Orca near ship(l), vivek ramaswamy(c), titan explorer(r)

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The best ‘Eat the Rich’ moments of 2023

The rich keep getting richer. And we keep hating them.

 

Claire Goforth

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Posted on Dec 14, 2023   Updated on Dec 16, 2023, 12:34 pm CST

Analysis

This year everyone collectively decided that we officially hate the rich.

Americans are raised on the fiction that this is an egalitarian society. We’re taught that economic success is the result of intelligence, talent, and hard work. In reality, self-made billionaires are almost nonexistent and the rich aren’t smarter, better, or more industrious than anyone else. They’re simply born on third base.

A decade ago, people were more likely to aspire to become wealthy. Today we just want to destroy the moneyed class, and for good reason. The mega-rich are the absolute worst. They gallivant around the world on private jets and do dastardly deeds on superyachts with the carbon footprint of a small island nation while alternately sneering at and cosplaying as regular folks. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are unhoused, hungry, or one crisis from the streets.

Income inequality is nothing new, but it’s gotten much worse over the years. Today fewer than 750 people control a collective $5 trillion in wealth—that’s $2 trillion more than half the country according to Inequality.org. And they actually got wealthier during the pandemic.

So it should come as no surprise that cries of “eat the rich” and “abolish billionaires” are ringing from every corner of the internet. Given how oblivious the wealthy are, it probably is.

These are the best “eat the rich” moments of 2023.

Orcas attack

There’s no corner of the world that hasn’t been soiled by humans’ unquenchable desire to consume, accrue, and kill. We truly are the destroyer of worlds.

Well, the orcas are over it.

Over the last few years, orcas off the coast of Spain have taken to attacking boats, sinking several. Orcas are exceptionally intelligent; they’re also exceptionally strong and, apparently, likely to hold a grudge. Scientists theorize that these orcas are out for revenge because one of them was hit by a boat. This orca, it is believed, subsequently taught their pod to attack the enemy.

Ordinarily people clamor for the hide of any wild creature that dares harm a single hair on a human’s head. Not this time. These orcas have been lauded as heroes. People all over the world took to the web to rejoice in their valiant efforts to reclaim the seas. Many specifically wish the orcas would take on one of the most despicable inhabitants of the planet: billionaires in superyachts. Looking at you, Jeff Bezos.

Clarence Thomas outed as a gold digger

Being a public servant is supposed to be a sacrifice—and often it is. Many people who work in government could earn significantly higher salaries in the private market.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas found another way to enjoy the finer things: Simply accept them as gifts from your billionaire buddies.

Luxury travel, private plane rides, a free house for your mom; it’s all attainable if someone else is paying. In a series of stories known in the industry as Pulitzer Prize bait, ProPublica revealed that Thomas has been gallivanting around the world on billionaire Harlan Crow’s dime. And Crow’s not the only one subsidizing his lifestyle. Turns out Justice Thomas has an equal opportunity approach to accepting gifts from billionaires.

Thomas’ conservative besties on the bench have largely insisted that he did nothing wrong. Riiiggghhht, say all the actual public servants filing paperwork to disclose that a colleague bought them lunch at Texas Roadhouse.

Trump trials and tribulations

People have been wishing for former President Donald Trump’s ruin since he was a wannabe mafia boss somehow failing at running casinos. Calls for his downfall got louder throughout his time in office. The Capitol riot only intensified the collective desire for Trump to be held accountable for literally anything.

The people are finally getting their wish. Indictments have been stacking up since he left office. Trump is facing 91 criminal charges in federal and multiple states’ courts. The richest man ever elected president may also become the first ex-president to spend retirement in prison.

He’s also got money troubles. Author Jean Carroll was awarded $5 million in her civil suit against him for sexually assaulting her in a department store. His companies were convicted of tax fraud. New York is currently seeking $250 million in penalties for Trump inflating his net worth to secure better financial terms on loans, a case in which he, his failsons, and trophy daughter have had to testify.

As they say in the South, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer feller.

