Into the Mind of a Billionaire

Take a person.  Make it you. 

Take you. 

Now, imagine you’ve made enough money to never work again in your life.  A billion dollars, say.  But say you don’t.  That is, don’t never work again in your life.  Because this is real life; because, practically, if you stop working, you won’t have your billion dollars anymore.  Work is what brought you that money in the first place; its existence in your life is tied wholly to the executive position of the company you once created, and all the stock you now own.  One couldn’t exist without the other, and you completely, fundamentally, down to your empty, existentially lonely core of a husk of a person, understand this.    

When you worked, you worked hard, and your personal happiness was only ever secondary to how powerful you were among your peers and the huddling, insignificant masses, and how much self-satisfaction you have always derived from being the (insert superlative adjective) person in the room, from which, peripherally, secondarily, has dribbled down your current, estimated worth.

But, anyway, take you, and you’re a billionaire.  Or someone else.  Call him 21st Century Billionaire.  Or just Billionaire, for short. 

He’s got a lot of money.  More than any one human being should ever possess, in my opinion, but my opinion here doesn’t matter.  He buys things with that money—ludicrous, unfathomable things with the strangest of contexts to the average person—invests a great deal and donates a little bit of it, but does about what you might expect him to with it.  Which is: spend like your spinster Aunt Karen would if she suddenly won the Power Ball.

Average, run-of-the-mill billionaire, this Billionaire.

Let’s branch out into Billionaire’s world and create a hypothetical-yet-totally-plausible scenario, do a little thought experiment with his billionairehood, to get a better understanding of it.    

One day, say, he decides to buy an island, where 3,000 people of an embedded, proud, long-standing culture already reside.  He, of course, starts a company to overlook its development, “to oversee and bring to life Billionaire’s vision of the world’s first sustainable, empowered, self-sufficient island community.”  Because that’s what you do with a sizable investment into a potential asset as dynamic as this one—create a company to deal with it.

One of many companies Billionaire already owns, by the way, to which he devotes only a fraction of the finite amount of time he has in, I don’t know, say a month.

But the other companies, maybe, he finds a little more interesting than this new “project”—several of which he’d already co-established before his purchase of an island of 3,000 people with a strong, proud, well-established culture and have brought him more of his fortune, so he values them accordingly, based on their market value. 

But to the board, the executives and managers of the company he established to run the island—call it Fist #9—this is their life.  This is their ‘billions’.  And while Billionaire may have had some benign and benevolent designs on what the island could become in his own fore-thinking-yet-Billionaire’s-disconnected mind, the board, executives and managers likely don’t get that.  They’re businesspeople, and their job is to not only stay in business, but to exercise well-known market practices to preserve the dominance of that business, and to maximize profits.

Because that’s what Billionaire did in his business to become Billionaire, foremost.  Without someone having done that originally, and others following in pursuit of similar spoils, I wouldn’t be telling this story. 

And they feel they have to protect Billionaire’s company out of a kind of loyalty to him.  Because they feel he has provided for them this opportunity to succeed, and they are grateful. 

Billionaire had a great idea once. But Billionaire didn’t become a billionaire through just a great idea.  It takes insight, resolve, perseverance, sacrifice, luck.  And it takes a management team.  Billionaire heads and makes all the final decisions for that team, but the goals can’t be accomplished without one.

Now, suddenly, with a team, you have many different personalities thrown into the mix.  Billionaire isn’t Billionaire, necessarily, as media outlets and magazines like Forbes might have you believe.  Billionaire is a general leading an army.  With all the equivalent rank and file beneath him.

And, like any army, not only can it do nothing without troops, but it conquers.  Sometimes it protects, but mainly, with that army of troops, it conquers.  The general leads, and the army wars, and subjugates.  Because in case you didn’t realize this, the global marketplace is a battlefield, money a weapon with which one battles and anything non-perishable that can be acquired through purchase or donated to with that money—homes, vehicles, political campaigns, stocks, bonds, other companies, islands—are the nations that need subjugation when it’s deemed necessary by the general to do so. 

One day, say, Billionaire gets a divorce.  Which sucks for Billionaire, and is great for his wife, who (talk about luck!), a few years after marrying him, realized she never had to work a day again in her life, so she became a novelist, blogger and socialite, and now wants to see what it would be like to be a single, late-fortysomething billionaire herself on the socio-pop cultural scene.

And during those divorce proceedings, which drag on for a few years, a liberal president gets elected.  And, while Billionaire had always thought of himself as “liberal,” he realizes that this liberal president poses a threat to his being able to make his billions by supporting anti-trust measures and lawsuits, being against industry monopolization, wants to raise the corporate tax rate from that of his conservative predecessor, wants to strengthen federal agencies that limit the way Billionaire can compete in the marketplace, where Billionaire can dump his industrial waste, limit the amount of state or federal subsidies Billionaire can get for having his company in a particular location and ostensibly supports the right of employees not only to organize, but to receive real wages along with adequate healthcare, safety protections and other positive perks in the workplace.  All of which would cut into Billionaire’s future billions.

So, Billionaire becomes political.  Because no one has any right to stop Billionaire from doing everything he wants and intends to do in his life, and to take food out of Billionaire’s mouth.  You know why?

Because he’s Billionaire, bitch.

And he’s pissed off because he’s getting a divorce.  Even though it was his fault for being dishonest and unfaithful in his marriage.  But fuck it!  He’s Billionaire. 

He should be able to have an odalisque-packed Turkish seraglio if he wants one.

And what, really, does Billionaire want and intend to do with his life? Keep his company doing everything it needs to do to continue to gross billions. Because like anybody who does anything for any given period of time, this is Billionaire’s identity. Being Billionaire.

