A Benevolent Billionaire
During the three or four weeks I was stranded in the off-the-grid backwater I call Conundrum Canyon, cut off from Internet and cell phone access, I had a lot of time to think about a few things that had been bothering me:
- The devastation caused by the dozens of tornadoes wreaking destruction in the Midwest and the many thousands of new homeless and unemployed
- The still-unfinished reconstruction of New Orleans
- The economy
- Er . . . I’m still unemployed, despite having a BA, an MA, and a ton of experience in the fields most active at the moment: content creation, optimization, SEO, SEM, and Social Media Facilitation.
- State budgets that call for draconian cuts in personel and services
A solution that might satisfy most
Am I so megalomaniacal that I actually believed I could come up with a solution that would solve each of the aforementioned problems without:
- imposing a huge tax hike,
- creating an equally huge, state-sponsored bureaucracy,
- freaking out the conservatives,
- alarming the liberals,
- rallying the libertarians, or
- finally bringing fascism to the United States?
Am I really that certain of my own smarts?
Leveraging the super-rich: 400+ US billionaires
It was Ralph Nader’s book, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us, that got me thinking: If—as some estimates put it—70% of the nation’s wealth is controlled by 12% of the population, why not come up with a way to leverage those assets so that everyone benefits: The super-rich, the poor and unemployed, the rapidly shrinking middle class, the country as a whole?
Forbes recently listed—by state—the approximately 400 US billionaires. When you consider that $1 billion is equal to $1,000 millions, well, that’s not nothing.
So, here’s what I came up with: Ask each of these super (some might say “obscenely)-wealthy folks to chip in a bit of their assets to help their fellow citizens.
Heck, might as well throw in the multimillionaires, too.
- President Obama goes on national TV to plead the case;
- each Senator and House member contacts each of the millionaires and billionaires in his or her state and/or districts to donate a portion of their wealth ($1 million or more),
- to a fund that would go toward rebuilding the cities of the Midwest, hiring the best and brightest teachers for our schools and colleges,
- I hate this part, but I have to say it: Hire only only those who are in the US legally, except in the case of some very specialized skills or abilities.
It would be like a private-enterprise WPA, putting millions of unemployed Americans back to work, giving folks some much-needed breathing room.
And, why would they do this? Well, taking altruism or patriotism off the table for a moment, why not call it an appeal to egotism or rational self-interest?
- Egotism: erect statues, shout proclamations, name plazas after these benefactors. Hell, if somebody were to restore the legislative cuts to the University budget, I’d buy the sumbitch a statue myself!
- Rational self-interest: Hmm . . . forget this one. If the super-rich haven’t figured out for themselves that if the US sinks, their ultimate demise is just as inevitable, well my argument’s probably not going to help.
Now, readers must be thinking to themselves: This is too easy. Why hasn’t any body thought of this already? Well, my answer is, maybe they have. I haven’t read Mr. Nader’s book (the title was intriguing enough), but perhaps the answer lies within its pages.
Or maybe the idea has been debated and debunked elsewhere.
There’s a lot more to this so-called “solution” of mine, and if you’d like to know more about the nuances and arguments, well, that’s what the comment box is for.