Meerkats and Muskrats

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think the super-wealthy are a waste of space on the planet, for with few exceptions they are far more concerned with hoarding their wealth or throwing their money away on toys such as cars, mansions, yachts, airplanes, and even spaceships these days than with using their wealth to help others who are struggling merely to survive. There are many such greedy billionaires, but the one in the news this week is Elon Musk, who just wasted some $44 billion to buy yet another toy: Twitter. Fellow-blogger Ben from ‘cross the big pond shares with us his take on it, and I fully agree with him … couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Ben!!!

Coalition of the Brave

A muskrat.

Muskrats are reasonably cute rodents. A less-pleasant rodent is Elon Musk, who has recently bought the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion.

$44 billion is obviously an eye-wateringly large sum of money, and beyond the reach of mere mortals. There are many good uses for that sort of money. Musk could put a huge dent in world hunger. He could significantly improve quality of life for millions in the USA. Instead Musk (like his billionaire chums Bezos and Zuckerberg) has preferred to spend the money on vanity projects. Control of Twitter (a platform with millions of users, all over the world) will let Musk steer the narrative of social and political discourse on that platform. He claims to be interested in free speech, but long before that becomes an excuse to let miscreants troll people, without consequence?

What’s a meerkat to do? I’ve built myself a…

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33 thoughts on “Meerkats and Muskrats

  1. Instinct:
    You know how an animal will pause, listen or go to ground or maybe growl at something which cannot be seen or maybe does not appear at odds to our muted human senses.
    That’s instinct, born of senses.
    Now our senses are somewhat muted but even so, we can still bring them to use….. You might well support those who believe Climate Change is a threat and you might believe that AI is also a threat, however….
    Mr Musk, I do believe I might use the following in your case:

    “I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
    The reason why – I cannot tell;
    But this I know, and know full well,
    I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.”

    And question of the day.
    Do you need a billion to live comfortably?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I DO Love the Suess-style poem!!! I, too, do not like him, not at all. Billions of dollars, an incomprehensible amount of money to most of us, are such a waste when in the offshore accounts of the wealthy. Meanwhile, people are living in the streets, going to bed hungry at night, and where is Elon Musk? Playing on f*#$ing Twitter, making up conspiracy theories about an 82-year-old man who was brutally beaten in his home! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Lemme just go join my pack now, please! 🐺

      Liked by 1 person

      • And then we have…say for instance Keanu Reeves: (Extract from Wikipedia)

        “Reeves supports several charities and causes. In response to his sister’s battle with leukemia, he founded a private cancer foundation, which aids children’s hospitals and provides cancer research. In June 2020, he volunteered for Camp Rainbow Gold, an Idaho children’s cancer charity. Reeves has said, “Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries”.It was rumoured that Reeves gave away a substantial portion, estimated to be $35–$125 million, of his earnings from The Matrix to the special effects and makeup crews. However, this has been significantly embellished; Reeves negotiated a smaller deal relinquishing his contractual right to a percentage of the sequels’ profits in exchange for a more extensive special effects budget

        Reeves co-founded a production company, Company Films, with friend Stephen Hamel. An avid motorcyclist, Reeves co-founded Arch Motorcycle Company, which builds and sells custom motorcycles. In 2017, Reeves, Jessica Fleischmann, and Alexandra Grant founded book publisher, X Artists’ Books (also known as XAB).] He has written two books: Ode to Happiness and Shadows, both of which are collaborations with Grant; he provided the text to her photographs and art.”

        All against the backdrop of losing a wife, child, sister and close friend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I did not know that about Keanu Reeves … don’t pay much attention to celebs, I guess. But yeah, he sounds like a good guy and I do know there are some good people among the wealthy, like those who have joined in The Giving Pledge, committing to give the bulk of their wealth to charitable causes. Some of them actually do, like Bill and Melinda Gates, but Elon Musk also signed that pledge and hasn’t upheld his commitment. I just don’t understand, I guess, the lure of money. We have enough, between Chris’ salary and my retirement/Social Security, to manage the necessities and a few ‘extras’ (like my cigarettes) and it’s enough. We still manage to donate to causes like the local food banks and homeless shelters — not a lot, but what we can. Anyway … I digress … thanks for the info about Reeves … it IS good to know, to be reminded, that not everyone in show biz is a jackass.

          Liked by 1 person

    • My thoughts are that buying Twitter is naught but an ego trip for Musk. I have a strong dislike of wealthy people who hoard their wealth and waste it on foolishness as Musk does. Sigh. Frankly, I’m GLAD I’m not wealthy!!! Except … well, I would love to be able to do more to help those in need. xx

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  2. Musk explained why he bought Twitter.

    “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk wrote. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”

    He went on: “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all-hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

    Why not take the man at his word? He says he is doing this as a public service. $44 billion, more than the market value of the company, is a bit much to waste on “a toy”.

    I don’t agree with a great deal of what Alex Jones says or Kayne West when he goes on anti-Semitic rant, but they should be heard. They will discredit themselves if heard. They are more likely to become martyrs if suppressed. People can determine for themselves what is sensible speech and what is not. .