Now, in the meantime, things aren’t quite progressing as planned for the proud residents with their deeply embedded, culture and traditions—construction on the new hospital has been halted (but not on the brand new, five-star hotel) and waste pickup had become erratic, so they want to talk to Billionaire about it. But, of course, they can’t—they have to talk to the Director of Redirecting Community Outrage or whatever, who’s seven positions removed from Billionaire, and she promises them everything will resume soon and things will be perfect in the end.

But after, like, three similar reassurances in three different town hall meetings, the people are starting to get angry that their basic services are either stagnating or getting worse.

And so they plan to storm the castle.

And, in the meantime-meantime, after all these personal issues have popped up in Billionaire’s life, and he has to devote more time contributing to PAC’s that seek to challenge the liberal president’s candidacy, more time talking to politicians and other big-money political donors, more time dealing with lawyers and spend more money on legal fees, he realizes the island project is a time and cash suck, and decides to chuck it.  Sorry—“Mr. Billionaire has decided to liquidate any and all assets in Fist #9 after quarterly earnings report stated that Q4 20XX earnings were under projected amounts and EPS for fiscal year 20XX were negative despite a noted increase in growth from Q3,” or something like that.

So, after all else, Billionaire sells the island and leaves the island’s 3,000 residents with their strong, embedded, long-standing culture to someone else to purchase and govern as a business investment, and moves on his way to some other “project:” basketball team, newspaper, healthcare provider, natural grocery store chain, you name it.  Because that’s who Billionaire is: a machine of business, a robot, driven by success, with a somehow-programming (and resources up the ass) that allow him to continue to do what robots like him do: make metric shit tons of money.

But, guess what?  That island people of a proud, longstanding culture were near the end of that hospital being finished, in the middle of alterations to their power grid, upgrades to their water reclamation system and waste services and were about to have several low-and-middle income housing units built, and so now what?  They’re left in the dark.  And in the shit.  And out in the cold.  Literally. Literally. And…you guessed it.

Until the next Billionaire comes along.  Or bank.  Or holding company.

And there’s no more castle to storm. Everybody inside just packed up and moved out. Because this isn’t 1792, it’s 2021.

Is it Billionaire’s fault that he treats culture like another commodity, neighborhoods like they were a precinct map and people like they were slices of a pie graph?  Kind of.

Who else can you blame? Because for every scourge on civil society, there’s always a reason why they came to be. It almost always stems from some form of victimization, abuse or predatory behavior. But in Billionaire’s case, what can we say?

Absolutely nothing. He’s just Billionaire, bitch. And his kind runs the world.

I recognize the reaction to this by some non-billionaires might be that of outrage: “Hey, numb nuts, let the guy have his money!  So what?  He’s not bothering anybody!  He worked hard!  He deserves it!  I’d do everything the same way if I were him!  So would you!”

I’m not talking about one snapshot in time, to be king or queen for a day in your own imagination.  I’m talking about the past, present and future.  Well, just the past and present, mainly.  The decades of work, drive and strain that brought about Billionaire’s present, and all the planning, unconscionable decisions and mindset it takes to keep him being Billionaire.

Remember, we’re not talking about Millionaire here, for anyone of their paltry ilk may have come into their money in any number of other ways: heirs and heiresses, lottery winners, white collar criminals, crooked politicians, etc., and lack the clout and capital to get them through the front door of the grandest tier of the world’s pre-eminent class.

We’re talking about Billionaire. Bitch.

I can’t ever get into the mind of Billionaire.  But I can put him in a condition he’s bound to do the only thing he knows, which once made him Billionaire.  And to show not only the collaterally-damaging effect it’s going to have on the rest of the world, but also the effect that much money has had on him. 

And it’s also not to say what happens when a bunch of billionaires (or multi-millionaires, that’s fine too now) get together and start talking business, going back expanses of time back to, say, the founding of America.  What do you think’s going to happen?  As my father, grandfather, Uncle Snitcho, mom, Aunt Candy, guys standing on street corners growing up in my life would have said: ‘They’re gonna think they run the fuckin’ joint!

The Federalist Papers say as much, to that effect.  It was a hell of a jumping off point for Billionaire, today, and all the billionaires and millionaires that preceded him.

If they’re a business robot, they’re going to see the world not how the rest of us see it, but perhaps truly as it is—as a vast, unremitting, soulless ocean of interchange and profit—and every slice or corner of it as an opportunity to invest and gain more than you lose.  Because that’s how they started out—the drive and sense of self-worth via a competitive empowerment, and individual social victory and subsequent material accumulation was there far before they were ever billionaires.

Which leads to what?  A group of them trying to run the joint.

Now, you can call some behind-the-scenes, wealthy power structure in America or the world a dubious assertion.  A conspiracy theory.  It might be.  Rockefellers and Rothschild Illuminati and shit like that.  When you supervillainize it, that’s when it gets silly.  And dubious.

But, imagine this: a bunch of people, with more wealth than most everyone else could possibly imagine, who have fallen into a position of consultation and authority (because of the property, assets and politicians, lawyers and lower-level businessmen of whom they have bought the services through the latter’s greed) and have let that position infuse them with the sense that they are the guardians, protectors, benefactors of whatever societies they populate.  They are Billionaire, and you are part of an island of 3,000 people with a longstanding, proud, embedded cultural history. Because they can, they’re going to throw their money wherever they want for the purposes of either protecting their future investments and assets, or as an investment, itself, to make more. And you, like that both real and allegorical island culture, are going to, in the end, be worse off for it if they happen to change their minds.

In the dark. In the shit. And…you guessed it.

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