To all the billionaires I’ve loved before

An open letter to the wealthy

When I was younger, I used to admire billionaires — especially those who started from the ground up. Now, however, I’ve become quite disappointed in them.

The Notre Dame Cathedral, which stood in Paris for more than 800 years, burnt down Monday, April 18. Not even 24 hours later, multiple billionaires jumped to the cause and donated millions of dollars to rebuild the cathedral. After two days a total of $1 billion was raised.

The only thought left on my mind is: where was all of this money when the Flint water crisis first emerged or when the island of Puerto Rico was suffering through the aftermath of the hurricane?

I am in no way trying to diminish the situation that happened in France. Notre Dame is a beautiful building that brings in a lot of tourism that benefits the town and citizens of Paris, and it should be restored. But the fact that all of these billionaires and corporations raised so much money overnight shows the ethical situation that we are in. People are prioritizing a building over the lives of others. A mere fraction of the funds raised could help so many others who are suffering.

People who are living in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, walk five to 10 miles a day to get water when it costs just $10,000 to build a well. Flint needed $55 million to switch out all the pipes that were contaminated with lead, and while Flint has since received the money needed to fix their water system, it is estimated that the project won’t be done until 2020 and its citizens are still left without clean water to drink.

I’ll be frank: the top 1% should not hold 40% of a country’s wealth. No person needs that amount of money to live a happy life.

And I am definitely not the greedy one for thinking that more of these billionaires should be donating more money to causes or be paying their workers more.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, with a net worth of $163 billion, has committed to donating $2 billion to various causes yearly. This amount of money only makes up 1.3% of his total net worth. Now it’s not Bezos’ or any other billionaire’s responsibility to pay for tragedies that happen around the world. But when a corporation has made $232.9 billion in global revenue in the last year and pays zero dollars in taxes, you can’t help but wonder how it is fair for said company to be actually receiving a tax refund, when they are in fact using a lot of the resources that we are taxed on.

People can spend their money as they please, but there is an ethical problem in what is happening before our eyes. The wealthy could quickly solve an abundance of the world’s problems; yet, they haven’t. It’s time that actual, living human beings be given the same amount of attention and support that Notre Dame has received, or else my faith in humanity might truly be gone.