For Black Americans living—nay residing—in poverty, knowledge about billionaires, who have a lifestyle that is seemingly unlimited in consumption, pleasure, and opportunity, is a very cruel artifact of consciousness. Even the two certainties of life do not seem to apply to billionaires. For example, efforts are ongoing to determine how to transfer the consciousness of the wealthy into machines or cyborgs so death will have no sting for them. Also, the rich have accountants who eliminate the prospect of taxes—or at least minimize taxes to a level of relative irrelevance.
Yet, the poor do not arise/revolt in righteous indignation and demand a halt to this cruel reality. One party has wealth sufficient to support a grand existence nearly eternally. The other is unable to plasticize income so that enough calories are available until the next round of compensation. This cruel reality becomes more appalling when the “have not” is a child who not only does not receive enough nourishment to support proper brain development during critical early years, but also only has prospects for a lifetime of poverty, pain, and/or imprisonment.
But the underlying cause of the rich versus poor reality is often clouded significantly by a lack of knowledge that is endemic to the lives of poor “have nots.” The latter, and even some on higher rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, do not realize that they contribute significantly to producing the very billionaires who flaunt their wealth, exploit the entire society to the hilt, and take every action to avoid the sight of human suffering even when they are integral to causing that suffering through poverty and could help alleviate it.
Name a billionaire and it easy to link their wealth and “success” to government and its resources. Consider the following selected realities:
- Automobiles (gasoline, hybrid, or electric) would be virtually unsaleable if government did not construct roadways.
- Almost all green technology derives from research initially undertaken by scholars at research universities and institutions who benefited from government research grants.
- Social media only exists today due to the availability of digital communications, which was enabled largely by research at government laboratories.
- Rapid delivery of goods to all corners of the nation is only possible because government constructed highly efficient and functioning transportation facilities and networks.
- Wealthy financiers and investors are mainly successful because the nation’s mainly government funded banking system developed what are known today as FINTECH systems that manage voluminous financial transactions day in and day out.
- Wealthy goods producers take it as given that the government’s military will provide for secure passage through the air, on land, and sea of the final or intermediate goods whose sales are the source of their wealth.
- Billionaires, who are investing in space technology today so that they or their descendants can become trillionaires tomorrow, stand on the giant shoulders of government, which laid an excellent foundation for space exploration.
The seven foregoing realities highlight your role in producing billionaires. Your tax dollars contribute to the financial pool that funds government operations, investment in infrastructure and research and development, system and network development, and provision of security.
Whether income, excise, or property taxes, or the myriad fees that you pay during the normal course of everyday life are contributing in numerous ways to the pool of funds that ultimately facilitate the arising of billionaires.
But it is deeper than that. In route to becoming, and once, billionaires, those preordained or fortunate enough to navigate to economically powerful (wealthy) positions flip the script and then use their wealth and power to motivate politicians to enable favorable conditions that ensure the former’s continued economic success. How? Inter alia, the wealthy cultivate politicians to provide government contracts and research funds to them, and/or to lubricate regulatory wheels so that opportunities to sell their goods and services to the public fall without fail into their laps.
This description of reality makes no reference to merit. Therefore, we can conclude that social mobility in our society is not associated tightly with merit. In other words, the pablum we are spoon fed throughout life about smart and hard work leading to success is largely erroneous—it has little substantive “nutrient” value.
Under these circumstances, “what’s a sister and brother (Black and White) to do?” The question hints at a problem, which can be answered through research and, potentially, by innovation.
As a starting point, consider working with what you have: i.e., your socioeconomic and political life. Seek to optimize wellbeing through the following actions:
- Adopt a long-term view.
- Pursue individual/small group self-sufficiency and reliance.
- Treat spending as personal protests or economic warfare-related actions.
- Associate with others to pressure for a purer democracy and for a more meritorious society.(1)
- Prepare for potential crises that may occur due to the unsustainability of certain aspects of the current economic system.
In a perfect world, life would be “fair.” Unfortunately, we do not reside in a perfect world. Consequently, one must work diligently to produce an environment that is consistent with your requirements. Without doubt, you should be empowered to act because not only are you a survivor in a cold, cruel, and uncaring world, but you contribute regularly to producing billionaires.
This musing does not ask whether you aspire to become a billionaire? That question is of secondary importance. The point of relevance is that you and the rest of the society are, willy-nilly, producing billionaires. Given this role, it seems credible to question who decides who becomes a billionaire? When the latter question surfaces, the secondary question resurfaces as: What is preventing you from becoming a billionaire? Answers to that question may motivate you to work to change the fundamental nature of the society.
1 In connection with this action, consider Brooks B. Robinson (2022), A Purer Democracy under Cyber Governance: Future Implications for Black America’s Political Economy. BlackEconomics.org. Honolulu.