Billionaires like Musk, Bankman-Fried didn’t save the world. You broke it. Let’s take it back

After growing up as the child of two Stanford Law School professors amidst the affluent upper-middle class Silicon Valley and arriving at MIT as a super-smart kid to study physics, Sam Bankman-Fried made the choice in his teens He wanted to save the world in the worst way.

And that’s exactly what he did.

The young and seemingly idealistic Bankman-Fried fatefully attended a college lecture in which he talked about an idea called “effective altruism‘ – that aspiring geniuses like him will not improve mankind through worldly drudgery like organizing the peasants. No, they should use their intelligence and a few math calculations to maximize the amount of money they make in the jack-of-all-trades of modern capitalism, and then donate their millions or maybe billions of dollars to their favorite social causes.

“If you’re trying to donate, you should earn as much as you can and give as much as you can.” said Bankman Friedwhose mission became his calling card There is a podcast episode titled “Sam Bankman-Fried Wants to Save the World”.

Bankman-Fried became the top student of effective altruism because he went on Wall Street and turned out to be very, very good, the “do as much as possible” part of it all. He used a trading ploy on cryptocurrency’s new frontier to get rich and – still in his 20s – start a small empire based on his crypto exchange FTX. But while his net worth peaked at an estimated $16 billion, Bankman-Fried hadn’t gotten very far with the “give what you can” part — maybe a few hundred million dollars his Jenga empire collapsed.

It turns out you can’t be a very effective altruist when your money is disappearing, which began this spring along with a global cryptocurrency crash. It could be months or years before investigators unravel the chaos at FTX, but Bankman-Fried says he was involved risky and unethical practices to shore up an arm of his crypto empire – including tapping into FTX clients’ accounts. These scammed investors may have lost up to $8 billion.

The effective altruism prodigy, now 30, has not only been ineffective in saving planet Earth. He’s proven to have made it worse for his reeling investors and possibly all of us as FTX’s losses ripple through the economy. Surely to be the subject of podcasts and biopics for the rest of our lives, the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried is a remarkable tale indeed, but it’s just the latest twist on what is arguably 21st-century history will become – and the disease of late capitalism.

Messianic billionaires — and we all know who they are… Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Bill Gates, and arguably even MBS over in Saudi Arabia — have emerged as the ultimate winners in a winner-takes-all economy over-the-top Income inequality to levels beyond the notorious golden age. And they’re now spending a lot of those billions on what they’re doing think makes the world a better place – but often clouded by the same sociopathy that made them so rich in the first place.

In fact, the Bankman Fried saga probably isn’t getting the attention it normally would because journalists and various self-proclaimed thought leaders are busy obsessing over another billionaire, Musk, and his $44 billion project – apparently rooted in a personal obsession with the social media site Twitter, which he now owns – that has the blue bird gasp for air within a few days.

The unpredictable, erratic leadership of Musk – the electric car and space mogul and still the richest man in the world, though his Twitter travails have knocked his net worth down to just $189 billion — has brought a site that seemed to be surviving well before his purchase to the brink of collapse. Issues related to a spike in unmoderated mode hate speech or strange changes in examination had Twitter users, his beleaguered staff, and confused advertisers racing around the exits — and that was before Musks reprehensible decision on Saturday night to reverse Donald Trump’s lifetime ban on using Twitter to promote his violent attempted coup on January 6, 2021.

Fittingly, it was Trump – who, in 2016 as a maybe-maybe-not-billionaire for arguably the worst vanity project of them all, dove into his own inflated wealth and elected himself President of the United States – who laid down the mantra of these billionaire boys’ clubs (and they’re almost all boys ), when he declared: “I alone can fix it.”

In fact, for all their differences in style or subject matter, the world’s current richest people seem to share a strikingly similar philosophy. It goes something like this: “Let’s maintain this status quo, where I can run my business in a way that maximizes my own wealth – including historically low taxes and underpaying my workers – and I swear I will use that wealth to to make the world a better place. The catch? I alone decide what this better world is and how to get there.”

Just last week, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – who was the richest man in the world before his messy divorce – laid down the blueprint for this model he promised to give away most of his net worth of $124 billion during his lifetime. In an interview with CNN, Bezos admitted that this is easier said than done, that “there are a number of ways, I think, that you could do ineffective things.”

Here’s what’s so annoying about it: It would actually be easy for Jeff Bezos to be a truly “effective altruist” – using his power as Amazon’s founder to save the lives of the 1.1 million people who work there. not only by providing a living wage, but doing better by spending to make his jobs safe and comfortable for those currently describing hellish conditions. Instead, Amazon is spending untold millions from Bezos while fighting to discourage these workers from organizing.

Imagine: He could make the world a much better place by giving away his wealth before it goes through his wallet instead of afterwards. But that would also mean sacrificing what is really important to a Bezos or a Musk: total control.

” CONTINUE READING: Crushed: The Myth of the Caring Company | Will Bunch Newsletter

The similarities in how these billionaires believe we can achieve a better world are strikingly similar – a society where an individualistic and technocratic form of free-market libertarianism rules everything, and unions and other forms of community organization Go away. That’s why so many billionaires like Microsoft’s Gates are fixated on giving money to failing teachers’ unions charter school project, conveniently forgetting the role that thriving public schools once played in building an American middle class. Hence Starbucks’ Schultz came out of retirement to wage an anti-labourer crusade against organizing baristas because their work shatters the dangerous myth of the modern, socially conscious enterprise.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Of course, the rallying cry at such a moment is typically “Control the rich!” – and yes, we absolutely should be make that. The historically low tax rates on the super-rich – enacted by politicians who campaign on the wealth of these billionaires – should be reversed. And given our ridiculous wealth inequality, we should consider additional steps like a wealth tax. (Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested this to pay for free public universities, which is a far better system than billionaires writing huge checks to their favorite elite school.)

But the fact that our billionaires are devoting so much energy to fighting unions should be a sign: what they fear even more than a higher marginal tax rate is the idea that we – the 99 percent of ordinary people – will work together, collectively, for our own good, rather than begging for the crumbs of their generosity. The best, and perhaps the easiest, way to decrease the grip of a Musk or a Bezos is strengthen organized work.

I would argue more generally that we need to rethink what is a public good and should be supported financially and morally by society, rather than spinning the wheel of multi-billion dollar philanthropy. A social media site like Twitter – which, for all its shortcomings, also gave a voice to social movements As diverse as the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo – should exist as a semi-public utility rather than an entity that a $44 billion man can easily light. Ditto for things like community media and higher education

We should never have left everything from our neighborhood schools to our favorite websites in the clutches of these maniacs posing as altruistic visionaries. And sorry, Sam and Elon, but after all, the path to a better world is not rocket science.

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