Everyone’s favorite “pedo guy” is back again today with more opinions on what should become of you and your family.
“Another government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the people imo,” Elon Musk tweeted unironically. Elon, whose company has been built on the backs of workers whom he endangers (and who took advantage of a stimulus) as well as $4.9 billion in corporate welfare, thinks that anyone wants to hear his take on how the government should allocate taxpayer money — despite the fact that he himself does not pay taxes.
This is on the heels of his other Twitter debacles, including those that spread dangerous misinformation about the coronavirus, the very cause of the current crisis he has taken it upon himself to pontificate on, so that he could open up his factories early, led to SEC investigations of corporate malfeasance, and earned him slander lawsuits from people putting their lives on the line to help children.
The South African-born billionaire, whose wealth was built at Paypal in tandem with public enemy Peter Thiel using money his father made from exploiting an emerald mine during apartheid, went on to state that while he doesn’t think the public needs social safety nets, he is “in *favor* of universal basic income.” Let’s talk about why that might be.
In the nation that essentially replaced the Voting Rights Act with Citizen’s United, a dissolving democracy and crumbling social safety net has caused many Americans to plead for direct payment from the government as a form of relief. Looking at the sharp increase in joblessness, the looming homeless crisis, and the fact that many children will go hungry due to school closures caused by our irresponsible federal leadership, this almost makes sense. Hasn’t it worked in a few pilot programs?
Well, yes. Redistributing the absurd, almost limitless, wealth of the .01% of society does in fact benefit everyone, even the rich. However if we, as Musk proposes, replace social programs that provide food, healthcare, housing, and education to our population with cash payments, we’re essentially co-signing the replacement of those initiatives with monopolistic private corporations. Look no further than our schools or the healthcare market: If the rich are able to purchase the best medicine and schools for their children, the poor are, by default, given something less. Which creates a cycle by which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. UBI, in essence, is then a Trojan horse for replacing voting as a mechanism for holding the rich accountable with money — a thing that the rich, by virtue of being rich, control.
Put more simply — Billionaires like Musk would love it if society's only levers of power were money because he has so, so much of it. In an ideal democracy, the only thing you, the poor person reading this (and if you make less than billions of dollars a year, that includes you), have that it is unalienable and equal to people like Musk is your vote. Ideally, our control over the government is equal to Elon’s control over the government: One single vote. If we decrease the things which that voting power can control, by making schools and fire departments and food for children into for-profit businesses, we are essentially saying that the rich should be able to dictate who gets what. You can see why this appeals to Musk.
Lifestyles of the rich and the shameless — The reason Musk continues to indoctrinate people into his cult of personality, and thereby into helping forward his political agenda, is because his private wealth and power lend him the ability to shape his messaging with the glamour and volume that money can buy. Doesn’t Elon look cool on the red carpet at the Met Gala? Doesn’t his continued success mean his ideas must be working for him? And if they’re working for him, doesn’t that mean they’ll work for you, too? You’d think that a nation that continues to become disillusioned with the con-man-cum-reality-television-star that they appointed to the highest office in the land would begin to see that “running the country like a business” has glaring flaws. One of those flaws being that government exists to keep your boss in check. If the government starts paying you wages, what’s to stop it from making you work weekends? Who is there to step in when your boss wants you back on the factory line during a global pandemic? Who is the government ultimately accountable to? If it is indeed a "business" it would only be accountable to its biggest customers: The rich. If money is power, what is the government’s incentive to listen to voters and not just those with the fattest wallets?
When we identify flaws in our system, like starvation, homelessness, illiteracy, and disease, it is our job to directly address and correct those flaws. We do so by giving people food, shelter, education, and medicine, not by giving them each a cash bonus. The government can't keep minimum wage in line with inflation; if we turn it into the payroll department, what is the government's incentive to keep UBI in line with inflation? Zero. Those payments would shift down bit by bit as the ultra-wealthy, in lieu of government programs setting a price floor for things like healthcare, raise their companies' prices for basic necessities. Go to your local emergency room and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
Don't buy it — Americans, I know you are desperate right now but I am begging you not to let people like Elon Musk bribe you into giving away the things you, as a human being living in a post-scarcity society, are entitled to. Do not make a deal with this devil.