Is ‘billionaire’ now seen as pejorative?

I of course think it is and so, I would guess, would many of this blog’s readers but it seems that Howard Schultz is sensitive to it too and prefers the term ‘people of means’ and ‘people of wealth’. Here he is responding to a question from Anand Giridharadas, author of the book Winners Take All about whether billionaires have too much power over the political process.

Well, too bad, Howard. ‘Billionaire’ is probably the least pejorative label that is going to be used on you. Trust me, there are a whole lot worse that can and will be used as you continue your vanity project.

He also says that what he is trying to do is “walk in the shoes of the American people”. Does everyone wear Gucci and Prada shoes now?


  1. jrkrideau says

    Well everybody Shultz knows wears Gucci or Prada.

    Actually one does not even have to be a billionaire to be this obtuse.

    Here is a great example from an interview with Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

    “She repeated several times that she wants to make Ontario more affordable. But the example she gave likely won’t resonate with residents who are actually struggling financially. Mulroney said people in Ontario are having to choose between buying hockey equipment or going out for dinner with their families.”

    I don’t know where she dines but good hockey equipment is expensive Depending on the level of hockey one is playing good skates might cost anything from CDN$400 to close to CDN$1,000 or more.

  2. Michael Sternberg says

    Watching the clip, it’s clear that he said it in not quite as bad a way as the tweet has you believe, charitably interpreted even saying you need not be a billionaire to curry political favors.

    Schultz offers platitudes about money having far too much influence in politics, but one suspects he does so merely as a distraction from the calls for steeper progressive taxation that would affect him and his peers “of means”.

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    I prefer “vampire squid” myself, while recognizing that this is rather unfair to the cephalopod, which is much better behaved.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @4: How would having far, far more than you could possibly need make you happy? I suppose giving most of it away could bring some pleasure, but then it would be a transitory appellation.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    Did I dream it, or is there just the one, ever, ex-billionaire: JK Rowling? As in, she made her billion, and literally gave enough of it away fast enough that she no longer qualifies? There’s an example to follow, billionaires: be ashamed of how much you have, and get rid of it.

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