Life Advice: Become a Billionaire

In a certain view, billionaires are not merely wealthy, they are nearly god-like in their influence. As the New York Times op-ed Abolish Billionaires reads:

Billionaires should not exist — at least not in their present numbers, with their current globe-swallowing power.

One practical upshot of this view is that we ought to increase the marginal tax rate, break up tech monopolies, sharpen the pitchforks and so forth.

Yet an equally valid interpretation is this: if you truly see billionaires as all-powerful oligarchs who exert enormous control over world affairs, you should try very hard to become one of them.

How should you go about it? Conveniently, the NYT provides helpful–if Straussian–advice:

A few superstar corporations, many in tech, account for the bulk of American corporate profits… Artificial intelligence is creating prosperous new industries that don’t employ very many workers; left unchecked, technology is creating a world where a few billionaires control an unprecedented share of global wealth.

So there you have it. Work in tech, preferably artificial intelligence, and you’re well on your way to control an “unprecedented share of global wealth”. From there, the world is your sandbox.

At this point, a host of objections spring forth. I’ll eagerly greet them head on.

Is becoming a billionaire even worth it? Doesn’t wealth stop contributing to happiness after a fairly low threshold?

In a variety of landmark empirical results, happiness is shown to correlate with log(income). So the scaling is poor, but that’s very different from plateauing completely.

Khaneman and Deaton 2010 find that some measures of wellbeing plateau entirely, but Cantril’s Ladder, a measure of life satisfaction, does not.

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