Cough up more dough!

Why billionaire philanthropists need to give more.


Art by Eliana Megargee

by Eliana Megargee, Cub Co-Editor

It’s no secret that our world is run by the rich and powerful. With continually inflating prices, healthcare you need to pay for, and the constant demands of capitalism, it is obvious that you need a lot of money to thrive in this society. 

Now, I’m not going to say that it’s bad to have money. As I said, we all need money to make it in this world. People having a lot of money isn’t inherently a bad thing. However, when “a lot” gets into the range of billions, this is where the problem begins. And even if billionaires claim to be doing good things with their money, as philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett do, it isn’t good enough. 

Many people like to praise the wealthy- well, let’s be honest, they’re mostly white men- for their donations to charity. And on the surface, it does seem great. 

Bill Gates has given about 50 billion dollars to charity in the past 25 years. Jeff Bezos gave 10 billion dollars last year to help fight climate change. But they are still doing more harm than good. Billionaires don’t give enough of their money, and by having as much money as they do, they are keeping wealth from thousands that need it more. 

To understand the problem, people need to know just how much money a billion dollars is, especially in comparison to a million dollars. Most people don’t realize the huge difference between a millionaire and a billionaire. Something that’s always helped me understand the difference is to look at the numbers in a different way- time. For example, one million seconds is about 12 days. One billion seconds is almost 32 years. 

Point is, a billion of anything is a lot. 

In fact, when it comes to money, it’s more than one person should ever have. Jeff Bezos has so much money that if he gave away 11 million dollars every day, it would take him about 50 years to get rid of his money.

Meanwhile, around 10 percent of the world’s population is forced to live on less than two dollars a day. Think about that for a moment. Millions of people, living on less than two dollars, while one man has the freedom to spend 11 million a day. 

Another issue with the existence of billionaires is how only people with immense amounts of privilege have the resources to become billionaires. Therefore, they are often white men. As of 2019, 88.1 percent of billionaires are male. In 2020, only 0.67 percent of billionaires worldwide were Black. 

But people may still be asking: isn’t it good that they’re giving away some of their money? The key issue with this is the word “some.” Yes, Bill Gates has given charities 50 billion dollars over the past few decades. And he still has 126.2 billion dollars left to his name. 

The three richest men in the world (Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bernard Arnault) could join forces to end world hunger- a feat that would take 330 billion dollars to accomplish in the next decade- and they’d all still easily be multi-billionaires.

Billionaires could, and should, effortlessly solve issues such as low minimum wage, homelessness in the United States, and medical debt. These are issues that plague us all and lead to the struggles of countless members of our society. If billionaires really cared about the lower classes, they would be working on solving issues like these. And it’s not like they’d be poor after doing that. On the contrary, they’d still be among the richest people in the world. 

The fact that billionaires would still be crazy rich even after doing these things is why I believe so strongly that it’s something they need to be doing. Because yes, everyone with any money to spare should donate to charity every now and then as a way to help the greater good, practice good morals, and demonstrate selflessness. 

But for most people, they don’t have loads of money sitting around that they can give to a good cause. And that’s okay! Having enough money to survive and live a good life should always be the priority. 

But for billionaires there is no excuse to not be doing more to solve global issues. They’re definitely not using the money for anything better. And before you ask- no, launching a car into space is not a good use of the money. If billionaires began to solve global issues, each and every citizen would benefit from it. 

Billionaires must begin to do better. They must give away enough of their money to make a real change in the world. And until they do, we should stop praising those that do the bare minimum.