Yesterday, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, Space X and partially, PayPal, became the world’s richest person with a total net worth of $185 billion dollars.
Absolutely astounding. Jawdropping. The kind of money that would make you question your very existence.
Well, he has done it, and I think anyone following Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) will not be surprised, after a year of gut-wrenching speculation, the stock continues to rise to levels unforeseen to many behemoth & seasoned investors. For those backing Musk, he is the gift that keeps on giving – adored by self-starters, young investors, and an army of EV (electric vehicle) enthusiasts, you just cannot fault the guys persistence as an entrepreneur.
Despite his heroism, Musk’s rise to the top paints a darker picture for the wider western hemisphere – and without forgetting Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s continual advance to immortality this point should be doubly disturbing for those worried about the flow of capital and wealth in our society.
A study by Pew in 2018 noted that the top 20% of earners in the U.S. are steadily bringing in more of the nations income than ever, growing by 10% since the 1960’s. Furthermore, the pandemic saw another 10% increase, this time with respect to billionaires.
Across the pond, the grass does not seem to be greener either, the wealthiest 10% in the UK saw their incomes rise four times faster than those in the poorest 10% according to the Guardian.
This was pre pandemic.
Like many readers, you will be quick to point out the fact just presented was from the guardian, probably the most left leaning news outlet in the UK where the whole platform is built around socialism, but quite simply, this phenomenal transfer of wealth should be more than comprehensible If you have paid any attention to the headlines during the pandemic.
Big business is giving small business a good hiding, a phrase in the Britain with the rough translation of utter domination.
Whilst McDonalds continues to remain open, family run cafes close their doors.
As pubs sink towards the seabed, takeaway coffee outlets and zoom calls have become the new mecca.
Where we stay inside, Amazon thrives, and quickly, it is becoming the accepted norm.
I will not or at least will try not to demonise the online world as a huge part of my own pursuits rely on its continual growth and innovation but there has come a point where I have felt no lesser than an algorithm throughout the pandemic. Marketing has become so targeted that I am not even sure If what I want, or need is really what I want or need.
Adverts in my feeds are all focused on the “hustle” and the “digital nomad” lifestyle; hellbent on telling me that I am better off giving it straight to my boss and asking him to ‘f*ck off’ and that I should take back my financial freedom.
This is a scary predicament if you ask me, but Musk, Bezos and Gates and their tremendous wealth have become symbolic of automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence. The only images I can see in my head are reminiscent of those in a Victorian workhouse on a global scale, except this time, Dickens is not there to narrate our suffering. A long-held anxiety of mine is failure; the fear of “not making it” to put things mildly and those figures above only cement that angst.
I am a big believer in the benefits of capitalism and its ability to lift humans out of strife, I see no other system even moderately competing yet with the rise of China and an increasingly multilateral world would you be wrong assuming our incomes will stop growing, pensions will dwindle and automation taking over life as we know it.
Right now, I do not believe you would be.
Wealth breeds wealth, billionaires create opportunity whether you like it or not and I will not argue with the record levels of comfort and convenience we all live under thanks to men like Musk and Jeff, but you must begin to ask yourself where your own life is going to fit into this brave new world and what will happen to those left behind.
I am not talking about “decline of the printing press” or the “textile industry dying off in Britain circa 1900’s” sort of thing, I am talking about that beautiful concept of opportunity and how we make it possible for even the poorest to overcome all odds.
More than ever, do provisions need to be put in place and remain in place to ensure we do not bury the next Elon Musk in a lifetime of poverty.
Cash is the springboard; opportunity is the name.
Capitalism…you’re going to rehab!