nothing of the world and people around them. The external cost of their wealth has obscene implications for both their own well-being and society’s.
The Pursuit of Extreme Happiness
In 2017, Harvard Business School researchers Grant E. Donnelly and Michael Norton exposed their U.S. wealth-to-happiness correlation research in the Wall Street Journal. They didn’t reveal anything revolutionary, but they did articulate a concept well:
…diminishing returns: the difference in happiness between people with incomes of $50,000 and $75,000 is larger…than between people with incomes of $75,000 and $100,000.”
“…The more we have of it, it seems, the more money wears off. Indeed, research by Nobel laureates Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton suggests that the happiness benefits of increased income diminish around $75,000—in part because increases beyond that point likely don’t exert as large an impact on people’s ability to live comfortably.”https://www.wsj.com/articles/even-for-the-very-rich-more-money-brings-happiness-1512662638
Their article retells what many other studies of the last few decades have already proven: money is not directly proportional to happiness. It can’t be. How could a billionaire potentially be one thousand times happier than a millionaire? Are we not all the same biological species?
Although money can buy experiences, objects, stability, and security, recent studies portray that the money-to-happiness correlation severely tapers off at a U.S. household income threshold of about $250k/year. Indeed, beyond “living comfortably” at an annual household income of between 75k-100k/year, most people will only find that their excess money beyond that has little to no correlation to any real increase in life satisfaction.
All of this is to say that billionaires, on average, do have the potential to be more happy than the average laborer—but only marginally more so than the token millionaire.
A Playground for Monsters
Sum of Happiness ÷ Number of Individuals = Average Happiness Per Individual
If the optimization of average happiness per individual over time is not the guiding principle of a national government, then that government is wrong. Not wrong as in incorrect—wrong as in the evil stemming from the spectrum of selfish gain. If we cannot agree that a political system should abide by the above formula as a method of perfection, then not only are you are wasting your time reading this page, but I also urge you to revisit the concepts of humanity and government.
The United States of America overvalues the acutely slim chance of superfluous financial growth at the cost of greater economic success and stability. For two and a half centuries, the U.S. has cultivated an atrocious model for any sort of widespread, steady monetary success amongst its populace. As a result, the average U.S. household endures below the living comfortably income range. Although money does not equate to happiness, the commonplace shortage of that threshold does directly indicate a shortage of happiness.
In other words, the United States government has failed, and continues to fail, its ultimate goal.
Along those lines, let’s pinpoint a few truths about the United States economic climate, 2020 pandemic or not:
- No one is worth that much. Nationally, a heart surgeon in the U.S. makes about 500k/year on average. If that doctor practices for 40 years, they might make 20 million in their entire lifetime. A BILLIONAIRE is worth at least 50 times that. If someone self-righteously argues that their worth as a person—due to their skills, talent, and hard work—is worth more than hundreds of other families combined, I would say that person is either drunk, a disgusting human being, or both. There is no world in which someone should ever earn or retain that amount of money.
- Tax breaks for the wealthy? Why is this a question? Regardless of circumstance, no company, person, or other noncharitable entity worth more than $10 million dollars should be able pay less than 10% in annual taxes, regardless of circumstance. If someone who earns that much can jump through tax loopholes and come out even relatively unscathed, those loopholes need to be tightened.
- Bailouts and Stock Buybacks. Stimulus packages need more red tape. Bailouts simply don’t increase shareholder confidence enough to warrant their repugnant dollar values. Yes, the government might aim to make the money back on loan interest, etc., but is that interest greater than the stock market’s average rate of annual return? Not even close. No, instead corporations take advantage of fiscal risk when they can, then ask for forgiveness when they need it. At times like this, the pruning feature of capitalism is nowhere to be found. On that note, stock buybacks need to be enforced. The greater unemployment rate has been largely unaffected by any of the government’s bailout attempts—partly because rather than reinvesting, billions of dollars end up funneling back into the companies stocks. Corporations attempt to downplay preventative failures and cover losses due to initially profitable, volatile, and reckless tendencies. Stock buybacks should be condemned as they undermine the entire driving force of the shareholder capitalist engine.
- A last truth: the U.S. market will survive. We’re not even close to the end of this thing, and through plunges and rises of a global pandemic, the S&P persists steadily. If anything has been proven, it’s that time heals the stock market’s wounds.
“The rich get richer” should not be a groaning, melancholy turn of phrase; it should be a notion that is attacked by any sensible political system. Don’t mistake those words as envy—as stated previously, a billionaire is hardly likely to be any happier than my grandmother’s heart surgeon. Nor is the statement a grasp for the extra money needed to fund less-fortunate political agendas in an indebted country.
It’s simple. The government should be actively searching for ways to decrease the wealth of the gargantuan outliers through either taxation or other form of expenditure. Letting so many of the labor force struggle through the tax system while the obscenely rich run amok contradicts human principles.
Nothing short of an overhaul would put us back on the right track, but there is at least one easy solution to pinpoint. Assumedly due to corruption, payoffs and the like, this potential answer has never been realistically initiated.
An Easy First Step – Proportionate Taxation
It’s not that billionaires should be forced to give up their fortunes—rather, that opportunity should have been nothing more than a pipe dream in the first place. On either a company or individual basis, a proportionately exponential increase of taxation to wealth should be unavoidable.
That’s it. Was that so hard?
A Nonpartisan Conclusion
Do all of the above paragraphs above convey leftist notions? Certainly, to an extent. However, as someone who struggles to remain as neutral as possible in the voting booth, I’ve decided that I don’t want to consider billionaires as fellow Americans. I instead see them only as part of the problem. They are the ones who will slowly soak up money without any significant increase in happiness. If they see us as humans, they must view themselves as gods; if they see themselves as humans, they must view us as dirt. For there is no other explanation for someone to have that much money.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, except for billionaires and those that enable them.
At some point, the millions must morally outweigh the hundreds. And for those arguing the “unfairness” of being multi-million dollar rich instead of billionaire rich—well, I’ll say it, those people should probably check themselves for selflessness and real, true happiness.
To me, this was more than a soapbox rant. Like all of my other posts, it was an expression of a thought that I’ve had for a long time—this one just happened to take political form. Thanks for hearing me out.
Go forth and read, my minions.