    The problem with censorship is who determines what is truth and what is not? Who determines what is misinformation and what is not? Do you really trust the entity which has the power to always use it wisely and judiciously? Do you want the phone company to limit your speech or determine what conversations are allowed or not allowed? Hopefully not. Why should Twitter be any different? I shouldn’t censor your thoughts nor should you censor mine even though we have divergent views.

    Why are you afraid of a true free speech platform where the best ideas win?

    Musk is being vilified for streamlining a company which has never made a profit and has a high price/earning ratio. He is also being vilified for supporting the Constitutional notion of free speech. Don’t y’all support the Constitution? You like to quote it and defend it when serves your interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not particularly inclined to believe Musk is acting out of altruism, considering he hasn’t exactly got a history of this. As I outlined, and as others have pointed out, the sum of money he paid for Twitter could have served numerous, more important purposes. Instead of say, paying his workers more, he’s indulged in what is almost certainly a vanity project for someone with an ego like his. He isn’t doing it for freedom of speech.

      Freedom of speech doesn’t mean a private site like Twitter has to indulge every hate-fuelled rant. Like any business, Twitter would eject people who could not abide by the rules. If you went into a Walmart or a Starbucks and starting screaming anti-semantic sentiments, would freedom of speech be a valid counterpoint to being ejected and banned from such places? Social media should be no different. There are limits for a reason. Hate speech, vile trolling (which I have witnessed and been subjected to), and defamation of character is what we will a lot more of on Twitter if it becomes an unmoderated, internet Wild West. What we definitely won’t see is the facing off of different ideas.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Ben, I believe Mr Musk did state, “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all-hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”
        So long as the rules of conduct apply to everyone in a fair and reasonable manner.
        In a capitalist system, monetary distribution is not fair or even just, but ppl still have the right to do want they want with their own money no matter or frivolous or idiotic.
        Ideally altruism and charity should go hand in hand with having great wealth.

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        • The question is, will Musk keep to his word? I am not convinced, and will let time be the judge. There has already been an explosion of people being quite vile to others, and it will be on Mr Musk to prove he won’t tolerate a wild landscape of trolls and miscreants.

          As for the system that led him to have $44 billion to spend on this vanity project, it is in desperate need of reform. My post (which Jill kindly shared) offered up some insight in the sort of money that could be raised via a wealth tax, and the sort of good it could do. Unfortunately, even the suggestion of something that would still allow for the rich to be rich, yet also benefit millions of others, gets decried and derided by kneejerk conservatives.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I don’t know if Musk is acting altruistically in this instance. I don’t know if he will keep his word. However, we get ourselves into trouble when we try to judge motivations as you are here. We cannot effectively do it (although we do incessantly). I do know what Musk said. I do know that we will later be able to compare his actions with his words. Then we can render a judgment on whether he was right or not.

            I also know that Twitter has been silencing speech, not just worst speech that most of us would disagree with, but speech that a few folks at Twitter disagree with. Who is the arbiter of speech? Why does Parag Agrawal get to be the arbiter? Nobody can effectively monitor speech well or fairly; therefore, by default we should not monitor speech at all. Agrawal and Twitter were censoring speech they themselves disagreed with. They were creating an unlevel playing field. This is ultimately the problem.

            You folks deride billionaires and big corporations, but you line up squarely behind Agrawal’s version of Twitter (Agrawal had a nice golden parachute to leave Twitter. What’s he going to do with that windfall? You going to challenge him on how his money is used?) You imply Agrawal’s and Dorsey’s Twitter were altruistic and fairly used the rules to censor only the worst speech. Why do you like them better than Musk? They are ALL stinking rich. The opportunity for Twitter to favor the liberal narrative (and harm the other side) is too readily available to them and the benefit for doing so too great for them to pass up. Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc. have tremendous power. It should not be used to favor certain contemporary views to the exclusion of others. We can judge them not by their motivations, but by their words and actions which showed they were never about doing the right thing, never about being fair and gracious to opposing views.

            Musk, at least, will allow speech that he disagrees with in order to have a more complete conversation (so he says now). Otherwise, the conversation becomes an echo chamber and (as Musk also said) we have platforms only for the Right and others only for the Left. There is no debate, no real conversation, just echo chambers that never hear each other.

            If you are doing something criminal, then let take down your tweets. If you are saying something unpleasant, let your voice be heard and let the public shame you, mock you, and expose you. Let all sides be heard, so the best arguments can win.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Here’s a hypothetical for ya, would u listen to ppl telling u what to do with ur money? Doesn’t it matter if u have alot or a little, it’s what’s in ur heart that counts. I wouldn’t judge Elon too harshly, his contributions to society is quite significant.

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            • Great point. They wouldn’t stand to be told themselves, yet they want to spend this man’s billions.

              I am all behind Musk using his money to make Twitter more accessible to all. It is a worthy goal. Only someone with his wealth could do it and it desperately needed to be done. We all have a different role to play. We don’t all need to solve world hunger and ignore all other problems.

