Do Billionaires Get a Bad Rap?

Monopoly-ManA famous man once said “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I thought about this as I was talking with my friend Bryan yesterday. The subject was NBA and MLB players striking in protest against the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by the Kenosha PD, and Bryan was saying that it can’t always just be the players. The owners need to stand up, too.

He’s right, but I have very little faith in owners. It’s nearly impossible for a person with a soul to amass a billion dollars. “Less sociopathic” is the best we can hope for.

I mean, remind me – who is Colin Kaepernick playing for this season?

As to my reply, though, what do you think? Is it possible to be a billionaire and a good person at the same time? It’s odd. In theory it should be easier for the rich because they’re free of the oft-corrupting demands of need. Billionaires rarely have to steal bread to feed their starving children. Or, in an example from closer to home, billionaires don’t have to serve clients with shady ethical practices just to pay the rent.

Of course, that probably has the question backward. It isn’t can a billionaire be a good person, it’s can a good person become a billionaire.

We sometimes point to examples, like Warren Buffett, who routinely argues for a more equitable economic policy. Some folks respect Mark Cuban’s stances on social justice issues. Bill and Melinda Gates have given away the GDP of a medium-sized country. And a Google search for [good billionaire] returns plenty of nominations.

Maybe. I don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of how all these fortunes were amassed, so possibly one can reach the top of that mountain of gold ethically.

It seems clear enough, though, that if you are a “good billionaire” you’re the exception.

And if the people with all the money are so rarely good human beings, it says something dire about the system that produces them and it has pointed implications for policy reform.

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