So you want to be a Billionaire?
At our tiny start-up company, Worthee, we spend a great deal of time debating social justice as part of our mission to help people in low wage jobs and industries rise and thrive. For the last week or so, those debates have escalated. Finally, we decided to start asking our own members, primarily people in low wage jobs, what they thought. We also spend $100 over two days asking the same question through promoted Tweets. The results caused even more debate… and further disagreement on too many levels to tweet about and probably even write about. This is a start.
First question, asked with little thought: Should Billionaires Exist?
For a $50 fee to Twitter, here were the analytics of that first tweet, with the bottom-line result being that approximately 50% of people with no targeting on Twitter believe it’s ok for people worth $1B or more to exist.
Interestingly, in the Worthee world, over 60% felt that billionaires should be “permitted” to exist.
We followed up that questions with one that felt more tied to what we focus on at Worthee:
Ok, so adding in the caveat that if you earn $1B by employing people who you pay less than a livable wage made a difference. But still, over 25% of the nearly 3,000 respondents are apparently ok with people amassing huge riches while not necessarily worrying about the welfare of those who work for them. And in the Worthee world, it was a higher amount… nearly 1/3 of mostly low-wage workers think its OK for billionaires to enrich themselves while the masses they employ struggle.
Here’s some simple math. If you somehow, without worrying about how, turned 80 years old and were worth exactly $1 Billion, that means that you have, in essence, earned $1,426 per hour for EVERY hour that you have lived (not worked) since you left your mama’s womb. The difference between $1B and $2B doesn’t sound like all that much, and even less so is $14B vs $15B, $64B vs. $65B. But the differences represent $1,426 per hour earned for every single hour of life you’ve lived and slept, and that’s only if you are 80. We had never thought of being a billionaire in these terms. And of course, all of us have thought about what it would like to be a billionaire. And most of us, without putting much thought into it, would turn down such an opportunity for dynastic, multi-generational wealth.
But… we have to ask… can one become a Billionaire without exploiting others along the way? Has it ever happened? We actually don’t know. But one of our Dartmouth interns is now like a dog chasing a squirrel on the front lawn of our Hanover, NH offices (formerly a fraternity, thus the lawn)… we are going to get this question answered.