Bad days for billionaires

Next time you’re paying $5 for a head of lettuce, consider this – things could be so much worse.

You could be a billionaire. 

I mean, c’mon. These poor schlubs are losing hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars! Makes your problems seem kinda puny, right? Yep, these are not good days for the one percent of the one percent. 

Consider the following events of the last week or so.

You’ve heard of this rapper, Kanye West, or Ye (as in “Ye be an idiot”) as he wants to be called? West, for reasons unknown, decided to send a tweet saying he was going to “defcon 3 on Jews”. Oopsy. Within a week, he was dropped by his agent, lost partnerships with Adidas and The Gap, had his playlist pulled from Apple Music, his products taken off the shelves at something called TJ Maxx and was cut off from Foot Locker. He claims he lost $2 billion in one week! He’ll be OK, however. He’s married to Kim Khardashian, a celebrated celebrity of no discernible talent, who is apparently worth more than a billion. Maybe she’ll give him an allowance.

Then there’s Elon Musk, who is believed to be the richest near-human being in the world, with a net worth of $254 billion. Musk, a modern day Howard Hughes (in that he’s a total weirdo, although there is no evidence yet that he stores his urine in jars, as Hughes was wont to do), purchased the evil social media contagion Twitter for $44 billion. Experts say that Twitter was worth $25 billion at most, which means he overpaid by $19 billion. Oopsy, again. Since taking over, he has done everything possible to destroy Twitter, firing thousands then re-hiring the same people, then demanding 40-hour work weeks and a total, Putin-esque devotion to the company. Twitter is nearing collapse, so some good may come from this. Poor Elon. 

The biggest loser of all is a guy who, until last week, was pretty much unknown outside of his very small circle of suckers. Sam Bankman-Fried was the CEO of a cryptocurrency company called FTX. I won’t try to explain cryptocurrency, because I don’t understand it. Anyway, it turns out the whole thing was a house of cryptocards; it was worth $32 billion one day, bankrupt the next. Poor Sam. Billionaire one day, bum the next. At least he still has his multi-billion dollar home. And he’s only 30, so if he can avoid jail for his total crypto-scam, he’ll come back. You can’t keep a good con down.

It’s not all bad for the billionaire set. Jeff Bezos, the Amazonian who is supposedly worth $117 billion, recently gave country singing legend Dolly Parton $100 million to donate to the charities of her choice. That’s very generous, more than enough money for Dolly to dish out to charities, with a little left over for her yearly plastic surgery touch ups. Around the same time, however, Amazon laid off 10,000 white collar workers. Maybe Dolly would set up a fund for fired Amazon employees. 

And finally, there’s the cyborg Mark Zukerberg (net worth, a piddly $40 billion). It appears that Zukerber’s creation, Facebook (now known, bafflingly, as Meta) has run into some choppy waters. And when the waters get choppy, what choice is there but to jettison some cargo, and by cargo I mean people. Facebook/Meta is laying off 11,000 people, 13 percent of its workforce. Tough decision, to be sure, but a billionaire’s gotta do what a billionaire’s gotta do.

So I guess the lesson here is that billionaire’s are just like you and me.

Only several billion times worse.  

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By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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