Is there any more ethical solution to our current circumstances than "murder all billionaires"?

Not that I'm particularly against that - quite the opposite, in fact. But I'm wondering if anyone sees, or had seen a path to social and climate recovery/progress that could occur without first eradicating the class of people who most enjoy the present status quo.


So, let’s put aside for a moment the rather shocking number of people casually advocating for murder in this thread.

I want to talk instead about how everyone here is just talking for granted the notion that removing the billionaires, Republican politicians, or whatever “they” you care to think of, would be a solution, or even a positive step, for modern social ills.

There’s a big undercurrent in almost any political discussion online, this implication that every one of the world’s problems actually has a super simple solution, that The Powerful could just snap their fingers and make it happen if they wanted to, and it’s only because of their greed etc that we have any problems that all. Obviously we live in a time of huge inequity and we’d be a lot better off if we found a good way to improve it.

But many (most?) of our biggest problems are inherent to the challenge of keeping 8 billion people alive and happy in a hostile universe, and in fact nobody has ever had a perfect solution. Throwing the entire planet into chaos by causally throwing away human beings’ rights and leaving an enormous portion of the world’s capital in uncertain hands, ready to be seized by some other set of psychopathic opportunists who happen to be in a position to do so, certainly ain’t it.

RiikkaTheIcePrincess avatar

What a load of shit. "Ohh, the poor rich people can't help it, they're doing their beesssttt, they can't just fix everything! It's such a haarrrdd probleemmmm!!"

This garbage might be respectable by someone with no actual sense if "The Powerful" ever tried to fix anything, but they don't. They sit on unimaginable shitloads of money that people "imagine" could be put toward some beneficial purpose and do nothing but ruin Earth and ruin humanity through the influence it implies. Hell, these people can cause change without even spending any appreciable portion of "their" money and they still won't do any good for anyone.

I'm disgusted that I even have to type any of this; bootlickers deserve no respect and "The Powerful" deserve worse. "Sit down and shut up unless you have a perfect fix for everything right now" while the fucking planet is burning is possibly the most asinine thing I've heard. Enjoy your navel-gazing, I guess. Let us know when you've figured everything out without hurting anyone "worth" more than a few million dollars.


Hear, hear.

I just don't get some people's mindset. Thousands - millions - of people die every year from causes that are either preventable through the application of money, or else can be directly laid at the feet of just these few individuals, but ohhh no, we can't let THEM be killed, that's an intolerable moral atrocity!

alternative_factor avatar

They are actively putting the future of the entire human species at risk and your answer is just "well things can't be perfect lol". Things can't be perfect, but things CAN be better. To seriously assume that some lunatic like Elon Musk has humanity's best interest at heart is naive at best. I'm not saying we need to resort to violence, but we are clearly running out of time, and might even be out of time.


I'd add that the problem is also a societal context that prioritize consuming above all else. Not a good combo with 8 billion peeps.


It works if you have strong guardrails. We currently do not. Though we're getting better, somewhat, in the West at least.

TheOlympian avatar

Guardrails can only be enforced by the largest concentration of power. Since power will concentrate to those who push up against those guardrails most, they're incentivized to remove them. This is the conclusion of capitalism.


Democracy is supposed to help stave that off. Ideally we create a strong government that wants to retain control and it fights back the corporations. But it only works if we stay engaged.


Even if it were possible for everyone to stay engaged with every important issue, which it isn't, we now live in an era where automated propaganda can reach the entire world and create the illusion of democracy. This illusion is created by drowning out actual people's voices. When we're able to do better at automated language translation, which is very soon, this will be an even bigger problem.

You can see a lot of this in a lot of non-US English speaking countries where some people fly Trump flags or are sovereign citizens or buy into "The Great Reset" covid vaccination conspiracies despite their "evidence" not applying to their country's reality.

Guardrails and democracy doesn't quite cut it when the people who have the power create the guardrails and disguise themselves as the majority.

We need to change how we ascribe power, and for me that means changing how we ascribe rewards.


None of that is particular to capitalism though. Why do you think changing that would change the way power loves power? Hell, the non capitalist countries of the world have even stronger propaganda than the capitalist ones.


