Sometimes I can’t help but to sit back and reflect on the insanity of the moment. With two catastrophes at our door, our best option is to leave one fire for another—and even that is proving difficult. We want to blame specific people and injustices as problem sources, but it’s a fruitless effort. Our situation today is the result of a long series of events spanning human history, happenings that share a common theme—extreme wealth concentration. Most people misunderstand the billionaire class. We’ll attempt to expel the illusions, creating new visuals to explain their roles in our society and questioning the value of their existence.
We can’t talk about billionaires without first acknowledging politics, because everything about our universe today is political. There are broad divides in the general consciousness of Americans, inherited circumstances unable or unwilling to grow beyond themselves. Average Americans view politics through the lens of duopoly, opposing political teams. The policy is an afterthought, and opinions take shape as a result of effective propaganda. Not unlike our favorite sports team, politics can be a projection of power in an otherwise powerless existence.
Is there any hope of instilling class consciousness in the general population? Yes, if we can create the right language. Facts are not enough, that much is evident to anyone paying attention. We need something better, a way of thinking about billionaires that is more than just numbers. By building a better story we can help others understand why our current laws support the destruction of the average American. COVID-19 presents us with a unique opportunity to expand knowledge and understanding of where we are, laying the foundation for new directions to where we need to be.
One of the first myths that we have to dispel is that being anti-billionaire is the same thing as being anti-luxury. The idea stems from projecting personal wealth into a broader context. For the majority of humanity, there is no apparent difference between a million and a billion dollars. Thirty-nine percent of Americans were already unable to scrape together $400 if needed , COVID-19 ensures us it’s going to get much worse.
It’s a mental block, we’re linear beings in life, death, and earning. For most, time has a direct relation to income. The exponential wealth increases billionaires’ experience is hard to relate to. For the average American, a billion dollars means the ability to access things they need and want without worry—something we all desire strongly. We can’t localize misunderstanding to lower economic classes, plenty of people from middle and upper economic classes agree. Why shouldn’t billionaires be able to pursue happiness like the rest of us?
The answer to the question is time. According to the Forbes 2020 list of billionaires, over 88% of the people within the category own more than just one billion dollars.  Some quick math shows us the impossibility of billionaires having any concerns related to want or needs. Imagine you could spend $1000.00 per hour on material goods. If you never slept and bought things every hour of every day, it would take you 1,000,000 hours to spend your first billion. Divide that by twenty-four hours per day, and we learn that it will take 41,116 days to diminish that billion. Divide that by the 365 days in our year, and we conclude that it would take 114 years of spending $1000.00 every hour to spend our billion dollars entirely. We’re not even counting the interest earned on billions each year. The math shows us that the billionaire exists well beyond concerns of luxury; the fact is that they simply could not spend that amount of money if they tried.
Material needs are something for those petty millionaires to worry about. Billionaires are cosmopolitan at this level of economic class, living far beyond the realm of material need. This, in itself, is no crime. As a collective, we should believe in and work towards every person rising above basic material needs. By removing survival-related barriers, we free up tremendous amounts of creative brain space for millions. At our present moment, this level of security is something most people only dream of.
The historical narrative of work is that effort equals security and prosperity. Work hard; do well. It’s no surprise that one of the most common responses defending the billionaire class is “People should keep what they earn.” Our earlier math example demonstrates that applying a linear relationship between work and prosperity cannot accurately be used when describing the billionaire.
There is a great irony with the poor conservative defending the billionaire class. More ultra-wealthy individuals built fortunes from work in the new knowledge economy than from any other industry in human history. Working in traditional manufacturing ties dollars to hours. Creative work is not an hourly pursuit, allowing for much higher earning multiples than possible with conventional labor. Many corporate layoffs to support big executive bonuses demonstrate beyond a doubt that job security is an illusion. Our old idea of work broke its promise to the people, and with it, the idea that time and earnings correlate consistently.
Defending the billionaire class through the idea of incentivizing wealth is another concept we need to lay to rest. The meme of the temporarily embarrassed millionaire American is an implanted ideal. Wealth is an incentive in our society because it’s directly correlated to survival, and popular culture promotes it as desirable. As the philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger would say, “money is a poor social glue.” We serve ourselves favorably by developing new methods of encouraging workers to support the economic opportunities of the present. It starts with significantly raising the floor on basic needs support and continues with expanding training opportunities.
