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Max’s Opinion

Eat the rich


obody needs a billion dollars. Nobody deserves a billion dollars. And yet, there are approximately 2,754 billionaires around the world today. If you look at the latest Forbes billionaires list, you will notice that there are only a few industries that make it possible to obtain such an extraordinary level of wealth – these include extraction of natural resources, retail, media, real estate and technology. Half of the world’s ten richest men (and they are all men) made their fortunes through selling computers, software, or online services. While identities of the oil sheikhs and Russian oligarchs are kept relatively obscure, technology billionaires have become household names - we have all heard about Jeff Bezos (net worth $134.9 billion), Mark Zuckerberg ($71bn), Larry Ellison ($58.5bn), Larry Page ($48.8 bn) and Sergey Brin ($47.5bn), and of course, the man who started it all, Bill Gates ($95.7bn). At the end of January, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Michael Dell ($28.6bn) and his audience had a merry laugh at the proposal by some of the young voices within the Democratic party to adopt progressive taxes of up to 70 percent on incomes over $10 million. As I’m writing this, the video is doing the rounds online, as taxes become, however briefly, a national conversation in the US. As you might have guessed, laughing about the matter didn’t go down too well. We can’t fight inequality without taking some of the money away from the ultra-rich - in a world of finite resources, that’s just not possible. At the same time, you could argue that taxes benefit billionaires in a very direct manner.

It’s taxes that keep their employees healthy, productive, and safe. Taxes

“Every billionaire is a policy failure” Dan Riffle, policy advisor to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

pay for the roads used by delivery trucks, and for the United States Postal Service that gets those Amazon packages to their destination. Taxes pay for the glorious DARPA, which remains an engine of American-made innovation that no start-up cluster can match, and the National Laboratories that may win the race to exascale (p14). Taxes also pay for the federal data centers that Michael sells to, and Jeff wants to replace. Dell and friends act like they are royalty, but they are nouveau riche, a startling example of just how far you can get removed from the common people in a single generation. Yes, they give to charity, but some argue this is yet another example of attempting to wrestle power away from the state. We need higher taxes on the ultra-rich. An alternative method of resolving economic grievances was proposed in the US and France in the 17th century. Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said: “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” Sometimes, when I get angry about the state of the world, I wonder what Jeff Bezos would taste like.

Max Smolaks News Editor

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DCD>Magazine Issue 31 - Exascale  

DCD>Magazine Issue 31 - Exascale