Titan submersible implosion

For several days in June, our collective attention was fixated on the spot 14,000 feet under the sea where a submersible had disappeared en route to the Titanic shipwreck. The fate of the submersible was as tragic as it was predictable. Stockton Rush, the megalomaniac millionaire founder of OceanGate, had basically built a tin can piloted by a PlayStation controller to go miles into the ocean’s depths.

His goal? Why, to make money of course.

To achieve that goal, Rush didn’t bother with nuisances like engineering standards or getting the Titan submersible certified for safety. He also ignored warnings from pretty much every expert that the vessel was not up to the task of repeatedly descending 14,000 feet to see the Titanic.

Rush’s ego proved his, and his wealthy companions’, downfall. After searching for several days, rescuers found what remained of the Titan. We soon learned what the people aboard the OceanGate ship accompanying Rush’s vanity project probably knew from the jump: the Titan imploded shortly into its descent, killing all aboard, including the misguided rich man who created it.

The internet being the internet, the news and accompanying details of the many, many corners Rush cut at OceanGate inspired a certain sense of schadenfreude. Many months later, people are still making jokes like, “The Cybertruck is the OceanGate sub of land vehicles.”

Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign

Tech bros and presidential candidates are two of the cringiest people on the planet. So it makes sense that tech bro presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy would ascend to levels of cringe heretofore only seen when celebrities sing “Imagine” at us from their mansions during a global pandemic.

Ramaswamy, whose net worth is an estimated $950 million, keeps proving that money can’t buy common sense or good ideas. His ramblings are so incoherent that fellow Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said she gets dumber every time he talks—and she worked for Trump.

Ramaswamy has an endless supply of boneheaded comments.

In November, he said he would fire every government worker whose social security number ends with an odd number. Um, wut? After Ohio codified abortion rights, Ramaswamy suggested making men legally responsible for their offspring when a paternity test proves they’re the father. My dude, that’s how the law already works. He called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, a Nazi during one presidential debate. Ramaswamy has also said George Washington, who prohibited torturing prisoners of war, would want Israel to behead the top 100 Hamas leaders.

Ramaswamy’s floundering campaign is like that pimple popping show: awful but oddly satisfying.

FTX co-founders guilty

FTX cryptocurrency co-founders Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang had one of the rapidest downfalls in history. The pair, of whom Bankman-Fried is undoubtedly better known, founded FTX in 2019. Two years later, it reported over $1 billion in revenue and was the third-largest crypto exchange. International celebrities appeared in FTX commercials. Bankman-Fried made Forbes “30 Under 30” list.

A year later, everything fell apart.

FTX collapsed and is currently in bankruptcy proceedings. Both Wang and Bankman-Fried were charged with multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy for using FTX as a piggy bank for Alameda Research, another company Bankman-Fried founded. Wang took a plea deal to testify against his former partner, who was convicted in November.

FTX’s customers may never get their money back, but at least they got justice.

Big Tech antitrust suits

Even if you like their products, and many people do, it’s hard to deny the dominance of Amazon, Apple, and Google. Most people would probably agree that Apple is the least evil of the three, which isn’t exactly a high bar. Apparently retail, shipping, web services, and entertainment aren’t enough because Amazon’s even getting into the medical industry now. As for Google, well, I’d criticize its stranglehold on internet search and advertising, but it could literally nuke the Daily Dot’s web traffic for the foreseeable future.

Now the feds are stepping in. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Justice Department are suing Amazon and Google, respectively, alleging that they have illegal monopolies. A federal court is forcing Apple to defend an antitrust case brought by payment card issuers who accuse it of thwarting competition via Apple Pay.

Naturally, all deny violating antitrust law.

The Amazon and Apple cases are still pending. Three long years after it was first filed, the Google trial, which the New York Times reports “could reshape tech power,” wrapped in November.

Even if you hate the feds, and many people do, it’s hard not to root against our Tech Overlords, whose combined revenue in 2022 alone was over $1 trillion.

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*First Published: Dec 14, 2023, 11:27 am CST