I'm not who you originally replied to, and I agree it's not specific to capitalism. I do think that capitalism does a great job of showing how money as a reward system and people's ability to purchase power can lead to horrible things.

My personal take is that we need to re-evaluate what we reward and how we calculate value. But I acknowledge that's a very long term sort of thing, not an immediately actionable next step.

Talaraine avatar

The base problem is that those with the money can easily buy out those with political power. Until that ends, there's literally no other task before us. Kill the rich, or kill the least until they have a SMIDGEN of thought in their minds that taking a bribe might mean a bad end.

Currently, there's no such mental block. Talk ALL you WANT. The law won't touch them.

And I'm someone who doesn't want violence. I've just watched 40 years of it and seen no other solution.


lol so the rich can buy out those with political power...but a bunch of angry peasants show up at their doors and you think they're suddenly helpless? They'll go out to the mob and say "I'll give $1 million each to the last 10 men standing" and the mob will destroy itself.

Awhiskeydrunker avatar

Well put. Things are bad for many, maybe most right now. But they are generally also better than they have been at any point in the history of organized civilization (not for every individual, but for an ever larger proportion of people). The climate being an exception, and the tearing at the fringes of both sides of the political spectrum becoming a little more visible/tangible. I don’t think the world of 10/15 years from now will look anything like the world we have today, and a lot will change. But you are probably right that it’s an oversimplification to just blame it on an elite cabal that runs the worlds governments by proxy.

be_excellent_to_each_other avatar

There’s a big undercurrent in almost any political discussion online, this implication that every one of the world’s problems actually has a super simple solution, that The Powerful could just snap their fingers and make it happen if they wanted to, and it’s only because of their greed etc that we have any problems that all.

You mean like when Musk said he'd solve hunger if someone told him how, then they told him how, and that it would require only a couple percent of his wealth, and he did jack shit?


Return the tax rate for the uppermost bracket to what it was before 1981 when Reagan screwed us all over. That rate is 70%, by the by.

yunggwailo avatar

Nobody was actually paying that tax rate. Its very misleading


Do you think the ultra rich will pay up? Also the government is the US is quite corrupt, this money won’t fix anything. Fist fix corruption, then try to help the poor.


Why do these have to happen serially? “Fix corruption” could take decades and honestly will probably never be fixed. “Tax the mega-rich” takes less than 4 years.


Because the corruption is actively standing in the way of altering tax rates


There are relatively few steps that would go a long way toward stopping the accumulation of obscene amounts of wealth.

  • Make tax rates similar to what we had in the 50s (conservatives love the 50s), with the brackets adjusted for inflation.
  • Make all types of income tax at those rates.
  • Eliminate taxable income caps including social security withholding.
  • Make inheritance and gift taxes equivalent.
  • End Citizens United through congressional action.
  • Use that tax money on social programs, small business development programs, and infrastructure.

If you want to really jump start things we should also make all campaigns publicly funded.

Eavolution avatar

Personally I'd have 0 inheritance and gift taxes, they've always struck me as weird, tax has already been paid on the money when it was earned (income/capital gains/dividend etc tax), so why is more tax owed when the money is going to someone who's usually family?


The trouble is all the billionaires feeding money into governmental institutions worldwide to PREVENT that from happening. We'd need a full cleansing of all political theater to be anti corrupt before it was ever settled through law alone.


we also really need measures to stop large companies from buying up all their competition and slowly turning into trillion $ megacorps that own every brand in existence


We have antitrust laws, we just need to enforce them.

Xeelee avatar

That's exactly right. The advocates of capitalism like to sing the praises of the free markets. But in many fields, especially in the media and tech, there is no such thing as a free market. Just a bunch of oligopolies that use corruption to maintain their position. Microsoft, Google, Meta, for instance, should all be broken up. Same with banks. If it's too big to fail, it's too big to exist.


Imo antitrust laws are just as important as enforcing taxation when it comes to bringing our socioeconomic system back to sanity, but no one ever talks about that.

j4k3, avatar

Japan solved the overpaid corporate culture nonsense. Australia has the most wealth equality, without the parasitic billionaire problem. The solutions have existed for a long time.

