Billionaires won’t save us, but that isn’t stopping Tom Steyer from trying to convince you otherwise!
The 2020 presidential candidate and man with too much money, who announced his candidacy last week, is wading into a race that’s already overcrowded with white guys everyone wishes would stay home. Interestingly, he seems to want to distinguish himself because of his enormous wealth and shield himself from criticism over it. (As my colleague Ashley Reese mentioned at the time he announced his bid, maybe he should just give his money away instead!)
Asked by the Guardian about his billions, Steyer asked the very dumb rhetorical question: Would voters hold being very rich against Beyoncé?
“Should we put a limit on what Beyoncé makes? I don’t see why,” Steyer told the Guardian by phone. “I don’t think in the United States of America, we should put a ceiling on how far people can go.”
Steyer is invoking Beyoncé’s image to excuse his own inordinate wealth. If a strong and powerful black woman is able to be the biggest superstar in the world and amass a sizable fortune while doing so, the thinking goes, shouldn’t he be entitled to enjoy his money without criticism? But of course, Beyoncé isn’t running for president. (And for what it’s worth, yes, celebrities should definitely pay higher taxes on their income. I think so, and Cardi B does too.)
Steyer added that the United States should “[a]bsolutely” have a “different” tax system, which is convenient for him to say, now that he’s running for president. (Does he regret not “figur[ing] it out sooner? Of course I do.”) Will be interesting to see him flesh that out in real time.
After that Beyoncé analogy, Steyer also name-dropped Karl Marx, who failed to predict... SoundCloud:
Steyer transitioned to a critique of communism and the argument that “at the heart of every great fortune is a crime”: “What Karl Marx failed to take into consideration was software – that if you are Michael Jackson or Rihanna or Beyoncé or anyone producing an idea, with software you aren’t just the best singer in your village … you have an ability to reproduce that song infinitely at very low cost around the world.”
Advances in technology have always helped wealthy people amass more wealth, but that doesn’t mean they should be exempt from being taxed on that wealth at a fair rate. And none of this has anything to do with his presidential campaign, which will absolutely flounder in a matter of months. Enjoy this while it lasts, Steyer.