Throughout American media, we hear the word ‘billionaire’ so much it’s practically become normalized in every talking circle, from friends to colleagues to lectures. This phenomenon has taken place due to the unimaginable size of any billion of something, and I would like to put into perspective the idea of a ‘billion’ to help understand the ridiculousness around the concept of anyone being relatively close to the title of ‘billionaire.’
Let’s start with time, an easy enough place to begin. Being in college, you can hopefully count to 10 by now, but if not, it’s pretty quick, I promise. Now, 1,000 seconds is around 17 minutes, which is a pretty big jump, but nothing crazy. Next, one million seconds is almost 12 days, still something that is relatively relatable to us.
One billion seconds, though?
Nearly 32 years! Looking back a billion seconds ago, Reagan and Gorbachev were still in office, and looking forward, we’d have already hit the half-century mark. We don’t think about this exponential growth when we say a billion, though, because of how ridiculously incomprehensible the size of the number is.
How does this apply to money, though? Well, let’s apply it to something relevant: UT tuition. If we use $13,000 dollars as the average tuition cost (sorry out-of-state-ers), $100,000 could enroll seven students into UT for a year (with change), so not many in the grand scheme of things. A million dollars could send 76 students to UT, still a pretty understandable number.
But a billion dollars could enroll 76,923 students. That’s almost half the population of Knoxville! And yet, this vast amount of life-changing money is hoarded in the hands of those who will never spend it for the good of society.
Despite what American consumerism might want you to believe, no one needs a yacht or a private jet while people are starving on the streets as a result of a lack of public housing and food relief programs. No one needs to fund private spaceship companies while climate change is affecting those least responsible for their own suffering. And no one should rely on slave labor in a developing company to have cheap access to cocoa, coffee, cobalt, diamonds and other frivolous luxuries, in order to hoard ridiculous amounts of money at a faster rate.
Capitalism thrives on deceit, and normalizing the term billionaire is no exception. The next time you hear about a new billion-dollar military budget bill passing or a single person’s worth of $25 billion or even $50 billion, remember the human lives they placed their agendas over. Think about every student not knowing if they can afford the next semester, every starving person not knowing where their next meal is coming from and every suffering person not being able to afford a doctor’s visit.
They have chosen for you to live in fear and pain so they can profit, and together, we can fight back and stop them. Long live the Socialist struggle!
YDSA is an organization for leftist students at the University of Tennessee. If you have any questions, you can reach out to Helen Law at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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