Let’s Clear Some Things Up About Billionaires.

Because they aren’t swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck.

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

I recently came across a twitter video where a teen was playing a game called Spend Bill Gates Money. In the video, the teen shows things you can afford with Bill Gates’ net worth. One example is how he’s able to purchase all 32 NFL teams and still remain a billionaire. At the end of the video, the poster proceeded to self-pity herself about how she could barely afford lunch. The self-pity trope is used by many when referring to someone's amount of wealth.

“Oh, that person is making $20 Million a year. They’re a multi-millionaire and here I am working at taco bell for a minimum wage. Poor me.”

The twitter comments were just as bad. It was a battle between those who are ignorant of how wealth works and those who encourage others to create wealth of their own. This tweet is the kind to have the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders grinning from ear to ear.

Let’s Break A Couple Things Down.

It’s evident that finance isn’t taught much in schools, but that doesn’t excuse the internet-using masses for not knowing how money works. Then again, the majority of people are bad with money — so it makes sense. Lack of financial knowledge is why people equate a person's net worth to what they have in their pockets. (Hint: It’s not the same thing.)

1. Billionaires Don’t Have Their Total Net Worth Sitting In A Bank.

The definition of net worth is the sum of all assets owned by a person or a company, minus any obligations or liabilities. Bill Gates is worth $105 Billion dollars, but he doesn’t have that much to spend freely. He is worth that much largely due to his ownership stake in Microsoft. If he wanted to free up $200 Million in cash, he would have to sell some shares or go about securing a line of credit using his stock as collateral. Usually, these people have multi-million dollar personal accounts at the most. This shuts down any arguments that he can purchase the entire NFL the same way he can purchase a cup of coffee.

2. A Donation Is A Donation, Regardless Of Tax Implications.

Another argument people like to make is one that discredits wealthy people’s philanthropic efforts because they can be used as “tax write-offs”. Yes, charity is a tax write-off, but that doesn’t negate the countless lives that are impacted and changed for the better.

Wealthy people itemize their deductions and those deductions include charitable donations. Let’s say Paul made $100,000 this year pre-tax. In that same year, he made $3,000 in donations. The $3,000 is now subtracted from his income and he is now taxed at $97,000. The $3,000 isn’t money Paul get back, it is the money he is able to deduct on taxes.

If you were able to help others while also helping yourself, wouldn’t you do the same? You’re able to have your cake and eat it too. Wealthy people understand how money works and are looking to use as many benefits as possible. If I am a wealthy man who donated to a charity that helped feed starving kids for the next 2 years, whether or not I deduct the monetary amount on my taxes doesn’t change the fact that those starving kids now have food in their stomach. I am not looking for self-benefit, but if I can then I will take it.

3. All Billionaires Are Evil, Immoral People.

Wrong.

This is a matter of all individuals regardless of income. There are bad people in low, middle, and high-income classes. The notion that all billionaires are bad is pure ignorance. For them it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario because no matter what good they do, they will always be a villain in the eyes of others because of their wealth.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and other billionaires have signed The Giving Pledge, a campaign that encourages many wealthy people to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The list also includes Tesla co-founder Elon Musk, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and MacKenzie Bezos, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

There are countless examples of wealthy people who are doing their part in bettering the economy. Many also support a higher tax on the wealthy. I agree that some use their money for selfish reasons, but that brush isn’t one you stroke across the entire canvas. At the end of the day, immorality has nothing to do with money, but with people.

4. Billionaires Hoard Wealth That Is Crated Off Of The Backs Of Their Workers! Eat The Rich!

Woah there, warrior! Be careful with that pitchfork before you poke an eye out. Let’s clarify some things here.

Billionaires aren’t hoarding their wealth. It’s tied up in investments and their company's stock. That means the money is moving and not sitting around. As far as profiting off of their employees, not at all — it’s called a job. In every place of employment, you have a multi-tiered hierarchy and everyone in it has a role to play. You have entry-level, middle level, and senior-level management positions. Everyone has a level of authority and a position to play. The CEO can’t run a company without employees and the employees can’t find direction without a leader — which would be the CEO.

To put it simply — everyone relies on each other. Everyone is working together to keep the company running efficiently. In the workforce there is potential upward mobility, meaning you can start at the very bottom and get to executive-level position overtime. Everyone at a job is getting paid according to their position.

Amazon is known for its controversial work culture and there are a few others out there — but again — that brush isn’t one you can stroke across the entire canvas. Just like you have companies that have bad work enviorments there are companies that have good ones. It depends on where you work. All billionaire CEO’s are different and run their companies differently.

Lastly, we don’t want to get to a point where eating the rich actually involves cannibalism. “Eating the rich” isn’t a good solution to solve wealth inequality — it’s an anarchist mindset. The mob mentality will create a snowball effect. First to go will be the billionaires, then the millionaires, then anyone making six figures, and then your neighbor. The end result will be a free for all event with endless chaos.

In closing, we’ve covered four things:

  1. Billionaires (and millionaires) aren’t walking around with millions in their pockets.
  2. A donation is a donation.
  3. Billionaires are as moral or immoral as any other person.
  4. Billionaires aren’t slave drivers.

I used to be like many others who believed all wealthy people were selfish and corrupt. It wasn’t until I started to understand wealth and met wealthy people that I began to understand why things are the way things are. Things aren’t as black and white as people believe they are.

I one day aspire to be a wealthy myself and will do good with it. In my good deeds, I understand that some people will still hate me because of my wealth — which is fine by me.

I encourage those with this mindset to educate themselves on financial literacy. Life is tough, but a billionaire isn’t to blame for my problems. You shouldn't get upset because someone won’t spend their money the way you want them to. No one owes you anything in this world — and that’s how it should be. If you want to see things change, it’s up to you to make it happen.

Broke: Complaining and stressing over the things you don’t like.

Woke: Finding a way to change the things you don’t like.

As far as work ethic, we as humans can learn a lot from ants. Don’t be nice, be kind.

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