About democracy, opportunity and privilege

The following is an almost verbatim copy of a paragraph from a great book, titled “So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish” by Douglas Adams, one of the finest writers in the English language, one who left us way too soon. The only thing I did was to replace “lizard(s)” by “billionaire(s)” …

“On its world, the people are people. The leaders are billionaires. The people hate the billionaires and the billionaires rule the people.”

“Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

“I did,” said Ford. “It is.”

“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the billionaires?”

“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

“You mean they actually vote for the billionaires?”

“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

“Because if they didn’t vote for a billionaire,” said Ford, “the wrong billionaire might get in.”

I do advice you to go and read anything written by Douglas Adams. Most of it makes quite a lot of sense. But this is my point about this paragraph …

In quite a few elections, the electorate, the people, do not realize the power they have. And the elite class, the billionaires, too often assume that because they are billionaires, they have more privilege … which would be an erroneous assumption.

As a billionaire, i.e. a very, very, very rich person, you have more opportunity. And if you built those billions, you absolutely have the right, because you have earned that opportunity. Use it wisely, just like people like Bill Gates do.

What you do NOT have, is the right to more privilege. If power equals privilege, you cannot claim that you live in a democracy. Because that is actually the definition of a dictatorship. When power and money equals privilege, the context is despotism.

Something to think about in a weekend.