Monday, January 22, 2024

#22 / Instant Stratification

The smiling face of Elon Musk, above, seems an appropriate accompaniment to this blog posting, which comments on an article that appeared in the January 18, 2024, edition of The Wall Street Journal. The article was titled, "Musk Gives Tesla's Board a Big Headache." 

Musk is credited with being the "richest person in the world." According to a January 2024 article in Investopedia, Musk has a net worth of $229 billion. Anyone who might have a hard time grasping just how big a number $229 billion is is might begin with this explanation from Paul Franz:

People don't have a strong intuitive sense of how much bigger one billion is than one million. One million seconds is about 11 days. One billion seconds is about 31.5 years. 

Take in what an immense number $1 billion is, and then multiply that number by 229. You get the picture. $229 billion is an "ungodly" amount of money. It's what many might call an "obscene" amount of money. However, let's save our outrage for the news conveyed by that article in The Wall Street Journal

In the article, readers are informed that Musk has told the Tesla Board of Directors that he needs a raise in his salary. A considerable raise! Musk is currently the owner of about 13% of Tesla's shares outstanding. He has demanded that he be given a 25% ownership interest. According to the online version of the article in The Journal, that amounts to a "$60-billion plus pay package." 

I like my title for today's blog posting. It will make us all think, I hope, of the phrase "instant gratification," which psychologists tell us has a "dark side." A salary raise that so vastly increases economic and social stratification is definitely a "dark side" phenomenon. 

There is a solution. It's called "politics." Musk is the number one example of a group of individual persons who have been permitted to sequester vast wealth, and the power that goes with that wealth. There is, as Bernie Sanders is fond of reminding us, a "billionaire class." There are, apparently, something like 750 billionaires in the United States

The political and legal arrangements that have allowed the growth of this "billionaire class" can be changed. However, not by writing blog postings (though those don't hurt, I am hoping). Organized political efforts - what amounts to a "revolution" - is what must occur. That doesn't mean killing a bunch of people, either. 

It does mean that hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of ordinary people will have to decide that their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor will be pledged to what The Declaration of Independence called for in the first place - a society, an economy, and a political order in which all persons are created equal, and in which their individual ability to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, will be supported by their collective efforts, and not be allowed to perish from the Earth. 

Our revolution renewed. This is what we need!

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