In recent years, a swelling chorus of Americans has grown critical of the nation’s bajillionaires. But in the extraordinary week gone by, that chorus was drowned out by a far louder and more urgent case against them. It was made by the bajillionaires themselves.
One after another, four of our best-known billionaires laid waste to the image of benevolent saviors carefully cultivated by their class.
It is a commendable sacrifice on their part, because billionaires, remember, exist at our collective pleasure. If enough of us decided to, we could enact labor, tax, antitrust and regulatory policies to make it hard for anyone to amass that much wealth while so many beg for scraps. It is not only the vast political power of billionaires that keeps us keeping them around, it’s also the popular embrace of certain myths — about the generosity, the genius, the renegade spirit, the above-it-ness of billionaires, to name a few.
As of this writing, Elon Musk is running Twitter into the ground, with much of the company’s staff fired or quitting, outages spiking and everyone on my timeline hurrying to tell the app the things they have been meaning to say before it departs for app heaven (or hell?).
In tweeting through one of the most extraordinary corporate meltdowns in history, Mr. Musk has been performing a vital public service: shredding the myth of the billionaire genius. [Continue reading…]