The grotesque inequality embodied by Musk, Bezos and Zuckerberg is a threat to democracy

Jeff Sparrow

The higher the monkey climbs, the more he exposes his backside. So too with the super rich.

Oxfam tells us that a mere 10 people now possess more wealth than the bottom 40% of humanity – and that the richest 20 tycoons collectively own more than the entire GDP of sub-Saharan Africa. You’d think that such obscene inequality would encourage the wealthy to adopt a certain modesty – even if only for self-preservation. Yet today’s extremely online billionaires love nothing more than raising their metaphorical posteriors for the admiration of the crowd.

Take Elon Musk. Between April 2020 and April 2021, Musk reportedly made nearly US$140bn. In the United States at the time, the average annual wage was about US$75,000. In other words, Musk earned a mind-boggling 1.86m times more than the average American: some $383m each and every day. What morality could possibly justify such a disparity?

Did Musk work 1.86 million times harder than everyone else? Was he, perhaps, 1.86 million times smarter? The last few weeks have, rather definitively, settled such questions. Having acquired a social network seemingly on a whim, Musk set about running Twitter via Twitter, a process that provided a tweet-by-tweet glimpse of his very David Brent management energy….