The real issue in the USA is the lack of effective legislation. There is no political accountability. This is all due to a two party system. All it takes to fix the USA is outlawing gerrymandering, rejecting the electoral college, and institute tiered voting where everyone votes for the candidates based upon their preferred priority order. Popular votes is the only Democratic method. Representative republics are a corruption of democracy that was a necessity with the travel and communication limitations of 300 years ago but not now. Voting for candidates by priority would make party affiliation nearly meaningless and force accountability and substance because the difference between candidates would drastically decrease. It would eliminate the polarized nonsense that all the billionaires want. It isn’t about the ridiculous nonsense, it is about ensuring very little productive legislation is possible. No laws means do anything you want. The US has a tenth of the laws and protections of any other western country.


May I introduce you to STAR voting? Maybe the single best voting system ever created.

A simple TLDR; you rate candidates on a scale of 0-5. Multiple candidates can have the same rating if you so choose.

That's the easy part for voters, now how it's counted is also simple. You can either average the scores that every candidate gets, or simply add them up.

The two candidates with the highest average or highest total are instantly entered into a run-off. Now, the cool part, the ballots are looked at, and whoever has the highest score on each ballot gets that vote.

So if the final two are rated a 3 and a 4 on one person's ballot, the ballot goes to the person rated a 4.

But wait, what if someone rates the final two the same? Well, those votes are also counted as "no preference". That data is also released, so when someone is elected they can see, x% of the population didn't prefer them over their closest competition.

It's a system that is so much better than nonsense like RCV. A system so bad that it actually sets voting reform efforts back, and makes it infinitely harder to actually get a good system in place.


Australia has the most wealth equality, without the parasitic billionaire problem.

Australia has plenty of parasitic billionaires and it's an increasing problem. Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart is a mining heiress who once lamented that Africans were willing to work for $2 a day and Australian labour was too expensive. She's also extremely politically active and has had a good deal to do with generous government subsidies for the mining industry.

yunggwailo avatar

Also like, Murdoch? One of the single most disastrously influential people in the anglosphere. Lmao


Tax all billionaires more?


The problem isn't the exact rate, it is their ability to pay for tax experts so they can avoid having most of their wealth taxed at all. This is why Biden wanted to beef up the IRS and sic them on billionaires. Scrutinize the cracks they slip through.


That’s part of the problem; but, increasing tax rates (income, capital gains, depreciation recapture, 1031 exchanges etc) is needed even more than enforcement of existing. You’d be surprised how much of what the rich do to reduce their tax burden is perfectly legal and IRS enforcement would just be an annoyance.

GonzoVeritas avatar

Yes, and it's simple and effective - Tax them and limit the huge transfers of intergenerational wealth. When the US had a robust taxation system with high marginal rates for the highest income levels, we also had the strongest and most robust middle class. It powered the "American Dream." Having individuals hoard billions of dollars and build familial dynasties isn't good for society as a whole.
In my opinion, it all begins with ending the system of legalized political bribery, getting dark money out of politics, and making politicians accountable to citizens again.

csm10495, (edited ) avatar

Raise taxes on people making billions of dollars a year. Redo the tax code to make it impossible for them to avoid paying a fair share.

Also while were at it, I’d be in favor of a maximum allowed compensation (for hot shots) based off the salary of rank and file employees.

Talaraine avatar

While I know this is silly and would never work, I can't help but fantasize about giving anyone that makes a billion dollars a beautiful fancy trophy....

And then forbid them from making a dollar more until they spend it all.


Raise taxes on people making billions of dollars a year.

I believe higher taxation on the wealthy is necessary, but how do we actually implement that?

Our tax code is base upon “realized gains”. Most of these billionaires aren’t actually getting deposits into their checking accounts for a billion dollars a year. Most their wealth and their gains come in the value of their assets increasing (stock is one example of an asset). The tax code does tax them when they sell the stock to get money to deposit in their checking accounts, and the billionaires do that, but just not with very much money. Certainly nothing even close to a billion dollars in a single year.

So how do you tax them? Do you tax them on the value of their assets? If the value of their assets goes down, do you give the tax money back? All of these questions and more would need to be answered for a coherent tax code that could be enforced. I don’t have the answers, but I’m very open to those that do.


