Rashid: Maybe Billionaires Just Need to Take Their Own Advice
By Qasim Rashid
January 31, 2021

As Dr. King said, America has socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.

Hedge fund managers took it on the nose last week when they tried to manipulate the stock prices of numerous companies in their favor by short selling, but the billionaires were outmaneuvered by redditors making memes. As a result, by some estimates those short selling lost up to $70 billion for their stunt. In response, some have called for restrictions on redditors.

Why? To prevent them from manipulating the stock market in this manner again. Billionaire CEO of Social Capital Chamath Palihapitiya came to the defense of redditors, pointing out, “What you’re seeing is essentially a pushback against the establishment in a really important way.”

Maybe Palihapitiya has a point, but what he clearly misses are the struggles of billionaires in this difficult time. Accordingly, I’ve compiled a list of proven financial success measures that billionaires can adopt to get through this financial hardship. These are tried and true tactics that the wealthy have constantly cited for us blue collar folks, so hopefully this reminder will get billionaires back on the saddle.

First, if you’ve lost billions and need help making ends meet, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. How? Get a second job. And at the stellar rate of $7.25/hour, you’d only need to work for 138,000,000 hours to make your first billion. That may sound like a lot of hours, but let’s do the math. If you work 24/7 for the next 16,000 years straight, you’ll make it happen. After all, you’ve always told us that hard work alone makes billionaires, so you better get going.

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Or Hey, Maybe Go Back to School?

If you insist a sub living wage won’t work, or you don’t have 16,000 years to spare—though that’s what your policies have forced upon more than 60 million Americans—then perhaps going back to school and getting another degree is your thing. Now, you should know a few things. The average cost of college including tuition and room and board is about $41,000. You can save some money if you go in-state, where it’s only $25,000.

Now, that probably sounds like a lot of money considering you only make $7.25 an hour right now. Don’t worry, you can take out student loans. And while you’re probably used to 0% interest rates from the Fed and the ability to discharge debts through bankruptcy if a deal doesn’t work out, neither of those options are available here. The Federal government and private lenders will happily loan you all the money you need at an 8% interest rate, no option to discharge through bankruptcy if the market collapses again and you can’t get a job, and a garnishment of your meager wages if you can’t pay.

This probably sounds depressing, but there are ways to save money and make this happen. For one, stop buying avocado toast. It’s the single most expensive thing ever created, apparently. Likewise, make coffee at home. Did you know that by skipping Starbucks you can save enough to buy a private jet? Not really. Also, you don’t need that comfy Manhattan penthouse. What you need is a studio apartment that you split with two roommates. They sleep on bunkbeds and you have the couch all to yourself. And if that doesn’t work, you can always move in with your parents. What a great way to spend more time with family.

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‘Find Something New’

Look, if none of the above is appealing to you, you can always learn to code, or as the previous administration taught, “Find something new.” The important thing is to Be Best and never play the victim. If you haven’t figured out how to become a billionaire again while homeless, earning $7.25 an hour, and not having enough to eat, well, it just means you aren’t working hard enough. 

But here’s the truth. America’s billionaires don’t need these tips often imposed upon working class and lower income Americans. As Dr. King truthfully declared, “America has socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.” It’s no wonder that in the last 10 months of the pandemic, America’s 800 billionaires have increased their wealth by a staggering $1.1 Trillion, while 50 million Americans are food insecure. Even as the Robinhood App received resounding condemnation with 100,000 new 1-star ratings as a reflection of its ruined trust, Google happily eliminated all of those ratings in an attempt to restore its credit. Years ago when I worked for a bank I saw people beg to remove past due bills caused by groceries, diapers, and medication, so they could get a car or house loan. Credit bureaus refused because “rules are rules.” Yet in a flash billionaires get bailed out—again.

As I’ve written before, we cannot move forward as a nation unless we have economic justice. Billionaires have long manipulated markets for their personal gain, and this week working class Americans figured out a way to out smart them. Our elected leaders should respond with a just economic model that rewards integrity, honesty, and hard work—not with a continued ability of billionaires to game the system and undermine the financial security of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Qasim Rashid is an attorney, author, and former candidate for US Congress. Follow him on Twitter @QasimRashid.

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