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Op-Ed: Billionaire browsing — Voyeurism or just boring?

Billionaire browsing is an Off switch for your rational thought.

Tesla chief Elon Musk is the world's richest person, but a US judge ruled that he has been getting paid too much, voiding the entrepreneur's $56 billion compensation package from the electric vehicle maker
Tesla chief Elon Musk is the world's richest person, but a US judge ruled that he has been getting paid too much, voiding the entrepreneur's $56 billion compensation package from the electric vehicle maker - Copyright AFP/File Sergei GAPON
Tesla chief Elon Musk is the world's richest person, but a US judge ruled that he has been getting paid too much, voiding the entrepreneur's $56 billion compensation package from the electric vehicle maker - Copyright AFP/File Sergei GAPON

Billionaires are the epitome of success. They’re what you’re supposed to be. They’re also the formula for proof that capitalism works, and that everything’s fine. If you check the news about billionaires on any given day, they get more media space than most wars.

People are fascinated. The inaccessible big money is the only real attraction. You could buy a train set, or something more décor-like, say, a government, or some other fun thing with that kind of money.

The “news” about billionaires can be categorized into:

Gossip.

Criticism.

Racial slurs.

Money.  

To say that most of this news has no right to call itself news is redundant. The financial stuff has a shelf life, but overall, so what? From a writing perspective, it’s largely an excuse to grovel or to take sides fearlessly with people who already agree with you. The actual news, like “So-and-so buys world” might be in there somewhere.

As a demographic, billionaires have become sanctified to the extent of being the only names worth dropping. That’s not a good place to be. Like politicians, they’re seasonal. They’re fashionable for a while and then replaced with some other supposedly human billboard.

Hardly new, but the names draw the hits. To be fair, anonymity isn’t a real option. Whatever it is involving a billionaire will ooze out into the mainstream sooner or later.

They’re not just rich bric-a-brac, though. Philanthropy, appreciated and otherwise, is a common thread in billionaire-spiel. This is where the coverage goes off the rails. Gates is being accused of “skewing” medical research, for example. The theory is that selective areas of research are narrowing the focus of research.

Ah… Maybe not. Do you know of any non-specific research? Any at all? One of Gates’ long-time areas of research is malaria. It’s one of the most destructive of all diseases, and it puts all wars in history in the shade for numbers of deaths. …So, he should do scattergun research?

Also, these funds are “offset against taxes”. That’s been the case for over a century. You want to abolish tax breaks for charities just to make a point you can’t make? There’s a lot of this stuff rattling about as “news”.

Meanwhile, there’s always Musk, at least for now. Most of the news about Musk is bad. He’s suspended Yulia Navalnya from X. He hasn’t done himself too many favors with his policies on X and has successfully antagonized just about all of the progressives on Earth by creating a platform for trolls of all types. Musk is only atypical in that his annoying behavior is largely new and different from earlier infuriating people. Other billionaires have been diligently infuriating in many other ways for years. He’s just the current model.

…Which brings us back to billionaires as a topic. How useful is it to be fascinated with billionaires? Not very.

It’s like a cartoon show. New strange, bizarre things come on the screen. You react. Then they’re gone, to be replaced by a stunningly original new sitcom about a dysfunctional family with a sassy kid.

It’s the same thing. The noisy kid, like the guy with the money, is the unavoidable focus. Some grow up. Some don’t. Not many crash and burn, but a few do. Some might not be sued by everyone they’ve ever had anything to do with.

The only real surprise is that they don’t do more merchandising. An action figure called George (Sauron) Soros would sell to some credulous bigot, surely?  Elon of the Flies? …And that all-classic “L’il Donny T vs the Mob” with a cast of thousands of lawyers and lots of overpriced merch.

To put it another way – Meh.

Billionaires are people to bounce your biases and prejudices off, true. They’re grounds for just about anything you can fit into a sentence. “Life is unfair!” is the usual result. Gee, ya think?

Billionaire browsing is an Off switch for your rational thought. I’m not much of a fan. Sure, they’re irritating. Decisions are made by people who generally weren’t billionaires when their logic was growing up. See a pattern forming?

When I do the meta for this article, I’ll have to use those names. Let’s see if the theory holds.

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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