Tesla CEO and ultimate tech brother Elon Musk apparently isn’t content with just being the richest man in the world – he also needs to make the rest of us realize how great his lifestyle is. frugal.
Speaking in a TED interview on Monday, Musk said: “I don’t even own a place right now, I’m literally staying with friends. I don’t have a yacht, I don’t take vacations, so this It’s not like my personal consumption is high.An exception is a plane – but if I don’t use the plane, I have fewer hours to work.
Bring out the little violins! The richest man in the world has no home! Or a yacht!
Let’s get one thing straight – if Elon Musk doesn’t own a home right now, it’s by choice. His comments, perhaps in a misguided attempt to sound relatable, are a slap in the face for anyone who has ever experienced homelessness or lived in precarious housing. He’s not exactly having trouble scraping together enough money for a deposit on a one-bed apartment. To say it’s irrelevant would be an understatement.
Musk released his spiel “spinning in spare rooms of friends” after being asked about being “extremely offended” by billionaires, per TED’s Chris Anderson. He said: “It would certainly be problematic if I were consuming billions of dollars a year in personal consumption, but that’s not the case.”
I’m afraid Musk missed the point. Forget ‘personal consumption’ – his net worth (estimated at £207billion) is inherently offensive. Most people on the planet currently live in poverty. Two-thirds of people live on less than $10 (or around £7.70) a day. One in 10 people live on less than £1.50 a day.
Musk has amassed a personal fortune greater than one person could ever spend in his lifetime (even if he spent £1m a day for a century), a fortune larger than the GDP of nearly 100 countries and whose only a fraction of £4.6 billion would be needed to end world hunger. The fact that multi-billionaires exist even in a world where one in three people don’t have access to clean water is a travesty.
Before you sharpen your pens to write a reply telling me that I’m just jealous, or that I must have a problem with people who are successful and do well, let me be clear: that’s not the question. I believe it is fundamentally wrong to hoard large amounts of wealth. Musk defends the indefensible.
Inequality is a social evil. It means suffering, misery, poor health and premature death. Musk’s claim that his life, with his fossil fuel-guzzling private jet and his $43billion (£33billion) bid to buy Twitter, is somehow simple or frugal should only cut the ice at anyone outside of the billionaires club.
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Musk is well known for shooting people on Twitter about wealth and taxation – notable examples include Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — so that might be a bit of a sore spot for him.
Unfortunately, his philanthropic record is considered poor (sorry!) compared to other billionaires, and his donation of $5.74 billion worth of Tesla stock in November last year had the added benefit to drastically reduce his tax bill, which doesn’t exactly scream altruism to me.
Has Musk’s extreme level of wealth impacted his powers of reason? Does he seriously believe that because he doesn’t own a house (or a yacht) right now, and only has a private jet for work, his wealth isn’t problematic?
Musk is set to become the world’s first billionaire. When he hits that jaw-dropping, incomprehensible milestone, I wonder if he’ll choose to spare us the drivel about how trouble-free his “self-consumption” is.
My perfect world is one where there are no children starving or dying of cholera or dysentery from drinking dirty water; where no one is forced to sleep on the street, wrapped in pieces of cardboard. And no billionaires.