Role Models

When people rise to fame, such as sports figures, politicians, business people, community leaders, parents to their children, and anybody people look up to, they become role models. There have been role models forever.

I have heard many, particularly sports icons, say that people shouldn’t look to them as role models; they didn’t ask for that. That is bullshit. If you ever find yourself at that level in your career, where crowds of people come out to watch you play, you have become a role model even if you didn’t want to be. It comes with the territory, particularly in America.

With success comes responsibility. Many people who have made a lot of money set up foundations because they are tax shelters and allow people to impact areas close to their hearts. It could be anything from education to medicine to any meaningful targeting given to the donor.

People used to wait until they retired to start giving money away. The technology boom changed all of that. Many people who have made incredible amounts of money have created foundations to give some of their capital to things they care about.

Some of the numbers we see from tech giants appear to be significant sums of cash they are giving back to the community, but when you look under the cover, the amount they are giving away is not very big compared to their wealth. Sad but true.

Then we get to Elon Musk, who appears to not give a fuck about anything but himself. He created a $7b fund, but not much has gone anywhere. Just enough to keep the foundation active in the eye of the law. It is shocking but not shocking.

I can’t help but ask myself, what’s wrong with this picture? Why does this country create so many financially successful individuals who give away the least amount of money they can or none at all? We are one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, yet too many with financial success choose to build a rocket to the moon instead of creating social programs that can help the communities around which they live.

I wonder why anyone cares who Elon votes for and who he gets behind for President. He has proven himself to be an incredible entrepreneur who has impacted our world; SpaceX is the next one. Still, when it comes to doing the right thing with billions of dollars in his foundation for tax purposes, he can’t find it in his soul to give back as impactfully as his businesses have made to us.

The importance of public-private partnerships will increase in the decades since Reagan destroyed the concept of paying taxes for the greater good of running an efficient Government that would bleed down to the streets (literally), education, healthcare, breaking the cycle of poverty, etc.

I wonder how we got here in America and why we applaud people like this.