Experts Discuss the Rise of Public Backlash Against America’s Billionaires

Joel Eisenberg

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Author’s Note

The following is a revision of a previously published NewsBreak article. This is not an opinion piece. Attributions for all quoted statements and conclusions are linked throughout and credited to experts in the field.

Introduction

According to a recent Chuck Collins update on Inequality.org, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, billionaire wealth in the United States increased 70% since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. See here.

From the update: In March of last year, there were 614 Americans with 10-figure bank accounts. Today there are 745. The $5 trillion in wealth now held by 745 billionaires is two-thirds more than the $3 trillion in wealth held by the bottom 50 percent of U.S. households estimated by the Federal Reserve Board.

It should be noted this current Inequality.org update was published on October 18, 2021. Today is December 27, and we are well in the midst of the Omicron scourge.

Meantime, our nation’s billionaires have continued to get richer.

Backlash

When Jeff Bezos in his July 20th news conference said after his initial Blue Origin space flight: “I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this,” his comment drew widespread and swift condemnation.

Quoting from the New York Times, July 20, 2021: “Space travel isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon. “We pay taxes on plane tickets. Billionaires flying into space — producing no scientific value — should do the same, and then some!”

Blumenauer’s comment was also widely reported, which itself led to further backlash. See here for a July 25, 2021 ABC report, entitled “Backlash Over Bezos Spaceflight Sparks Debate About Equity in the Cosmos.”

On Socialism and Free Market Capital

Merriam-Webster includes the following within its definition of socialism: A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

See Wikipedia’s entry on the widespread criticism of socialism, here.

At once, some say the majority of U.S. citizens are fascinated by the billionaire class. See here for a recent CNBC report, “Why So Many People Hate the Super-Rich — But Still Love Elon Musk and Bill Gates, According to Psychology.”

The conclusions of the CNBC report make a distinction between more pubic billionaires and the rest of the billionaire class.

On a general basis, MoneyWise.com reports: “How Does It Feel to Be Rich? Here is What Rich People Say.” Some of the views expressed in that article relate to having the world weighing on your shoulders, everyone thinking you’re a bank, and people expecting the worst about you.

Online comments referencing this piece include this one, paraphrased, as perhaps the most common: ‘Our country’s richest can solve the homeless problem in minutes, as opposed to furthering ego-driven businesses.’

Public words from members of the billionaire class itself, as seen in Jeff Rose’s Forbes article, “20 Inspiring Quotes About Money From the Richest Billionaires,” imply anyone can become a billionaire with a focused work ethic. See here for the article, which includes the following selection of quotes:

  • Bill Gates: “If you are born poor it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor its your mistake.”
  • Michael Bloomberg: “America is built around this premise that you can do it, and there are an awful lot of people who are unlikely to have done it who did.”
  • Sergei Brin (Google co-founder): “I feel there's an existential angst among young people. I didn't have that. They see enormous mountains, where I only saw one little hill to climb.”

Jeff Rose, in the introduction to his piece, credits the billionaires quoted for financial inspiration: Ever wish you could spend a few days with some of the world's billionaires, just to learn some of what they know? Maybe not to become a billionaire yourself, but to find out just enough to kick your own finances into high gear?

Conclusion

As many Americans lost jobs during the pandemic, the billionaire class became increasingly wealthy, which statistically punctuated the issue of income inequality.

Such is considered a trade-off by many critics, however, for living in a free market, capitalist society.

What do you think?

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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