              Folks complain about the money when it is for a cause they don’t like. Otherwise, they don’t look at how Dorsey and Agrawal spend their wealth.

              Why do folks trust Agrawal and Dorsey but not Musk who says he will be more inclined towards free speech? Why be afraid of having your ideas exposed in a more open environment?

              Why does Jimmy Kimmel call Musk a piece of s—? Musk calls himself a progressive, just like Kimmel, but Musk is for free speech and that’s some sort of problem.

              Liked by 1 person

          • Fully agree, Ben. Nobody … NOBODY should have $44 billion to their name!!! People are going to bed hungry at night, and this jackass blows $44 billion to buy … what … a concept! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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            • It’s mad isn’t it? A 10% wealth tax on income over £1 million, combined with windfall taxes on big businesses, would not stop these people and companies from being wealthy, but would put a huge dent in poverty. As there’s no upside to the super rich, they won’t do it 😦

              Liked by 1 person

              • It IS mad! And the more I see of how the wealthy hoard and could care less about the rest of us, the more I lean toward socialism. Distribute the wealth equally among every single person on earth. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

                Liked by 1 person

    • You make some cogent points and some worthy statements.
      One I would take issue with, regrettably is:
      “People can determine for themselves what is sensible speech and what is not. .’
      Some people can. Others follow what is said to suit their prejudices.
      I regret after 70+ years on this planet, I personally have misgivings and am glad we are covered by Hate Crime legislation in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will agree certain individuals do not think for themselves, and will be easily swayed by deceptive arguments. But even still who are you or anyone to decide what those folks can hear or not hear? You control the discussion so that the less capable and most easily swayed are shielded from arguments, but you wind up controlling the discussion for all of us, those who can make those distinctions for ourselves.

        You might as well ban all political speech if that’s your view. I don’t know about the UK, but the overwhelming majority of political speech in the US is not truthful or enlightening in any way. The politicians we have today are as lousy a crop of leaders as we’ve ever had. Let them all speak anyway. Their ideas will eventually be discredited, maybe not as swiftly or as directly as you would like. For more than a year in 2020 and 2021, a large contingent of Americans got behind “defund the police”. Resounding defeats convinced the politicians to back away. . Now it is a mostly discredited notion that folks are pretending they never supported. This is how the debate works, messy but often the right result in the end.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Sorry for the delay in getting back, what with time differences and chores.
          Yes, I can see your point, of course. And this is one of the complexities which turn up in the debates and discussions about Democracy in all the countries which take this type of government seriously. Whenever the topic turns up my memory goes back to an American TV series ‘Slattery’s People’ shown on British TV back in 1966 (1964-65 in the US). These are the words, which still send shivers up my spine.
          One of the starker arguments for Democracy.

          And yet there are a vast number of paradoxes inherent in the maintenance and nurturing of democracy. How much leeway do we allow in free speech against how far do we go in making compromising to ensure the basic freedoms are not abused and removed by those with malevolent intent? And we can take that question one step further: how do we define malevolent intent? Is my concern about restraining ‘malevolent intent’ actually a malevolent itself? Or is that pragmatic realism born of histories?

          Maybe it’s the arguable observation that in terms of land area, population densities and a recorded history Europe has been the most fought over piece of land on this planet. Thus, maybe our folk memories have us inclined to adjust and make more compromises, and maybe those words are not the right ones. Maybe we are more sensitive to the possible threats and react in our own various ways for better for worse.

          Democracy? It never was, is or will be and easy thing to define, or maintain. One thing is certain there are always those who will seek to take it away. Some out of Intolerance and Violence, others out of the best of intentions, thinking the experiment has failed, and others out of carelessness. And there we are back again. How do we defend Democracy?

          What is true Democracy?

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Scrooges are alive and well, maybe the ghosts of Christmas past will visit them on Christmas Eve this year and scare the Bejaysus out of them so Christmas day will see some Geese delivered to the poor. Sorry for the Comedy but I don’t see much else working except a wealth tax and .Politcians, many of whom have wealth seem reluctant to do that.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Left this comment on Mr. Berwick’s post:

    I have been saying these same things in Canada, but probably so has everyone else who is not a Conservative/Republican/MAGAt.
    Just today I made a comment to the purpose mental health workers could use a huge boost in numbers, and availability, and that means a whole lotta money which is available in the coffers of the super-wealthy. They are the ones who bitch about all the mentally unhealthy people in the world except when they are busy using them for nefarious and violent purposes, while they are the ones who can do the most to help people with mental health issues.
    THAT is just one example of where the super-wealthy, or even just the wealthy, COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE. But they choose not to help with anything meaningful, because that means spending their money wisely. Or rather, it just means them spending their money at all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good response. As re the rich and mental health needs … the wealthy would rather, it seems, see those who have mental health issues locked away somewhere than to get them the help they need. They see them as something of a detriment, rather than human beings.

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  5. Pingback: Meerkats and Muskrats — Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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