billionaires in the us

Viral Twitter Thread Reveals How Famous Billionaires Didn’t Really Start Out “Poor” (11 Tweets)

There is a strange American belief that anyone can “lift themselves by their bootstraps” and become a millionaire or billionaire. In theory, there aren’t any official laws that explicitly say they can’t, but the likelihood that anyone born to poverty will become a billionaire in the U.S. is essentially non-existent. There may have been a time when improving your station in life was a bit easier, but the wealth gap has gotten so wide, and wages have remained so stagnant, basic survival is the challenge for too many.

But grotesquely wealthy people like Jeff Bezos are still lauded by conservatives who want to “inspire” poor people…into not criticizing the wealthy. On July 5th, Bloomberg anchor Jon Erlichman tweeted a photo of the house Bezos started Amazon in. Compared to his digs now, I’m sure it looks like an outhouse, but in reality, it’s a solidly upper-middle-class home.

This is a story frequently told about Bezos, as though he created one of the most exploitative and profitable companies in the world during the weekends when he had time off from coal-mining. That’s not the real story at all, as writer Aiden Smith explained in a thread on the myths of billionaires starting out “poor.”

He started with Bezos, explaining he got $245,573 from his parents in 1995 to keep Amazon from failing. Then he hit a few more favorites:

Jeff Bezos

Bill Gates

Warren Buffet

billionaires are evil, billionaires exploit 

Mark Zuckerberg

Kylie Jenner

And he didn’t even get to Elon Musk, the weirdo whose parents literally own an emerald mine in Zambia. Yes, a lot of people celebrated for their ambition and work ethic have never had to work as hard as someone who has three jobs at minimum wage, no education or opportunities, and definitely no family money. And those people won’t ever get to be billionaires. 

It’s bizarre to me that anyone worships these people, who often exploit labor and support politicians like Donald Trump, who keep their taxes low. But if you do want to look up to someone like Jeff Bezos, at least read more about him than “he started Amazon in a garage.” That garage might be even bigger than your apartment.

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