It came as a shock to me one day the social media was suddenly filled with news and commentaries about protests against Bill Gates in multiple countries around the world. And at the same time, Richard Branson is also being criticized relentlessly. I was confused about why these happened after all the efforts both of them have made to ‘make this world a better place’, and especially now both are combating coronavirus for the sake of all human beings.
To summarize the situation as I understand the movements against Bill Gates, they were mainly organized by the rising right-wings and one of their main nominal reasons is his appraisals to China’s performance in the coronavirus situation. Of course, they are the supporters of China conspiracy as well. It is never enough to address the stupidity of any nation-related conspiracy theory. And if any nation does have conspiracy, it is stupid too. Humans, for the first time in history, are truly living together. The meaning of nations should change with time and human condition as well, now and in the near future, more like communities instead of bordered countries. And eventually, eliminating all borders.
As for Sir Branson, some explained the reason why countries refuse to bail him out is because Virgin sued NHS in 2016 due to a problematic procurement process. The end of the story was that NHS paid Virgin some money to compensate and settle the case. But whether NHS was guilty or not (the possibility is not difficult to judge), the governments of other countries have to take into consideration their future relationship with the UK government. However, that is only a possible and somewhat reasonable guess. By reading Australian government’s articles, I agree it might be a reasonable and rational decision not to help Virgin Australia, if all they said was true. But as normal people, we will never have all the information to correctly judge their decisions.
Therefore, regardless of whether Virgin Australia should be saved by government or not, what made me uncomfortable is how people react to this issue. A popular saying is that Branson dodges tax all the time and when his company is in danger, he asks for loans contributed by tax payers. However, what’s the difference between that and ‘he did so much for the poor and the sick and the nature, which the governments failed to do with the tax paid by people, and when he’s in trouble all the people who haven’t directly benefited from him started to attack him’? I think the essential difference is the first situation is moral judgement against illegality, the second is moral judgement against humanity (including morality itself). Therefore, eventually it is a paradox of law and humanity. When laws fail to help the disadvantaged (here for example, people pay tax and then the tax is used for economic growth benefiting the already privileged, and war and arms, and oil industry damaging the environment, etc.), we need humanity to compensate. However, when people executing this important compensation are in need of help, many bring out the law and call them disgusting. Is that fair? Have they ever thought of the disadvantaged people in Africa how their lives would change if fewer people are capable to save them? The selfishness of people regarding to the tax they paid is the same with the selfishness of businessmen who dodge tax. There is no better or worse.
That said, everything happens for a reason. People are not to be blamed, nor the government, nor the laws, and of course nor humanity or morality. Despite of the above reasons, the blames to Bill Gates and Richard Branson also merged out of a common hatred for rich people called jealousy. There is a stereotype mindset against rich people. However, not all businessmen are bad. Going after benefit and avoiding harm is humanity, not bad. Harming others to benefit oneself is bad. The inequality made people jealous; the current societal system created inequality and that stereotype mindset.
I agree the rich should pay more tax to decrease the gap, if the extra tax they pay is used to decrease the gap, instead of damaging our planet. Most governments are not trustworthy in terms of properly using the tax they collected. (In contrast, Barcelona has enforced big companies to pay a lot of tax. And that is acceptable because Barcelona is the city with the highest social investment in Spain.) But they are trustworthy to have enough money to bail out a company. I guess that’s one of the reasons (besides saving profit of course) why big companies dodge tax and establish their own foundations, and ask for loan from the government when they are in trouble.
Therefore, the rational thing to do now is not to blame rich people, but to examine the problems with current governments, as well as current political and economic systems, and the whole human conditions. Every issue is related to every other issue. What we discussed here is only a tip of an iceberg. Luckily, there is a group of elites already started not only thinking but also actions to change the conditions – the Progressive International.
Both Bill Gates and Richard Branson appeared in the propaganda videos of Progressive International as negative figures as of where the money goes and who gets the benefit. I think this paradox has made their appearances even more meaningful although it might not be what the organization intended. Also, it always seems easier to unite people with ‘common hatred’ than with ‘common benefit’. Because many people may not know what they want but most people know what they don’t want. History has proved that perfectly. I have good faith in Progressive International and I hope this promising organization will not trap itself in the stereotype mindset. Afterall, it is wiser to unite with the good-hearted rich people instead of making them enemies.
Here attached the open call from Progressive International:
An Open Call to All Progressive Force
There is a global struggle taking place of enormous consequence.
Nothing less than the future of the planet is at stake.
The end of history promised peace and global prosperity.
Instead, it has destroyed communities, impoverished workers, and brought our environment to the brink of collapse.
Feeding on the discontent, a network of right-wing factions is spreading across borders, working to erode human rights, silence dissent, and promote intolerance.
The time has come for progressives around the world to organize.
Let’s mobilize behind a shared vision of democracy, solidarity and abundance.
Let’s stand together to fight inequality, exploitation, discrimination and environmental degradation.
Let’s reclaim our communities, our cities, our countries, and our planet.