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Are they really worth it?

  • 08-06-2022 6:56pm
    Registered Users Posts: 352 ✭✭

    Interested to know what people's opinions of super super wealthy in today's world. Are they really worth it?

    So apparently Elon musk is worth on the order 220 odd billion. Here is a graphic that puts his wealth into perspective.

    Not saying people like Musk or Jeff Bezos don't deserve to be very wealthy, but how much is enough? When we have one of these individuals throlling the other on twitter with a silver medal in terms of wealth stakes is he not throlling us all by extension? No one needs that much money in my opinion, especially when many go hungry in the world.

    The individual space programs that all these mega rich have seem to me to be the height of narcissism. Are they doing anything useful at all?

    Personally I think the flat corporation tax on multi national organizations did not go far enough. It should have taxed high net worth individuals. Surprisingly I've been called a communist for wanting to put in an upper bound on wealth by some friends.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,622 ✭✭✭victor8600

    220 billion is funny money. The super rich cannot actually use those money to buy more than can be afforded by a middling Russian oligarch. In fact, a rich person with 1/10000 of Musk's wealth in one of the corrupt countries can basically ignore the law and morals as they please. Musk must content himself with semi-useful megaprojects. I think Moon and Mars exploration are worthy goals.

    "People going hungry" is not Musk's fault. Please read the The Bottom Billion book -- basically, you cannot throw money and free food at people, it makes the problem worse. You need to develop the infrastructure so that hungry people can sustainably feed themselves.

    But where is the limit for your interfering in other people's affairs? If you had $100 billion, would you go and "Fix starving Yemen"? Oh wait, Yemen is starving because Saudis are bombing and blockading them. Will you give the money to Saudis to leave Yemen alone?

  • Registered Users Posts: 352 ✭✭NiceFella


    I'm not talking about Russian oligarchs for the moment. You can start your own thread on them if you like.

    I understand that someone like Musk cannot utilise his net worth as much of it is tied up in stocks in companies he owns. But he would still have billions in capital at his own personal disposal. Personally I don't think there is any good reason why someone would have this much money. Can you give a good reason why someone would need this amount of money?

    Have I suggested to just throw money at it? For the record, hunger and poverty are not just a third world phenomenon. The UK has food banks country wide to tackle hunger/poverty. Many of the systems you describe that actually help tackle these issues are under funded, such as education.

    In the US It has been estimated that something on the order of 50 trillion has went from the lower 90 percent to the upper 1 percent between 1975 to now. This was a massive change in income inequality from the years observed 1945 and 1974 were the income disparity was more or less stable. However, real world wages have stagnated substantially for ordinary people, while the super rich have been propelled even higher than would have been reasonably expected before 1975. Naturally Tax take on this 50 trillion would have been down significantly (as wealthy find ways to reduce their tax bill) and also money put back into the economy was also down dramatically as a consequence.

    Bit random to bring up Yemen but ok. I would suggest that nations like the US stop selling the Saudis arms which would potentially help. Also money for food given the desperate situation there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,622 ✭✭✭victor8600

    If you are trying to make a point about the income inequality, don't use an outlier such as Musk as an example. He has too many eyes on him and his wealth is basically unusable for anything bar vanity projects. If he starts buying silly stuff or spends money on expensive prostitutes, this will reflect badly on the companies he owns and he will get booted out of them.

    It's not Musk or Besos that is a problem. The inequality is the result of the globalism. Have you read Capital in the Twenty-First Century ? So imagine Ireland introduces progressive taxation with say 80% tax on personal income higher than 500K a year. Fair enough you'd say. What will happen is suddenly all high income persons will move across the border to NI and will not pay taxes to the Republic.

    I would back a relatively high minimum income for all citizens instead. Enough to pay for accommodation, car, food and 2 week holidays in Spain. No other welfare except for the additional help for elderly and disabled people. This keeps the money in the local economy and does not push rich people out.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,425 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    The solution is not income tax, but wealth tax. The tax should be at a low level, but a real amount that allows genuine wealth redistribution.

    Start with a property tax on real estate because that is hard to hide. Make corporations that own property pay property tax specifically on that property.

    Then move onto wealth in corporation shares and tax that, with a requirement to declare beneficial ownership.

    Restrict the ability to offset losses, both from the forward carry against future profits limited to, say, five or ten years. Limit the sideways transfer of such losses to offset losses in unrelated activities.