Making wealth our primary priority also leads to the all-too-familiar trend of institutional decay. An organization, full of energy and imagination, creates new public behaviors through new ideas and efforts. After a long journey, the founders are ready to move on. The only viable options today are going public or selling, opening up access to company shares and exponentially increasing personal wealth. The most common result is that companies stop innovating and start financializing. By making public offerings the most direct path to economic freedom, we ensure that the most successful pieces of our social puzzle worsen over time.
Luxury and money cannot be the pinnacle of human pursuit; they are unworthy of the effort. That means we, as a society, will have to invent new forms of incentivizing people to act. We could explore new avenues of incentivizing innovation such as digital social currencies, opt-in social credit scores, and individual luxury through social ownership. Everything about our laws is subject to change. We cannot be afraid to experiment with new programs to encourage innovation.
What needs to be clear to every American is that the progressive has no interest or intention of taking away any person’s ability to live in luxury. Deconstructing the billionaire class is not an effort to remove the incentivization of excellence. It is an effort to reclassify what we define as incentive within society. We could easily separate unlimited luxury from the political and economic power that being a billionaire brings.
Incentivizing people to experiment is the central objective of the progressive project. What must be understood is that our collective powers can only be enhanced as far as our circumstances will allow. When three men control the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the United States, it’s time to rethink how we define freedom to luxury.
Successfully defining what a billionaire is not requires us to have a clear understanding of what they are. Billionaires are people who have the legal rights to large productive networks within society. Their ability to spend and leverage capital allows for the expansion of economic and political power limited only by time and imagination.
The best way to think about American billionaires is by comparing them to medieval kings. Kings inherited large land estates generating taxation revenues. On the king’s land, their language was law, the fate of everyone around them bound to their whims. Power and legitimacy stemmed from the divine right of kings, putting the individuals beyond the statutes applying to mortals.  What was true for kings remains true for billionaires, extreme wealth concentration provides tremendous power.
The concept of kingship is one rooted in a distant universe—a brutish life, with many unknowns further complicating existence. Power structures were absolute and uncompromising. The most significant risk to stability was resistance from nobles. Wealth concentration would be comparably worse than today, especially because so many poor died young. It also mattered whether or not the king was sane, as it would contribute to huge swings in the general well being of people of the era. Sound familiar?
Beyond raw capital power, kings also were tightly networked with other rulers. The poor and the rich are both subject to the law of attraction–it is common to group together with like minds. It’s easy to forget that World War I began as a feud between three ruling cousins. King George V of Great Britain, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany were close childhood friends.  Over 15 million people died in World War I, a steep price to pay for the whims of small groups of nobility. Today billionaires are funding the anti-quarantine protests, treasonous actions  that will directly result in death.
Monarchy in the past and present has always been supported by religious reference. Western religions are inherently hierarchical, worshiping an omnipotent being whose influence and judgement directly impact our lives. The mixing of church and state is a practice dating back to 380 CE when Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire with the Edict of Thessalonica.  The tradition of churches supporting kings and kings supporting churches continued throughout the medieval era, creating two distinct types of political powers in the world.
Religious hierarchy paves the way for mortal hierarchies. By conditioning uneducated masses to believe that the universal power pyramid places God and king together at the top, religion has made a false connection true. Connecting political dominion to religious dogma naturalizes the arrangements people are born into. It is divine will to have the majority born into abject poverty, challenging these institutions is heresy.
Today many understand that the billionaire is no more divine or righteous than the peasant, oftentimes their actions are interpreted to be less so. Still, the nature of hierarchy persists as a natural force in our minds. By surrounding ourselves with these arrangements before birth and after death we give grossly unequal power structures the same legitimacy as universal laws. Modern science is now questioning universal law, recognizing that these laws were different in our past (e.g. immediately after the big bang) and therefore have the capacity to change in the future. The same theory can and should be applied to social hierarchies.
Today we recognize kingship for what it is, a method of assigning power based on luck. Nothing is more out of our control in the universe than being born. We can only ever be where we are. Often that’s undesirable, other times incredible. If a long history of Magic the Gathering has taught me anything, it’s that I’d rather be lucky than good. There has been no more significant impact on my life than being born as a middle-class white male in New Jersey. Swap the descriptives to fit your narrative, and the truth remains.
The debate over whether or not billionaires should exist is the same question of whether or not kings should exist. Which explains why everyone who understands present wealth concentration is not radically opposed to the billionaire class structure. Humanity has a long history of the ultra concentration of resources. Much of it incorrectly justified by present positions in time. It is not unfamiliar to us for others to have much more.
Times have changed, but many themes remain the same.
