Updated: Apr 29
We consistently hear the argument, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” This sentiment is consistent in left and right circles alike. We see individuals being upset with Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk. The claims suggest that these and other wealthy individuals are making money by exploiting the poor, but is this true?
In my argument, I would like to put forward the idea that this is completely false, and these tycoons of industry have only enhanced our lives and made us and themselves wealthier in the process. Let me ask our readers one simple question: “Would you rather be Mansa Musa or would you rather be you?”
Mansa Musa (King of Mali from 1312-1337 A.D.) is considered to have been the wealthiest person in history. According to Forbes, "At his death, Musa was worth around $400 billion, which makes Bill Gates' $81.8 billion look paltry." Even when compared to other wealthy Africans, such as Elon Musk, Mansa Musa's wealth is astounding. If we compare him to Elon Musk, for example, we find that Musa still comes out on top, since Elon's net worth is estimated to be $180 billion in 2023. Yet, the question remains: would you rather be you or Mansa Musa?
While Mansa Musa could have anything his heart desired, within the boundaries of his kingdom and his times, he still lacked a certain type of wealth. His kingdom counted with salt and gold mines, elephant ivory, slaves, and more. Nonetheless, even with all his wealth and power, he was not as wealthy as the average person in today’s society.
Think about your iPhone… this simple device which fits in your pocket has more computing power than the “super computer” which helped land the first man on the moon. According to Real Clear Science, “the latest phones typically have 4GB of RAM. That is 34,359,738,368 bits. This is more than one million (1,048,576 to be exact) times more memory than the Apollo computer had in RAM. The iPhone also has up to 512GB of ROM memory. That is 4,398,046,511,104 bits, which is more than seven million times more than that of the guidance computer.” Think of what you can do with your phone - you can order a new book or article of clothing from Chicago and receive it at your doorstep in Arizona the next day thanks to Amazon. You can look up recipes, check the stock market, check your bank account, call your friends and family around the world, video chat, and read the Lake Street Review. Think of your car - there is no need to take a camel or horse; your car out-powers both. A trip from New York to California takes less than seven hours thanks to airplanes. A trip like this would take our ancestors months to accomplish, and many would perish on the way.
Lastly, think about how your life compares to that of Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. When they travel, they also take a plane. Sure, you have to share your plane ride with other people, but you still take part in the miracle of human flight. You drive a car and have a house just like Mark Zuckerberg. Sure, his house and car are a little better than yours, but so what? At the end of the day, you are vastly wealthier than your ancestors. The real and gross inequality isn’t between you and Warren Buffett, but between you and your great-great-grandfather. So, would you rather be you or Mansa Musa?