Opinion: Billionaires should not exist

Opinion%3A+Billionaires+should+not+exist

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One billion dollars is a ridiculous amount of money to have. Being in possession of close to $160 billion, as Jeff Bezos does as of June 2020, is absurd and morally wrong.

The CEO of Amazon has come under fire several times for the way he uses money within his company. From pathetic worker wages to unsafe working conditions, Bezos hoards his fortune while his hard-working employees suffer. The average hourly pay for a warehouse worker at Amazon is $15, a wage that is nearly impossible to survive on.

For example, the average cost for rent in Massachusetts is $1,173. Working a 40-hour week on $15 brings a weekly income of $600, meaning that rent would cost nearly half of a worker’s pay. This does not take into account food cost, childcare, transportation, or other necessities.

While Bezos lives a cushy, greed-infested life, those who work for his company suffer. In February 2020, he bought a $165 million mansion in Beverly Hills. This is an extraordinary amount of money, yet is only 0.1% of his net worth.

The wealth that he has amassed is unfathomable and wrong, despite however many philanthropic actions he may take. Simple donations to charity do not discount the fact that it is blatantly wrong to be able to have such a sum of money.

For example, billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, among others, have signed the Giving Pledge. Through this pledge, they vow to donate at least half of their wealth to philanthropy. Yet, Gates’s fortune is over $102 billion as of April 2020, raising the question of where the rest of his wealth would go.

In April 2020, Bezos pledged $100 million to Feeding America to aid in providing food for those facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis. This amount of money seems like quite a generous sum, however, it is only 0.06% of Bezos’s net worth.

Billionaires’ wealth is often viewed as a political issue, with politicians arguing over whether or not there should be a wealth tax, or whether billionaires should have higher tax rates than those who are not. But this isn’t a political issue – it is a moral issue.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bezos has accumulated $34.6 billion and American billionaire Mark Zuckerberg has garnered an extra $25 billion, as reported by CNBC. Overall, American billionaires have become $434 billion richer as of May 21 while the unemployment rate reached a peak of 14.7% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics.

It is a destruction of morality to accumulate that much wealth, and no one deserves to have that amount at their disposal. 

Here’s why. 

The gap between the average American salary and the amount of money Bezos earns in a year is disquieting. According to the Social Security Administration, the average yearly salary for Americans was $50,000 in 2018. Even Americans who perform jobs that require an expensive college education and an extensive amount of work do not make nearly as much money as Bezos and will never come close in their lifetime — as they shouldn’t.

For example, the median yearly salary of a surgeon — a job that requires a doctorate degree and the completion of life-altering operations — in the U.S. is around $400,000. Bezos claims a yearly salary of $81,840 and collects $1.6 million in security services a year, as reported by Morning Star. But that doesn’t matter because his net worth is over 95,000 times that amount.

The existence of billionaires is a vivid example of the money-obsessed society that we live in. It is also a demonstration of systemic racism, as less than one percent of billionaires in the United States are Black. The three richest billionaires in the United States are white men with a combined net worth of over $300 billion, while the wealthiest Black billionaire, Robert F. Smith, has a net worth of $5 billion.

According to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, over 550,000 Americans are homeless on any given night. In 2018, 11% of households in the United States struggled with food insecurity, as reported by the Economic Research Service

Furthermore, it should be considered criminal to have Bezos’ net worth when millions of Americans are struggling to survive off of their paychecks.

While people struggle to make ends meet, billionaires amass a wealth of such magnitude that it is hard to wrap your mind around it.

Billionaires should not exist. Furthermore, considering this to be an “extreme” viewpoint shows complacency with the amount of strife faced in American society and around the world.