When Wealth becomes Power
Let’s talk about how wealth becomes power.
Wealth inequality is one of the most pressing issues in the modern world. They say that with more responsibility comes more power, and that is more than true about wealth in most capitalist-driven societies.
Before proceeding any further, it is important to start from the basics and understand what responsibility is in the first place.
Tremendous wealth is generated by accumulating valuable assets, and these assets are either in the form of businesses or investments. Countless responsibilities come with managing businesses and investments, but social responsibility has become increasingly important. Especially for the big players in the game. Social responsibility in business means that in addition to generating profits (by providing value to the customers) and maximizing shareholder value, one must act in a manner that benefits society.
Corporations owned by the ultra-rich, hold immense responsibility for the well-being of their consumers. If producers decline in number, several jobs would be lost and consumers too will suffer. This is exactly the amount of responsibility the ultra-rich have.
Corruption, money laundering and sometimes even lobbyists make the headlines now and then, but there are many honest and responsible people who hold vast sums of money. This proves the fact that money does not corrupt everyone, it merely reveals their character and is a byproduct of their work.
How Wealth translates to Power:
Every new era comes with change. Earlier, those who had the factories made the most money, then, those who had the land were on the top. Although the factory owners and real estate businessmen are doing well for themselves, in this era, the ones who have the best products are the winners of this game.
Tech entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have revolutionized the tech industry and have indeed hooked the minds of countless individuals to their products. But how do these people have power and influence over society, and how much power do they have exactly?
The Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes made a personal, riveting case for breaking up Facebook in a new essay published in The New York Times. In the argument, Chris pointed out that Zuckerberg is a “good, kind person”, but one whose “power is unprecedented and un-American”. Mark Zuckerberg controls Facebook, Instagram and even WhatsApp, which are some of the most widely used communication apps in the world.
Countless consumers rely on his products for connecting with their families, friends and even for business meetings and conference calls. Most people may not be aware of the personal information and media habits collected by the company on a daily basis.
If Zuckerberg wished, he could sell this information to data brokers, who are part of a 200-billion-dollar industry involved in selling personal information to other companies. This includes everything from buying habits, location and screen time to political affiliations. All of this information can be used against the ones from who it is collected.
Now have a look at real estate owners, who rent their properties in order to make some sweet passive income for themselves. This results in the middle class not having enough homes left to buy.
This may not be true in some countries, but it can turn into a major problem in the near future. In fact, real estate prices are already above the roof in countries like Germany. Only 10% of the German population owns real estate, and many struggles to even pay for rent. Hundreds have to emigrate to other countries just so that they can own their own homes. The largest real estate owner has the most power in terms of housing. If he/she wishes to empty the properties, many individuals would have to emigrate, and some may even end up homeless.
Many other examples can be spoken or written about. Such as farmlands and how the largest of farmland owners can disrupt the food supply due to a terrible mistake, or even the crashing of huge monopolies and banks.
Wealth translates responsibility, which in turn translates to power; If tremendous responsibility is carried out poorly, it can have a negative impact on the global economy.