A TIME FOR BILLIONAiRES
I had always measured my observations of very large private financial transactions in millions. Talk of billions was limited to the federal budget on military or retirement spending.. But two recent news items tell me my perceptions are hopelessly outdated.
First, the board of Tesla has voted a pay package of $2.3 billion dollars for its chief executive, Elon Musk.
Elon Musk, his board declares, remains the man we trust
To guarantee our enterprise will surely not go bust.
Since he owns a fifth of TESLA this award is no big deal,
But we wanted him to understand exactly how we feel.
It’s true we’ve had our problems, our sales aren’t up to par.
We’re still waiting to produce the perfect automated car.
The color some requested we’re afraid they’ll never see,
And we can’t deny our service isn’t what it ought to be
But Musk’s the man that no-one could conceivably replace
We don’t want to see him trying to beat NASA into space
So to show that we admire him and enjoy his company
We’ve approved this modest payment of two billion plus point three.
The second item in my billionaire chronicles is
the announcement that Mackenzie Bezos will be donating at least
half her $37 billion divorce settlememt from Jeff Bezos to
charity.This provoked The Onion to make Jeff Bezos realize “he’ll
have to work for 9 seconds to earn back money he lost in
divorce.” My own satirical impulses are somewhat blunted in this
case for two reasons:
For one thing, Bezon is the publisher of the Washington Post,
which I favor as an anti-Trump newspaper. And then Mackenzie
has announced she will join Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda
Gates, etc, in making the “Giving Pledge” – a commitment to
donate half or more of their wealth to charity – provoking Jeff
Bezos to declare “I’m proud of her.”
“I’m proud of her, said Jeffrey, “Its a wonderfui decision.”
And many others recognize its boldness and its vision.
It continues a tradition that is nothing less than stellar
All those projects of Carnegie and then Ford and Rockefefller.
And yet I have to say that while it seems to be appealing
This whole approach instills in me a most uneasy feeling.
Multi-billion dollar fortunes are undoubtedly impressive
But the impact on our system is unhappily regressive.
It widens the divisions that tear us all asunder,
Giving all the gains to one per cent and leaving uis to wonder.
Is democracy a system that regards itself as healthy
When the masses are dependent on the handouts from the wealthy?
My proposals to prevent this aren’t remarkable or mystic.
They hardly qualify as even mildly socialistic.
To begin with cut the ratio that currently enrages,
Giving too much to the CEOs and not enough to wages.
And second -- though I fear this will be bitterly resisted --
Is a measure that by Wall Street wiil be instantly blacklisted.
Yet they’d find that opposition to the one per cent relaxes
If they closed those offshore shelters and simply paid their taxes.
These changes would be helpful, it surely would be healthy
To make us less dependent on the super-super-wealthy.
Democracy with lots of millionaires may be consistent,
But to many billionaires we’d better be resistant.