Can We Stop Glorifying Billionaires?

Time and time again, when asked of future career endeavors, the same objectives seem to consume many students’ hopes: wealth and influence. The age old statement of “I want to be a billionaire/millionaire/rich and famous/CEO of a business is somewhat constant. Being the daughter of working class immigrants myself, I can most certainly understand the strive towards social mobility due to previous resources my parents were denied upon reaching this country. I have always wanted to make up for what my parents gave up in bringing me here, but with such an aspiration comes an intensified desire of money because it is simply the only way to give my mom what she was denied upon entering. I want nothing more but to help the people closest to me to live in pure comfort and not constantly worry about mere survival. The same goes for the millions upon millions of ethnic minorities, immigrants and members of oppressed communities whom are denied everyday rights by the state itself due to the monopoly of the financial sector and who are further kept in abhorrent conditions, extreme poverty and in the same circumstances that keeps basic decency and income stability from ever being achievable.

It becomes increasingly obvious that the system was put in place in order to keep such inequality ever-repeating. Perhaps the problem does not lie with the want of money itself, nearly everyone wants the advantages that come with it. More specifically, the desire for basic human rights that come with monetary comfort such as healthcare, education, leisure, shelter etc. It would be absolutely incredible for everyone to have access to the knowledge and the safety catered for only those of extremely high economic standing. Conceivably, the root of the problem stems from the income inequality and almost impossibility of economic adjustability within this country alone. Such inequality as immense correlation with race, gender and sexual orientation. It is vital to note that the system holds a very racist tradition in which the starting point for a white person is starkly different from that of a Black or Latinx individual. Modern day capitalists acquire their wealth through dividing the lower class by race and further suppressing people of color; this behavior is often normalized by the media. This also speaks to the fact that, a lot of times, the rich accumulate wealth through a structure that is rigged to benefit them and only them. This economic structure maintains institutionalized racism; thus, white cis gendered heterosexual men are able to bank on unearned privileges. This pegs the question: Why is it that the top 1% of this country continues to own half of the entire world’s wealth and 40% of this country’s wealth alone? The problem is obvious. 

Before I delve into my contention, I think it’s crucial to understand that we were, in fact, conditioned to believe that money was the above all, predominant, focus of all of our lives. Through societal expectations, we are expected to be ruthless, competitive and especially individualistic; all traits of a capitalistic based regime. In essence, we cannot put the blame on ourselves for growing up and wanting the fame and fortune we are taught to cherish, but as an act of resilience, we can strive to dismantle the system put forth. Prior to expanding on my anticipated point, I want to first present a few companies that thrive off of the glorification of private affluence.

The social media platform Twitter has become notorious for spreading information on the dangers of capitalism. Whether it be atrocious stories of working conditions or the blatant abuse of power hidden within corporations, Twitter seems to act as an outlet of information. Recently, one user tweeted about their experience working at the Amazon Warehouse; the detailed tweet goes on to explain that if an employee’s pick rate went down, they would not receive pay. Additionally, workers were penalized for bathroom breaks; this then led a co-worker to attempt suicide. 

Apparently this is not the first instance of horrendous labor abuse. A later tweet by another user explains that these stories are recurrent.

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, makes close to $140 billion a year while a big number of his workers barely have the means to survive; the wage gap between him and the workers of the company itself is enormous, only contributing to the growing income inequality in the United States. The same conflict stands for other well-known companies such as Walmart, Whole Foods, Gap, etc. The list is severely extensive. A majority of these companies heavily exploit their workers by sweatshops, little to no pay or privatized prisons made for profit. Even simply having this much money while knowing full well that there are people struggling on the poverty line is appalling. The argument I am trying to get across is simply this: glorifying these multi-billionaires only furthers the notion that what they are doing to their workers is fine, when it is most definitely not. Yes, they periodically give to charities and a majority are “philanthropists,” but this does not change the fact that ending extreme social problems within this country would barely put a dent in their paycheck. Though it may not be feasible to completely boycott every company that holds an exploitation-based legacy, we can acknowledge the the continuation of such a systematic thought process and hopefully stop it for good.

In praising those who look to people as nothing but simple machinery or profit, we allow such abuse of power to thrive. Is the accumulation of a ridiculous amount of wealth more important than a literal life? Praising men who solely grasp their power at the expense of actual human lives promotes the behavior and the strive towards it. Yes, I would love enough money in order to allow my closest relatives, friends and myself to live comfortably, as would many people, but never to the extent in which someone else becomes compromised. Additionally, with this adoration comes lack of communal integrity and help. It is no secret that individualism leads to selfishness, lack of morality, bigotry and indifference. Such a mindset takes away from the fact that you should care about other people. I simply cannot give reason to an undeniable truth. Yes, it is your job to be kind and genuine, to understand those around you who may have not had the same privileges that you inherited and to fight for what is right. Communal effort is where real progress lies, not through pure hierarchy.

Photo: Getty Images

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