Weekly Commentary for 05/01/22: Elon Musk Should Have Redirected That $43 Billion
Why Elon Musk and Other Ultra-Rich People Are Proof Positive That Capitalism Is Broken Due to Extreme Inequality
Elon Musk Buys Twitter for $44 billion in Cold, Hard Cash: What Better Ways Could That Money Have Been Allocated?
By Rev. Paul J. Bern
I’ve seen a lot on the news media this past week about Elon Musk’s pending acquisition of Twitter for $44,000,000,000.00, and so have most of you, my dearly beloved readers. But what I haven’t seen or heard discussed very much is better ways that the $44 billion could have been spent. And it would be all about the American people as opposed to gloating over the perceived ‘success’ of Elon Musk. The link below is to a story about Mr. Musk’s purchase of Twitter, followed by 7 good ideas of my own concerning how the money could have been better spent.
 National School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is typically the Nation's second largest food and nutrition assistance program. NSLP operates in nearly 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools (grades PK-12) and residential child care institutions. On average, the NSLP provided low-cost or free lunches to 29.6 million children each school day in fiscal year (FY) 2019, at a total cost of $14.2 billion.
“In FY 2020, NSLP participation averaged 22.6 million children each school day and total expenditures on the program amounted to $10.4 billion. These declines are attributable to disruptions in the program’s operations in the second half of FY 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which forced the closure of many schools and child care institutions beginning in March. In response to these disruptions and to meet rising food needs during the pandemic, USDA issued waivers allowing for flexibility in the implementation of the NSLP and expanding the scope and coverage of the program’s Seamless Summer Option (SSO). Overall, about 3.2 billion meals were served through the NSLP or SSO, 33.4 percent fewer than in FY 2019.” (Copyright © 2022 by NPR.org)
So, $44 billion dollars would buy 42 million school lunches for grades pre-K through high school seniors for just 2 months shy of four calendar years. That is counting the summer months too.
 How many low cost apartments for poor people could be built with $44 billion?
President Biden has signaled that he understands the scale of the country’s housing crisis and commensurately vast response necessary to address it. In the hours following the inauguration ceremony, Biden signed an executive order extending the CDC’s national eviction moratorium, which had been set to expire on Jan. 31, through the end of March and called on Congress to further extend it to the end of September. He also asked Congress to take on a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 emergency relief package that includes $30 billion for rental and utility assistance and $5 billion to stabilize people at risk of homelessness and to fund rapid rehousing efforts. In total, Biden’s plan would spend $640 billion on housing and homelessness over 10 years. So, Elon Musk’s $44 billion would build enough low cost housing for up to 1,400 apartments per calendar year for a maximum of 10 years. This would put the final nail in the coffin of homelessness across America.
 How much health care could people get for $44 billion dollars?
The federal government spent nearly $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2019 on healthcare. In addition, income tax expenditures for health care totaled $234 billion. Of that, Medicare claimed roughly $644 billion, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Pro-gram (CHIP) about $427 billion, and veterans’ medical care about $80 billion. So $44 billion dollars would cover all the health care costs for the entire country for the better part of a year. Whatever you’re currently spending each month for health insurance premiums, $44 billion dollars would pay about 8-9 months of all the combined expenses of everybody.
 If Elon Musk’s $44 billion dollars got divided up 335,000,000 ways, one sum for each person living in the US, and got converted into an income tax rebate, each of us – men, women and children – would get a check for $131,343.28!
 Elon Musk’s $44 billion dollars would wipe out poverty on a global scale in less than a year.
 Elon Musk’s $44 billion dollars would bring running water and electricity for every person on the face of the earth who currently has no ready access to either. That’s about 2.2 billion people. Better get busy, Elon…..
 There are currently 227,000 licensed drivers in the US. If Elon Musk’s $44 billion dollars got divided evenly between each license holder, each licensee would get $193,832.59 for new luxury cars for themselves and their spouses at a cost of about $96,000.00 each.
Capitalism Is Broken
In closing for this week’s commentary, I would just like to say that Elon Musk and others like him all symbolize what is wrong with our capitalist economic system. The purchase of Twitter will funnel Twitter’s profits into the pockets of Elon Musk, a man who is known for having very deep pockets. Meanwhile, one out of every four American children will go to bed hungry on some nights because their parents can’t afford to buy food. Some people are out of work because their cars or trucks have broken down and they don’t have sufficient funds for repairs, or to simply replace their clunker with a decent used car that they can depend on. Still others are in bankruptcy court because they can’t pay their medical bills. And many are burdened with out-of-sight student loans that have them so broke they must continue to live with their parents. Unless you don’t have any parents who are still living, in which case they often sleep in their cars.
The Scourge of Inequality
The scourge of inequality is rolling over our horizons like a giant shock wave from a massive explosion – an explosion of consumer debt, and with student loans being on the crest of that wave. It is also a war pitting rich against poor, and the rich are winning hands-down. Although I see nothing wrong with having some success in financial terms, when that success comes at the expense of multitudes of people, it becomes unjust. And it is this very lack of justice that will give rise to much social unrest in the coming years. Only time will tell if the American people finally make up their minds that they must oppose inequality at every turn. I’m waiting…..
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