Do you tax them on the value of their assets?

Yes. I'm in favor of a wealth tax.

If the value of their assets goes down, do you give the tax money back?

I think that's reasonable, when warranted. If you overpay income tax, the IRS pays you back with interest.

I think a prerequisite is to exempt any wealth below, say $5 million or something. That would greatly simplify the system just by virtue of cutting out 98% of people.

Would need a parallel business wealth tax of course, so people don't just create a business to hold their wealth.

csm10495, avatar

When I get stock from work, I have to pay tax on the value at the time as if it was just regular cash coming in (even if i don’t immediately sell). It gets added into my W2. It’s really annoying since it leads to a bigger tax bill come tax season … why doesn’t that happen for them?


The wealthy get "loans" rather than stock awards.

But if they do get stock awards, they're taxed like income just like yours.

VoxAdActa avatar

Do you tax them on the value of their assets?

Tax them on the value they claim their assets have every time they get a loan for something.

You're right that they're not necessarily walking around with $1bil in their checking accounts, but they're still able to spend that money as if they were. Mostly this is by taking out enormous loans at sweetheart interest rates; they either pay them back with dividends from their investments, or they don't ever pay them back at all (see: Buy, Borrow, Die ).

So they get all the benefit of having a $1bil checking account, but never have to pay the taxes on it.

Therefore, we have to tax the value of their assets somehow, and I believe the best way is to use their self-reported assets. Take the average reported asset value from all the loan applications they made this year and hit that with a 50% top-bracket marginal tax. Or a Regan-era top tax bracket (71%), or maybe an Eisenhower-era top tax bracket (90%).

They want to pretend to be poor, and cry about how none of their wealth is "liquid"? Make them live that way.

linearchaos, avatar

Demand money be removed from politics and follow through to make it happen. Make laws that no longer favor the rich.

It’ll never happen, but it’s what it would take.

riverjig, avatar

I’ll add that we can now remove the tax exempt status for religious organizations. Only problem is it puts more money in the hands of the government so they mismanage that as well.

I wish we could get full transparency of where literally every dollar is spent. We shouldn’t have to ask for that.


Think globally act locally y’all


Well, there may be a solution, but it does involve eugenics and wars about those eugenics and we’ll have to wait another 40 years for things to actually start to get better, but then we get to boldly go places. Also Irish reunification.

Kill_joy avatar

Tiocfaidh ár lá


This would effectively do nothing, arguably not even in 40 years, because it does nothing to address the systemic issues which permit these problems to flourish


This is a star trek reference


I mean, take all their money so that they’re no longer billionaires.


I think it's possible they might have an opinion on that subject, perhaps loosely phrased as "over my dead body"


Well, then they'll have consented, then. Ethical conundrum solved!


Most billionaires don't just have a savings account filled with money. The money is usually in their companies, which they have a controlling interest in and can withdraw or deposit into at will. Even that is not stored as cash, but as valuations based on stock prices or whatever which can be converted to equity on a loan. The problem of dealing with billionaires would require measures which affect not just personal property, but private property.

SugaredScoundrel, avatar

This post is as bad as the stuff on exploding heads. I have an idea, let’s not plan on murdering people based on their gender, class, race, or any other circumstance.


So what you're saying is, you believe there is a solution?

Can your share a general outline, at least?

SugaredScoundrel, avatar

No, I haven’t thought about actively preventing the mass murder of people who have more than me.

This nihilistic worldview, expressed by you and the others commenting and downvoting me will kill more than the 1 percenters.

ReCursing avatar

It's not people who have more than you, it's people who have more than everyone else combined! At one point (not sure of current numbers) SEVEN people had more wealth between tham than the poorest fifty percent.

That's 7 people vs 350 000 000 000 people.

Are any of those seven people really more than fifty billion times more valuable than a homeless child in Delhi?


Not to diminish your point, or advocate for murdering anyone, but the current world population is about 8 billion, half of which is 4 000 000 000 - you're of by a factor of 100 or so.

SugaredScoundrel, avatar

So we should kill them?

But to answer your question, of course they are not intrinsically more valuable than any other human. Their lives are worth exactly the same as any others. They’re the same as those fighting in Ukraine. They’re the same as the migrants that died on that ship trying to get to a better life.

