Billionaires Should Not Exist

Chanho Lee and Weyni Kidanemariam

The anticipation of Jeff Bezos becoming the first trillionaire has revealed the pressing issue of the effects and ethics of capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system in which a country’s trade and market are controlled by private owners. It is seen by the upper-class as a safe option to lean toward because it offers protection of their status and wealth. 

Billionaires … have been making more money than ever, especially with the ongoing pandemic, while the vast majority of Americans are facing financial devastation.

However, this capitalist propaganda has deceived millions of people into not grasping the societal issues caused by this system. Western media tends to criticize foreign issues, while ignoring the similar poverty rates and wealth inequality in the US. It’s time to finally acknowledge how the wealthy contribute to the economic exploitation in our country, because they are the ones who are responsible. 

Billionaires like Jeff Bezos have been making more money than ever, especially with the ongoing pandemic, while the vast majority of Americans are facing financial devastation. Many struggle to keep a secure and stable life, while the rich continue to prosper. More than twenty million Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic. Simultaneously, US billionaires have gotten more than a trillion dollars richer, according to Forbes data. These billionaires continue to acquire more wealth on a daily basis, and the more money they attain, the more power they hold over the working class; the more easily they exploit labor for their capital gain. 

Unethical practices of labor abuse have been deeply ingrained and normalized in American culture. Not only do wealthy individuals and powerful corporations exploit the US working majority, they take advantage of labor laws across the globe that contribute to child labor and cruel treatment. For example, according to Global Labor Justice, huge fast fashion companies including H&M and Gap are guilty of mistreating their overseas workers by putting their employees under conditions of physical and sexual abuse. Children as young as twelve and thirteen are given the responsibility to create clothing with cheap material; many even have to face dangerous circumstances in order to mine for materials. 

This labor abuse is a direct result of capitalism.

This labor abuse is a direct result of capitalism, because it requires high demand and swift production, with no consideration of the wellbeing of those who operate this production. The demand will never be pleased, which results in a constant cycle of abuse of employees. Most people think that billionaires paved their way to where their wealth is at, but it is the working class and the global south who generate value. 

As a result, we need to start holding the wealthy accountable for how they use exploitative labor of underprivileged workers to maximize their profit. The prosperity billionaires own does not ethically belong to them and there must be redistribution of their wealth. We need to stop lying to ourselves that the wealthy earned their privilege and begin acknowledging the truth about this oppressive system by dismantling capitalism.

This piece also appears in our December 2021 print edition.