Feels like you can't go a week without some billionaire making it abundantly clear how deeply ingrained their greed truly is. Turns out that's what happens when you hold onto enough money to live off of without working for the rest of your life 10,000 times over. At a time when the working class in U.S. is working way more than they should be, it's particularly egregious to stand up and say "Not my billions!" It's also disappointing when some of the solutions proposed aim at treating symptoms of our capitalist society, instead of chipping away at the core issue. We discuss all of this and more on this week's Waypoints. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.
Austin: [The piece] starts with a central claim that is so important to return to again and again. When you consider how much the economic output of our country has boomed over the last century, consider the fact that frankly we do not need to work this much, [consider] the degree of efficiency that has entered into the workplace, the degree to which one workers eight hours now produces X amount of wealth, and [consider] who gets that wealth that is produced, it indicates how [much] we have the ability to [work less]. I think this is actually why it's a little flippant when it gets down to the bit where it's like, "how do we do this?" And almost as an aside, Ryan Cooper says "luckily all the above problems are easily fixable."
And I actually love that it takes that position, because they are. Reforming the marketplace, reforming the market, reforming the way labor works in this country will not overturn the system in such a way that it stops functioning. I say that obviously as someone who would like to do more than just light reforms, but those reforms that would benefit real working people all around the country, and long term I suspect all around the world, would not make it so that we wouldn't be in this office tomorrow making content.
The economy wouldn't fall off the rails, what would happen is some people who are extremely rich would become only a little less extremely rich in the process. Also, fuck off Bill Gates.
Patrick: I was just going to say, in my head the entire time was the Gates quote. I don't have it in front of me.
Rob: Look, the next time you spend 100 million dollars on bad education policy, you can speak. Until you have flushed billions down the drain on poor educational premises–
Patrick: Booker and Zuckerberg did that whole failed initiative some years back too right? And that was a lot of money, right? That was in the billions?
Rob: Well, there was that whole [moment] Zuckerberg [said] "I'm giving my fortune to charity," but it was like a personal charitable trust?
Patrick: That's how they all do it. They're giving it away through an LLC that they control. There was a tweet thread or an article that [said] along the lines of "It's so hard to give away your money, because your money just keeps making money. Rich people, they want to be philanthropic, but it's just, it's hard to give away your money!"
Austin: If only they would maybe give some of that money to policy groups that were advocating for higher wealth taxes, maybe that would help them lose their money. Anyway, the Bill Gates quote, he's talking about wealth taxes here. It's "I've paid over $10 billion in taxes. I've paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $20 billion, it's fine. But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I'm starting to do a little math over what I have left over."
The answer by the way is $6 billion. If you just took a lump sum $100 billion away, but that is also not actually what would happen under Elizabeth Warren's proposed tax plan. He would still continue to make money indefinitely is the actual math.
Patrick: His money would make that money back that he lost probably.
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