Letter: Count on billionaires? No, regulate them
I read a recent letter from Katherine Delanoy of Eagle with some sympathy. She was wondering why billionaires, whose wealth continues growing through a pandemic and climate catastrophe, spend their money taking little trips into space instead of on philanthropy for the seriously suffering or on addressing climate change.
I don’t think we should be looking to the wealthy to solve our collective problems, as though they were our feudal overlords. There is no reason to expect corporations or the heads of corporations to have any motivation other than making a profit. Capitalism is certainly an engine of innovation — some of it productive and some of it destructive and much of it trivial. People engage in business to make a living or get rich, despite all the silly stuff you hear conflating new products and services and the moral good.
This is not a criticism; it is the way this system works. However, a major systematic problem with capitalism is that it conceives natural resources as infinite and our ecosystem as indestructible, when in fact the ecosystem that allows us to exist is finite and fragile.
It is on us and our representatives to decide when businesses and individuals need to be regulated to protect the common good. It is on us to figure out when businesses are making profits by shoving costs or harms onto the public, and tax or regulate accordingly. It is up to us to make sure we have a fully functional government and competent elected officials and make sure that our policy is not being dictated by people gaming it for personal ends. I’d trade 100 acts of one-percenter philanthropy for one American Petroleum Institute minion being imprisoned for lying to Congress about global warming.
As for the billionaires-in-space program, they should have had to pay one heckuva carbon tax. Unfortunately, there isn’t one.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.