Essay: against the arrogance of the rich

Essay: Against the Arrogance of the Rich

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For Dahlia Namian, the author of this indictment, the arrogance of the rich has no limits. Among their most outrageous and grotesque whims, Namian highlights some of them, such as that of Elon Musk, the richest man on the planet whose fortune is estimated at more than $200 billion: he started, a little before “Earth Overshoot Day”, an electric car in space. “The Tesla Roadster will thus sail in a loop in space, for thousands, even millions of years.” Nobody seems to have been scandalized by such a fad that only billionaires in search of fame can afford, without worrying about squandering the resources of the planet. These people are often seen as geniuses, visionaries, great innovators, she laments. 

The numbers don't lie. The gap between rich and poor has grown steadily while the fortunes of billionaires have grown “as much in 24 months of the pandemic as they have in 23 years”. 

These billionaires have become so powerful that no government can control them. They mainly made their fortunes in the energy, pharmaceutical and agri-food sectors. And Canada is no exception. “The wealth of Canada's 64 billionaires has even increased by 57.1% since 2020.” 

In his novel White Dogwhere he denounces the racism of American society following the assassination of Martin Luther King, the writer Romain Gary speaks, for the first time, of a “provocative society” about these rich people who indulge in a kind of exhibitionism ashamed of their wealth. 

“The provocative society glorifies, in other words, the lewd prowess and lifestyle of the wealthy, while blinding itself to destitution and poverty. resentment they cause.” 

And despite everything, we admire them and we hoist them on a pedestal, she notes. 

“Think big!”

One need only remember Pierre Falardeau's film, Le temps des bouffons, where the Canadian aristocracy in this that she has most grotesque meets annually at the Beaver Club to strut and show off proudly proclaiming herself “magnificent“. 

We also think of the banquets organized for the swearing-in of governors general. We got some idea of ​​that with the release of former Governor General Julie Payette's expense report: half a million dollars was spent on that swearing-in ceremony, not including $32,000 for the open bar and $18,000 for curtains, flowers and other decorations. 

However, according to the UN's World Food Program, “nearly 50 million people are currently on the brink of starvation and 800 million live daily tormented by hunger”. Figures that should alert us.

On the side of the well-off, we wash our hands of it. “Think big!” they shout. If you are poor, it's your fault, you just have to “will” to get out of it and we never hesitate to set an example. However, while business leaders in Silicone Valley, California, pay themselves annual salaries of between $20 and $90 million, their employees are struggling to make ends meet. Yet, “it would cost only six billion dollars to feed the hungriest on the planet. Six billion, a paltry amount for the 1% club…”

Camouflage strategies

Namian cites as an example, among others, the foundation of Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecommunications magnate. This “philantrocapitalist” opened a private museum in honor of his late wife. 

“You can admire his own art collection there, made up of around 70,000 pieces. Van Gogh, Matisse, Rodin, Degas and Picasso stand alongside works by some of the most famous Latin American artists.” 

Or billionaire Bill Gates, who says he fights, through his foundation, against climate change, but has a $145 million palace built with precious wood from 500-year-old trees.

Or Mark Zuckerberg who has pledged, through his foundation, not to redistribute his phenomenal profits to the 99%, but to devote 99% of his shares in Facebook to “advance human potential and promote equality”. Nothing less. One strategy among others to camouflage the indecency of wealth gaps, she concludes.

An implacable indictment against “visionary” billionaires. 

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