this man has been educating himself with cartoons all week. this is what he means when he says he works 19 hours a day pic.twitter.com/BUXbAPPTKG
— Matt Lech (@MattLech) April 28, 2022
While most billionaires – at least the ones publicly visible – try to establish some form of a “rags to riches” narrative about themselves, I think the most common way the wealthy justify their wealth is by claiming a superior work ethic. In general, people have a low opinion of those who were born into wealth. They’re seen – rightly – as being out of touch with reality. Claiming that you work unrealistically hard is a way of claiming legitimacy – your obscene wealth is just because you work that much harder, and you’re that much smarter.
This is why we get fawning articles about the habits of the rich and famous, and about how everyone in the ruling class is a genius, even if they seem to be utterly clueless. It’s assumed that we live in a meritocracy, and that must mean that the wealthier and more powerful a person is, the more competent they are – otherwise, how did they get all that wealth and power?
It’s bullshit. Being obscenely rich means you get to define what counts as “work”, and nobody’s going to challenge it. I’d say we should be grateful to people like Musk and Trump for demonstrating that the “meritocracy” is a myth, but a disturbing number of people seem to think their bullshit is caviar.