This question is flawed. We should be looking at how best to raise the standard of living across the world.

ReCursing avatar

We should be looking at how best to raise the standard of living across the world.

Yes we should. And when wealth is that concentrated the obvious solution is... well... obvious - take some of the wealth from those seven people and spread it around. The only questions are how much to take and how to take it. All of it, and by killing them should be last options, but it must be options because without that threat you have no negotiating position that will result in a useful outcome.

The question is not flawed, it just stepped over a a question you didn't know you had, but that you answered for yourself in under a second when you did think about it.

brcl avatar

Well, I mean, I don’t think we’d actually murder them. I’d call it euthanize, it’s much more tolerable.


HubertManne avatar

Anything that would sterilize the human population. By the time something evolves to our level again the earth should be pretty well recovered.


I'm also not not in favour of this solution

HubertManne avatar

I thought you just wanted something ethical. I don't think anything you will be in favor of will result in a non horrible outcome barring some sci fi level technology. Even fusion is not enough. Stuff like stargates zero point modules and star treks replicators or at least nanobot swarms would be needed.

Narrrz, (edited )

I'm happy with an ethical solution to the present problems holding back societal advancement.

I also happen to believe the planet would be bettered by our extinction.

These are not (necessarily) connected.


The number for people advocating for murder here is truly disturbing.


The number of people who are okay with people continuing to die of preventable causes, just as long as it doesn't require murdering a few individuals, is, well, not disturbing, but kinda depressing

borzoiteeth, (edited )
borzoiteeth avatar

Once upon a time Elon Musk challenged the UN that if someone solved world hunger he would fund it. Then someone I can't remember the name of gave out a detailed explanation that only would take 2 or 3% of his wealth to completely fund it (per year?).

Musk's response to this? To completely ignore it.

That's why people say murder is the only option.

[edit] found a news article detailing this better.


I wonder why his purchase of twitter was decided to be legally binding, but not this 🤔


A nuclear bomb would probably also put a quick stop to the Russia-Ukraine war, but there's such a thing as overkill and throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I suspect there are a number of actions we can take before we get to murder, even if I share the same anger that people like Musk can just ignore and exploit the world around them.

borzoiteeth avatar

Please excuse me, I do not understand how a nuclear bomb relates to anything I said. The only way I can get this to translate for myself is:

Someone has the means to save millions of lives. They even claimed they would do it if given good detailed plan. They then ignore said plan and let millions of people suffer.

I guess that is kind of like a nuclear bomb?


Sorry, I probably haven't been clear enough, it's a bad habit. Thanks for asking for clarification!

The nuclear bomb is my conceptual parallel for an overly drastic and wide-spread death-inducing solution to a valid perceived problem. While effective in the short term at achieving the desired result, the consequences of using that strategy causes arguably bigger problems in the long run. The same is true to me for "murder billionaires" as a strategy.

I also consider human exploitation like Musk actively ignoring viable world hunger solutions to just be murder at a much slower pace though. And I can understand people's desire for the death penalty even if I disagree with it.

I hope that... maybe cleared up something. I may have just made it worse though.

borzoiteeth avatar

Oh I always expect it's me not reading clearly but thank you!

However I still feel its a poor comparison because the amount of billionaires that exist is around 2,600 people. That is no where near a number one would put next to what the damage a (figurative) nuclear bomb can do. Such a bomb that kills so many instantly but also slowly kills millions of others as well as continues to slowly poison the earth around it for hundreds of years to come.

The other misunderstanding here is that people stating, "kill billionaires" isn't being stated as a plan- its a vent. An expression of helplessness. Not to state there aren't people who think that is a very valid plan. But people stating it is all they can "do" about this. Because right now the only thing that can stop billionaires is themselves.

This next part I can only state from my experience, but when the news came out over the terrified teen who didn't want to go with his father in that cursed sub that imploded recently I never saw hate for that child. Just hate for everyone else who created the situation to begin with.

I hope this did clear things up!


