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Opinion: What Elon Musk as ‘Person of the Year’ says about us | The Blog 101

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Time’s announcement of Musk as its decide for the title started by describing him as “the richest man in the world.” On this sense, the choice is becoming, since People so worship wealth. But it surely’s unlucky that Time has chosen to acknowledge somebody who’s so cavalier along with his cash, and whose charitable giving would not start to match the size of his assets. As The New York Times defined, “Earlier than this 12 months, one estimate put his giving at $100 million, quite a bit by virtually any commonplace, aside from multibillionaires like Mr. Musk.”
It is significantly unlucky that Musk — like different main billionaires, together with Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson — is spending a lot effort and cash trying to get people to outer space whereas there’s a lot want proper right here on Earth. As an illustration, tens of millions of Afghanis are dealing with hunger proper now. This winter, the lives of greater than half the individuals in Afghanistan — an estimated 22.8 million people — shall be endangered by lack of meals.
What’s even worse, Musk has discouraged different individuals with assets from serving to their fellow human beings in want. He has not too long ago engaged in what one researcher describes as “troll philanthropy” by questioning the worth of necessary contributions he and others may make to the well-being of humankind. For instance, Musk not too long ago solid aspersions on the World Meals Programme by difficult it to clarify how it might finish starvation, and even provided to promote his inventory to pay for it. The UN responded with a detailed plan, however Musk has been silent. Musk additionally ran a poll asking individuals whether or not he ought to pay taxes. Let’s be clear, Mr. Musk: everybody ought to pay their share of taxes to contribute to public spending on issues like training, security and a wholesome setting, from which all of us profit.
The billionaires' space race is only just beginning
Musk has additionally demonstrated outstanding irresponsibility in his response to the pandemic. As I’ve written before, his name for America to reopen throughout a time when social distancing was crucial to save lots of lives was nothing in need of egocentric. He additionally promoted vaccine skepticism early on by questioning their safety and saying he wouldn’t get one. Any accountable public determine would have executed simply the alternative and used his profile to encourage as many individuals as potential to get inoculated. Whereas he later said he was vaccinated and supported vaccines, his preliminary feedback got here at a vital second when attitudes about vaccine hesitancy and refusal have been nonetheless being fashioned. Musk ought to have had a greater understanding of his influence.
It is also abundantly clear that Musk shouldn’t be a person in want of additional consideration. The entrepreneur apparently thinks he is so attention-grabbing that, as Time pointed out, he is been identified to Tweet to alert individuals when he will the toilet. Whereas it is easy to see why he is grow to be so self-absorbed — and the prospects of a future with self-driving automobiles and vacationer flights to outer area are actually fascinating — it is unclear why we as a tradition must be fixating on a person whose particular person decisions will not be worthy of recognition. Think about the very totally different message that may have been despatched if Time had as an alternative targeted on the scientists and healthcare employees who’ve selflessly thrown themselves on the service of others throughout a devastating 12 months for humanity.

We will all be curious about futuristic advances with out venerating boy-men like Musk whose private habits is something however exemplary. Whereas his enterprise ventures are actually worthy of dialogue, there isn’t any must create a persona cult round a person whose private decisions aren’t a worthy mannequin for others to comply with.

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