Golden Bunkers

In its January 30th issue, The New Yorker ran a piece by Evan Osnos, Doomsday Prep by the Super Rich, describing the elaborate measures many billionaires are taking to protect themselves in the event of civil unrest. Those run the gamut from purchasing million dollar luxury condominiums in decommissioned missile silos to buying second (or third or fourth) homes in such presumably safe countries as New Zealand. There is a delicious irony to the rise of this survivalist movement among the very wealthy as billionaire Donald Trump is inaugurated president surrounded by a cabinet from the top 0.1%. Including the $20T national debt run up by tax cuts that largely favor the wealthy, during the past 36 years something of order $30T has been redistributed from ordinary Americans and their progeny to the financial elite. History strongly suggests that the resulting wealth inequality, by far the worst among developed countries, will inevitably lead to social instability. The longevity of the United States owes a great deal to leaders like the Roosevelts and Kennedys who recognized that the interests of their privileged class lay in keeping inequality within acceptable limits. The billionaire preppers would do well to realize that for a fraction of the cost of buying foreign refuges and building bunkers they could reverse the current drift toward anarchy by simply paying their fair share of taxes.

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