Today billionaires typically control specific verticals of society through direct ownership as founders or indirectly through share ownership. Their wealth gained through building organizations at the right place and time, or inheritance. Decades of political bribery and sponsorship solidifying their legal power and wealth creation in modern society.
To see the billionaire class as they are requires a bird’s eye view. We are judging ourselves on our collective (as opposed to individual) progress and advancements. Today many American industries exist as independent parts of the whole, all controlled by actors with agendas. Billionaire wealth exists in extensive ownership of organizations, giving them the power to dictate futures to voiceless masses. Like a body where every organ makes its own decisions, it might work, but not as effective as it could by collaborating.
Examples are all around us. Jeff Bezos controls consumer goods logistics, Mark Zuckerberg controls communication, and Elon Musk controls space travel. All three are easy to recognize, but did you know about billionaire Harry Stine? He influences our food supply through modern seed genetics, building his fortune by licensing his seeds to multinational food conglomerates like Monsanto and Syngenta. Vital aspects of our society are under the control of unelected individuals. Now the pandemic forces us to question if they should be.
The relationship between king and billionaire begs the question, are luck and divinity different?
If they are different, then we must stifle the power of the billionaire class. We believe that luck is a weak foundation for security and social organization. Redistribution and reformation are the only logical outcome. Not because the billionaires are inherently bad people, but because our current laws allow for too much randomness in economic power dynamics. The philosophy supports the view that the universe is our shared experience. Together we empower ourselves more than any single one visionary can. Therefore social organization that gives thousands more power than billions is incompatible.
If they are the same, then everyone deserves to be exactly where they are. After all, it is undeniably true that every moment since the big bang has led up to this very word. Our experience is one of the absolute present, creating futures moment by moment. If all luck is the act of higher intelligence, then there can be no questioning our current conscious coordinates. A convenient logic if you’re free from need, but it fails to take into account the loss of creative productivity by letting birth lottery determine potential. Unfortunately, this belief often stems from dogma. Our error is trapping universal intelligence in a static historical perspective. Those who believe this will support the present federal wealth transfers as the natural order. Actions condemning tens of thousands to die in the process.
As always, there is a third alternative, luck and divinity can be both different and the same.
The same because our current laws make it a reality. The United States is entering an era of wealth inheritance that would make kings jealous. Rules the significant majority have had no say in crafting force us into dominated states, denying the majority access to their higher selves. We also understand that many billionaires are above the law as the layperson experiences it. We have the power to dismantle the billionaire class but lack the will. Like Kings and Lords, billionaires buy political actors to secure their status. Ensuring that policy will never favor the everyday person.
Our laws support and embrace the birth lottery as the highest form of soulcraft. If the time-space we are born into dictates our reality, then today we impose an element of supernatural order onto every new being. Statistically speaking, most people will never have access to the opportunity and resources necessary to self actualize. We chose this directly or indirectly, becoming our gods in the process.
Different because billionaires exist under separate reality frameworks than kings, just as the rest of us do from medieval peasants. Their success is not wholly luck-based, and many have made positive contributions to the general welfare and species advancement. They’re a product of a system that rewards creativity and focus, qualities we want to encourage and reward in society—forms of luxury and power that only really extend as far as we democratically choose.
Now humanity exists in a different plane of consciousness than those in the medieval era. When we understand the direct correlation between wealth inequality and human suffering, we force ourselves to reevaluate personal humanity. Is this system just or right? As bad as it has been, COVID-19 will bring new levels of suffering to the global poor. Knowing this, we separate luck and divinity, demanding the universal right to change. It is the most natural and necessary path for humanity, one that embraces our momentary existence for what it is—endless opportunity to transform.
The question of luck and destiny always ends where it begins, personal choice. Deciding to let go of the past we knew, recognizing that no amount of pretending will ever bring it back. Our long history of legal indoctrination presents an incredible challenge, but today circumstance sides with the majority.
Billionaires, like kings and gods, are always what we chose them to be. Ultimately a more transcendent form of living requires the individual choice to change the universe. Our technological prowess has laid the communication and information networks to move beyond what was. Like the gods and kings of the past, billionaires will become historical relics. Humanity will be better for it.
 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System 2018https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2018-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201905.pdf
 World’s billionaire list Forbes 3/18/2020 https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/
 Divine Right of Kings Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings
 Nicholas II of Russia. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_II_of_Russia
 Devos-Funded Group Organizes Protest Against Michigan Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order by Alex Kotch April 17, 2020 PR Watch
 18 U.S. Code § 2383. Rebellion or insurrection Cornell University https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2383
 Church and State in Medieval Europe Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_and_state_in_medieval_Europe