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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 14-May-17


Sunday 14-May-17

Bashful billionaires, billionaires that bash, and those that become puppeteers

There are a few people in the world who have money. Lots of it. Some were lucky enough to inherit it. Some have achieved it through owning raw materials, most notably oil. Some make it through financial dealings. And of course there are the technology billionaires who come up with the next big thing and float their small companies into a wildly enthusiastic stock market. No matter the route, these people find they have remarkable power. They get invited to exclusive clubs where they talk with other billionaires. Politicians court them, hoping for sizeable donations. And so they find they have massive influence.

Some of these billionaires like to use their money for good, almost bashfully giving back some of what they have acquired. Most notably of late, Bill Gates has poured money into many good causes. This is a continuation of a history of philanthrophy, where people like Carnegie and Rockefeller first prove they are clever by earning lots of money, then prove they are good by giving it away. Who knows, they may even be 'buying a stairway to heaven' as Led Zeppelin once sang.

But not everyone is that nice. Some just want more and more, and will bash whoever gets in their way. Money give power and the powerful do not have to be nice. Normal people are civil because if they are not, they can get into social trouble as even their friends criticize them for being unkind. But when you are the big boss or can hire clever lawyers to get you out of trouble, you can get away with a lot more incivility.

Billionaires may also get into politics. Sometimes they want to be visible, maybe even going for the top job. Politics is, in many ways, the ultimate expression of power as you gain influence over millions of lives. Yet many billionaires do not want a public face. Indeed, they shy away from cameras, preferring to deal in back rooms and face to face. These are the people behind the thrones, who whisper in the ears of public politicians and fund organizations that subtly support their causes. Rather than fame, such people are often driven by either further wealth and power, or by ideology. The billionaire ideologues are perhaps the most dangerous in the way they may drive whole nations into courses of action that could ultimately do massive damage to people, the country and even the whole world. 

Just search for 'billionaire politics' on the web and you will find plenty of detail, and not just on conspiracy sites. Credible sources such as The Guardian and the Washington Post have uncovered alarming stories about how billionaires are becoming global puppeteers. Search for 'billionaire climate change denial' for a specific example. You don't have to be rich to be pull strings, but it most certainly helps.

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