The nuke was admittedly a hyperbolic example. I'm no weapons specialist, feel free to replace it with the weapon of your choice which has the similar size collateral damage and long-lasting consequences of the existing damage billionaires cause. I personally think that many people underestimate the damage caused by sudden and violent shifts in power though.

And I totally appreciate "kill billionaires" as a vent, but it's increasingly clear that as things get worse fewer people are just venting and more people are taking it on as an actual solution to the problem. Given how many people support the death penalty, it's not absurd enough a statement to say "kill billionaires" and not expect people to take it serious option.

To me billionaires are the symptom of a much larger issue. For me the problem is "how do we reduce suffering and exploitation (people and environment) the most in the long-term". Killing people now doesn't seem like the best way to achieve that. Partly because killing people as a penalty has historically led to revenge killings and the cycle of suffering continues, but also because sudden changes in societal power structures have historically led to people at the bottom of social hierarchies being the people who suffer the most. For example, killing the entire leadership of a country's government can put an immediate stop to some atrocity that government is committing, but the people who it will hurt the most are people who rely on that government's public services to survive. Like people with disabilities who are least able to escape warzones and become refugees, or "unskilled labour" who are fired and no longer can afford food/rent without the altruism of others. Yes, the immediate people who are causing the atrocity have experienced a penalty for their actions, but there are still huge penalties for other people who weren't directly responsible. When those people feel they are being punished for something they didn't do, then they retaliate and commit atrocities themselves. Then they need to be punished etc. etc.

The path forward has to be something which minimises collateral damage to others, and at the moment, proper taxation and law enforcement are a couple of methods of doing that. It doesn't go far enough though, and I believe we need to re-evaluate how we define and measure "value" because we currently reward some of the worst of human behaviour with more power via money.

I'm still a little sad exile isn't a feasible solution these days though. I would have fewer ethical issues with leaving Musk or Bezos alone in the middle of a wilderness naked and letting them find out what "earning" actually means.

borzoiteeth avatar

Historically, killing those in power has been a solution. Though just as you stated it, it is overall is a short-term solution. However for most people they are suffering to the point that any immediate relief is all that matters, further consequences be damned.

That said, I know Dolly Parton isn't on the list of people hated. (though to be fair she isn't even near a billionaire. However she is a great example of someone who doesn't abuse her power.)


It definitely has been our go-to, and given how frequently we keep coming back to it, I don't think it's worked as a sustainable long-term solution and we should probably try something less death-based first. I appreciate that anger frequently chooses the more immediately satisfying short term solution though, blood-lust is a very real thing and we're still just overgrown apes. I just think we need to move a little past that if we're going to survive and thrive as a species.

I'm ok with Dolly Parton sticking around, I think it's very possible the amount of good she has done outweighs the damage. Even if I raised an eyebrow at her Kid Rock collaborations.

borzoiteeth avatar

Ah, not up to date on that American pop culture stuff. Had to look up who Kid Rock was, sorry to hear.


The problem with a nuclear bomb is the collateral damage, and the lasting effects. If either side had a way to specifically and exclusively eliminate enemy soldiers, I'm sure they would take it. Hell, Russia would certainly have used their nukes if it weren't for the mutually assured destruction threat.

By contrast, specifically eliminating billionaires is much more like targeted elimination. Am equivalent to nuking would be to kill everyone over a specific wealth threshold, and everyone at every company they own.


Eliminating individual billionaires without addressing the systemic issues is not a viable strategy, even if it were humane. It's also not without collateral damage even if there's obviously less than my hyperbolic hypothetical nuke. Billionaires control people's livelihoods, they have families, etc. Killing a person is never without creating suffering of some variety.

Killing billionaires as a strategy is like instigating a military coup in another country. The result is a power vacuum, a struggle for supremacy, and the people who pay the highest price are the most vulnerable groups who already own nothing. And then, you just end up with the person left alive who is the most cut-throat taking the previous person's place.

The system of rewarding antisocial and destructive behaviour with power is what needs to change. Otherwise you're just cutting heads off a hydra.

alternative_factor avatar

TBPH I feel like billionaires are more afraid of losing their wealth than their lives at this point. I know they are out of touch but they seriously have made every attempt at curbing peaceful solutions such as taxation, or even just talking to normal people in general.


We can always run an experiment to find out!

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