Million dollar baby: how much money is too much?

Clara Kelly

Should billionaires be allowed to have that much money?

Everybody seems to be roughly on the same page when it comes to needing more control over wealth distribution in that taxes should be higher for the rich. 

However, the question of whether billionaires should be abolished totally is a far more complex and hard to answer question.

An article from The Guardian this year showed that Oxfam noted the world’s 26 richest people own as much wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of the population. With the charity calling for a 1 per cent wealth tax saying that this mere amount to these billionaires would still raise enough money to educate every child not in school.

The charity showed that the growing concentration of the world’s money had been highlighted in a report which stated the 26 richest billionaires possessed as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the population.

Oxfam even said 2018 had been a year where the rich grew richer and the poor poorer. On average, CEOs earn in four days what an average worker will in a year, so how can any human wielding that much power and money not be dangerous? Also, could it be said that anyone has rightfully earned millions or billions by themselves without advantages or privileges?

How is it fair for people to earn over a million or even billion while millions are homeless across the world, on social housing waiting lists and living below the poverty line?

Even when their extra money could, in theory, be used to fund better social services like housing, health and transport, we must also ask who is earning over a million and, if they held strikes, would it actually impact society as much as nurses, bin collectors and teachers?

It’s an illustration of an error in society, if anyone can make it to billionaire status. Taxation of the wealthy has to rise. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have all spoken out for taxes for the super rich, and for good reason.

I presume the reason the question of billionaires being abolished has been asked so frequently of late is because the answer is obviously yes. At least, they shouldn’t exist in the numbers they currently do now, being allowed to hold so much power while the rest of the global economy struggles to scrape by.

Communism may not be the way to go but allowing people to hold such wealth and power while ignoring the overwhelming disadvantages for the rest of society is just as bad. Billionaire abolishment would mean higher taxes on income and estate for billionaires and millionaires, which should only be seen as good.

However, some will always find any way to draw back to the somewhat nonsensical in my opinion argument that these people earned the wealth fairly and therefore shouldn’t be prosecuted for it. But then again, how fairly can anyone earn and keep millions, knowing how many people are suffering around the world as direct result of undistributed wealth?

Clara Kelly

Image credit: Róise McGagh