Robert Reich (The Truth Behind “Selfmade” Billionaires Why Do…)

The truth behind self-made billionaires

Why do we glorify “self-made” billionaires?

Well, being “homemade” is a seductive idea — it suggests that anyone can get to the top if they’re willing to work hard enough. That’s what the American Dream is about.

If Kylie Jenner can be a self-made billionaire by the age of 21, so can you and I!

Even as wages stagnate and wealth inequality widens, it’s comforting to think we’re all just a cosmetics company and a little short of wealth.

Unfortunately, it’s just a nice idea. Self-made billionaires are a myth. Just like unicorns.

The origins of self-made billionaires are often portrayed as a rags-to-riches rise to the top, fueled by nothing but personal determination and the courage to take risks — like dropping out of college or starting a business out of a garage.

But in reality, the origins of many billionaires are not so humble. It’s more riches-to-more-riches stories rooted in upper-middle-class upbringing.

How much risk did Bill Gates take when his mother used her business connections to help Microsoft find deal-making software for IBM?

Elon Musk came from a family that owned an emerald mine during apartheid South Africa.

Jeff Bezos’ garage start was funded by a quarter-million dollar investment by his parents.

If your safety net for joining the billionaire class is to remain upper class, then don’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

It also doesn’t fail to pay your fair share of taxes along the way.

Along with Musk and Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Carl Icahn got away with paying ZERO federal income taxes for a number of years. That’s a big help thanks to legal loopholes and American taxpayers footing the bill while our taxpayers’ dollars subsidize the businesses owned by these so-called “independent” entrepreneurs.

Did you get a thank you card from any of them? I certainly don’t.

Other common ways billionaires build their coffers on the backs of others include paying garbage wages and subjecting workers to abusive working conditions.

But portraying themselves as rugged individuals who emerged from poverty or “made it on my own” remains a powerful propaganda tool for the ultra-rich. One that discourages workers from rising up collectively to demand fairer wages — and one that ultimately distracts from the role billionaires play in promoting poverty in the first place.

Billionaires say their success proves they can spend money smarter and more efficiently than the government. Well, they have no problem with government spending when it comes to corporate subsidies.

When they plead for more tax breaks, they’re demanding every “dollar the government takes.” [them] is a dollar less “for their ‘crucial’ role in expanding prosperity for all Americans through job creation and philanthropy. Well, that’s rubbish.

50 years of tax cuts for the rich haven’t leaked out. In 2018, as a result of Trump’s tax cuts, the 400 richest American families paid a lower tax rate than the middle class. And the fortunes of US billionaires grew by $2 trillion in the first two years of a pandemic that was economically catastrophic for almost everyone else. They want their cake, everyone else’s cake, and eat it too.

Behind every ten-figure net worth lies systemic inequality. inherited wealth. exploitation of labour. tax loopholes. And government subsidies.

To claim that these fortunes are “homemade” is to perpetuate a myth that attributes the wealth gap to the choices of everyday Americans.

Billionaires are not made by rugged individuals. They are caused by political failure. And a system that rewards wealth over work.

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