Like most of you, I’ve been half-heartedly following the story some some obscenely rich tourists who went to look at the wreck of the Titanic, for funsies, in a submarine that has been described as sub-standard for such extreme conditions. That, plus a seemingly careless attitude from the CEO of the submarine tour company (the sub doesn’t even have an emergency beacon), meant I was actually surprised to see that they’d done this dive successfully at least a couple times since 2021. There have been comments about the appropriateness of using what amounts to a mass grave as a tourist destination, but that’s not something about which I feel particularly strongly.
Growing up, I read about the voyages of the submarine Alvin, and I very much wanted to go on a dive. Having learned more about what that entails, I’ve mostly lost interest in going down there myself, but I’m glad that other people do make such journeys, for the pictures, video, and information that they bring back. This was not that. The huge expense ($250,000 per passenger, apparently) wasn’t for gathering information with a few tourists along to help fund it. That’s an arrangement that makes sense to me, especially in a capitalist society. If bringing a billionaire along on your research trip makes that trip possible, then sure – take their money and bring them along, as long as they don’t get in the way. From what I can tell, this was all about a rich person making money by selling an experience to other rich people, similar to the recent billionaire space flights we heard about.
Very similar, in fact. It turns out that one of the missing billionaire tourists also went into space on Jeff Bezos’ novelty-shaped rocket. Apparently he’s used his wealth to pay for a number of expensive trips to remote locations, and has thus earned the title “explorer”. Regular readers will no doubt be aware of the huge amount of human suffering it costs to make a billionaire, so you may understand my general lack of concern about this. On a human level, I hope the people on that sub survive. Assuming they weren’t killed immediately, suffocating in a sealed metal tube sounds like a horrible way to die. While I do want to take away all of these people’s money, and actually do something useful with it, I would only condemn the actual people to suffer the same sort of life the rest of us lead, but with guaranteed food, housing and healthcare.
Mainly, I’m just tired of rich people. I’m tired of a system that actively rewards people for ruthless, murderous exploitation. I’m tired of the way everyone in the world has to put up with the whims of these people. Astronomers warned that Musk’s Starlink system could devastate Earth-based astronomy, but they couldn’t actually do anything about it. Educators warned that Gates’ plan to “fix” USian education wouldn’t work, but they couldn’t stop him from messing with a generation of students. Most of the world wants to deal with climate change, but the petty greed of a handful of rich assholes has almost completely prevented us from saving ourselves. Trans people are just trying to live their lives, but on Twitter, Musk has decided to actively support his fellow bigots, and given what a petty man-child he is, it’s almost certainly because his trans daughter disowned him, and his ex-wife started dating a trans woman.
And a handful of billionaires go missing on their deep-sea joy ride, and the news breathlessly covers every detail. There has been news about the refugee ship that sank (possibly with the help of the Greek coast guard), but that coverage has been all but drowned out by the submarine story, and that’s just one of many such ships. Those refugees were just a few hundred out of the many millions who’ve been displaced in recent years, by neocolonial policies and wars, and by climate change. The displaced are just a hundred million out of the billions living and dying in poverty, and a huge portion of that suffering could be avoided, if our society even had the capacity to value life over profit.
How much money is being spent, right now, to find those rich tourists and their shitty submarine? US and Canadian coast guards are involved, as are the navies of those nations, and other branches, and an oil and gas corp. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of that effort would have been unnecessary if the submarine had had an emergency locator beacon, of the kind that’s been available for decades.
From what I can tell, the only thing of real value that we’ve gotten from this, is yet another demonstration that the meritocracy is a lie, and that building our society around that lie has had both devastating and ridiculous consequences.
On balance, I hope that the submarine passengers survive. I also hope that, if that happens, the guy running this submarine company has his toys taken away, because it’s very clear that he cannot play with them responsibly, and it is absurd to the point of offensiveness that the governments of two nations are involved in trying to find him and his shitty submarine, because he couldn’t be bothered to spring for a couple extra safety measures. How many times do we have to bail these people out, before we realize that they’re a wholly unnecessary burden? How many ways do we have to bail them out?
As a species, we cannot afford rich people.
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