It’s Fantastic That 85 People Have The Wealth Of 3,5 Billion

A while ago I came across this 1-minute long video, in which Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary was asked about his opinion on Oxfam‘s freshly released statistic that the 85 richest people in the world have a wealth equivalent to the 3.5 billion poorest. His reaction? “It’s fantastic.”

After spending a good five minutes laughing at his reasoning, I began to think. This is a well-educated, highly intelligent person, who is convinced that inequality truly is a good thing, and here I am, advocating open-mindedness yet not even sparing a thought to the idea that he might be right. So in the spirit of open-mindedness, let’s think about this. Could he be right?

First of all, if you haven’t already done so, I suggest you watch the video. It only lasts for a minute and it’s definitely worth the time. Once you’ve done that, let’s have a look at the argument: according to O’Leary, it’s a good thing that we have such extreme inequality, because it motivates people to go out there and to try and achieve the same thing as those rich people did. The poorest people on this planet will be able to look up to the richest and think “wow, I want that too, so I will work hard for it!”

As much as that doesn’t fit in with my worldview, maybe it isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. Having a role-model is very beneficial and can inspire people to do great things, so perhaps he’s right: perhaps income inequality is a good thing because it will give the poor the inspiration to go out there and to become the new Bill Gates. Because if you work hard, anyone can….

Yeah, okay, that’s about enough. I tried, I really did, but open-mindedness has a limit, and that limit lies at stupidity.

Even if the poor are motivated by knowing that wealthy people exist, how can these statistics ever be positive? Isn’t he basically saying that it is a good thing that we have such extreme income inequality, because then people will be more able to fight income inequality and to climb to the top? How is that better than already living in that less unequal world we’re striving for?

But that’s just assuming that his argument is actually correct, because if you think about it… is someone living off a dollar a day without any access to education truly going to look up to Bill Gates and think “yeah, I’m going to do that!” And is the prospect of being rich really such a great motivation? I don’t think I even want to be that rich, considering what it might turn me into. Money isn’t the ultimate goal in life. It’s a tool, specifically one that about 3.5 billion people are lacking.

Ultimately, Kevin O’Leary is just another businessman who has become infected by his money. Before becoming rich, he probably already had a liberal market-ideology, but now that he’s got all this money, he has lost touch with reality. He still sees capitalism as this perfect system that allows everyone to become rich if they work hard for it, not realising what the world is truly like outside of his cocktail parties. He has been indoctrinated by his surroundings, and from the comment “Don’t tell me that you want to redistribute wealth again, that’s never gonna happen,” you can see his hatred and fear for anything that even sounds like Communism.

Kevin O’Leary is a man driven insane by his own wealth and by the anti-communist age he grew up in. He has let the media and his surroundings indoctrinate him with exaggerated pro-capitalism views, and that has brought him to irrationality. No matter how intelligent this man is, his biases have made him lose track of reality. If there is anything we can learn from this video, it’s that we have to resist our own biases, or we might just go from being very clever to being very, very ignorant.


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More on this topic from Dean Richards:

Being Selfless Is Extremely Selfish

We Are All Ignorant: Social Media and the News

Gay Rights and War: Russian and Western Politics are Equally Ignorant


About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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4 Responses to It’s Fantastic That 85 People Have The Wealth Of 3,5 Billion

  1. Whey says:

    I agree that wealth distorts reality. While 85 people having the same wealth as 3.5 billion others speaks to the level of achievement possible, it also speaks to the tremendous amounts of inequality in the system. Inequality makes people work harder, yes, but it is an indicator of greater forces (like socioeconomic oppression). If you’re at the top and the system is one that is unequal, it’s in your best interests to perpetuate the inequality and ensure that nobody ever really comes close to the same level of wealth. In this way, there is no legitimate justification for the inequalities that pervade the world’s economy, and his views are disconnected from reality in a few fundamental ways– ways that most other people are connected– although he is probably “tuned in” on at least one level that we are not.

  2. perspectivethink says:

    We have to remember that we live in a world which survives only by means of using debt-based currency through fractional reserve banking and lending. Along with that, justification for keeping this system of “earning for a living” through creating problems that can be monetized from by means of employment, purchase, and legality is another factor in the inequality that prevails in the world. Because of this, people have to adjust their mentalities and actions to fit these models of existence and not everyone is either able to do so or interested in doing it. Money is made by restricting access to goods and service. This is what most people call “commerce”. It is the lifeblood of any modern economic system and as long as these ideals are in place, the inequality that most people complain about will continue to exist.

    In order for things to change, a person must think to take the power away from that which is causing distress. Understanding the monetary system, along with the concepts of servitude, worth and merit is a way to eliminate the problem. Also, it is important to understand how the problem keeps being perpetuated in order to know how to alter it so that it stops altogether. Stopping the flow of money and doing things like growing food at home, forming neighborhood co-ops instead of going to Wal-Mart, minimizing use and dependency of most metered utilities and cutting down on home and traveling costs (taking the bus, only having one car, minimizing activities that require use of petroleum-based products, etc.), buying locally instead of going to Sears, and many other things are what is available for people to do and take the power away from the likes of Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary and keep it for themselves. Of course, people can continue to keep thinking and doing as they have been and keep Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary laughing at everyone who is poor.

    A while back, I wrote a piece called To “Earn a Living” where I go into more of the philosophical aspects of the issue of “working to live”.

  3. Barneysday says:

    You might be very interested in this piece from the NY Times last week, Very insightful to this same issue, and helps explains the mania of the like of the Koch brothers, Sam Adelson and Kevin O’Leary.

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