And what’s up with all that space travel?
Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, is going to space on Sunday (July 11). Woo-hoo, I guess.
The 70-year-old junior astronaut — vanity label — will leave Earth tomorrow for a 90-minute suborbital flight, thus beating Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in the wacky space race by 9 whole days.
But that’s OK, since Bezos’s Blue Origin mission will literally place this billionaire — don’t lose count — at an altitude that is 12 miles higher than the one that will be reached by Branson’s crew.
All of this crazy stuff will be watched from the ground by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and Mars colonization enthusiast. He’s not going anywhere at the moment.
Just like Musk and millions of other space travel fans — my estimate —, I will watch everything on a screen. Here is how you can watch it too.
I am one of those people who root for this type of activity in general. I am looking forward to any scientific advancement regarding humanity’s space programs, and I do believe that we need a Plan B for when Earth will be sick of us as a species and will no longer provide for us whatever it is that we ask of it to survive.
I am thrilled that wealthy individuals take an interest in all-things-space and pour large amounts of their money into the development of space missions.
But not that many people share my enthusiasm. Hence, this article.
Whenever a rich guy talks about space missions, countless comments pop up on their social media accounts, from people accusing them of using the money for meaningless endeavors, when there are plenty of things here on Earth to be fixed still. Severe issues, such as, you know, world hunger.
Branson’s been counting the days to his suborbital flight, in short Twitter posts, throughout last week. “Why don’t you use your billions to save starving children, you a-hole!” or “buy vaccines for the poor countries”, are the summaries of many of the replies he’s getting. Poor guy, he can’t even have this moment. (See what I did there?)
But are the people commenting in these threads right?
Should the world’s rich use their money to end world hunger and similar pressing issues? And even more, do they have a moral obligation to do so?
I’ve been teaching and advocating for assertiveness and critical thinking for over ten years now, so I have this — some may say bad — habit to analyze pretty much everything through these two enormous lenses.
I’ll do the same for this topic. Bear with me.
Spoiler Alert: I will start with my conclusion.
5 Reasons Why I Think Billionaires Do Not Have An Obligation To End World Hunger
It’s *their* money. They can do whatever they want with it.
Just like you and I, the world’s richest have made their money in the way that made the most sense to them, and are entitled to using their earnings in whatever way they see fit.
It’s their right to do so, after they — cough — pay taxes and all — end cough.
There is no intrinsic obligation that comes with making money. Regardless of how large of an amount you’ve made.
Like all other people, billionaires get to call the shots regarding the destination of their money.
So, whether they buy cars, real-estate, expensive and yet cheap-looking clothes, it’s their right to do that. The same goes if they want to fund space missions, pay their tickets to space — by the way, the price is now around $250,000 — or simply study how many jawbreakers a million dollars can get them. Blue jawbreakers.
You don’t get to say what other people should or shouldn’t do with their money. It’s aggressive.
There you are, on the internet, virtue-signaling your care for the world’s hungry children while screaming at a billionaire to feed them.
It doesn’t make you a philanthropist. It makes you an internet troll.
While you might be thinking that you are doing a good deed and starting a movement that will create enough social pressure for these rich individuals to say, “Here’s my money. Feed the world.”, you’re actually harassing those people.
And harassment is not kind.
You only get to control what happens to your own money. Whenever you’re trying to get into somebody else’s business by guilt-tripping them, you’re being aggressive.
And speaking about your money… and mine…
We’re not doing everything we can to end World hunger either.
Look around you. In your house. Look at your car. Look at that fancy cup of coffee in your hand. I’m looking at mine.
Yeah, with the money we’ve spent on all that stuff, we could’ve done a lot of feeding of the poor as well.
We’re just as “guilty” as those billionaires. Most of us have money to spare, and we often choose the $100 t-shirt over donations or sandwiches to give away.
No, don’t say “But the billionaires have way more!”. No. People should not be punished because they’re ahead in a race they’ve prepared for or simply were lucky enough to score more points than you.
It is what it is. We each have what we have. No one owes anyone a thing.
Many may choose to share their wealth or earnings, but there is no obligation in that sense. So, we each share whatever we consider appropriate to share, whenever we feel like sharing.
The rich donate a lot, anyway. Likely, it is way more than what you and I donate.
Whether it matches their beliefs and social perspectives, or simply for tax purposes — I said what I said, many of the world’s most wealthy already participate in significant donations of various types.
When you’re screaming that they should feed the poor, you saying that they should give even more. Why?
I see no reasons why these people should not receive the credit they deserve for their already existing good deeds and why they should be welcomed with a new unreasonable demand instead, each time they want to share something that seems, to most of us, an extravagance.
We’ve already hired people to end World hunger. They’re just doing a very bad job, and we’re not holding them accountable for the failure.
Yes, we’ve collectively chipped in and paid specific individuals to deal with the issues of hunger, homelessness, and other poverty-linked subjects, in our own countries.
It’s your government.
That’s who should end world hunger. Or at least poverty, in our area.
You, me, billionaires of all sorts, and everyone else… We pay our taxes. Most of us. And there should be prioritized programs to manage the most pressing issues in our society.
If your government does not consider hunger and proper housing a priority, and we do not demand that of them, then we’re all at fault here.
They’re not doing their job, and we say nothing about it.
Instead, some of us find two or three scapegoats on the internet and start yelling at them the things that they should be yelling — in writing , preferably—at their state’s officials.
Wrong goal. Wrong target. Mission failure.
So, how about it? Should we start taking relevant actions to fix the issues in the world that belongs to all of us, or should we continue screaming in 280 characters or less at the dudes who get to accomplish one of their life’s dreams, and who are naïve enough to think we’d cheer for them while they do so?
Ask a mirror.