It was interesting to read this article in the FT about how the Ultra Rich in America (the top 0.1%) are happy to pay a bit more tax. It makes them almost human. Until you realise the amount of work a lot of the Ultras have put into thinking about the future. So much of that thinking is bloody scary and right out of the pages of a pulp dystopian sci-fi novel.
Hyperbole, I hear you shout. I wish it were. A few of the more terrifying things that the super rich are considering include:
- how to command the loyalty of security staff in the event of a societal disaster where money is rendered valueless;
- where to build or bury the survival bunker to ensure the best chance of survival- is it New Zealand or in a mountain in the Czech Republic?;
- Life extension therapies that seem just wacky;
- Building an entire space company with the aim of colonising Mars just in case the Earth is rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war; and
- uploading your consciousness into the cloud to attain immortality.
Some of these seem funny at first glance. But they’re not when you really begin to think about it. As a handful of billionaires said to Douglas Rushkoff:
“How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?” This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.
Now if that doesn’t scare you, I don’t what does.
Some of it is down to these ultra rich having everything they could possibly want, and more than they could ever spend, so it means little or nothing to them if they spunk obscene amounts up the wall on a worse case scenario. But some of it is equally these dudes thinking about what it going to happen and how they can protect themselves. From the John Cusack starring 2012, through to the bunker that The Kingsmen have to take out, there is plenty in popular culture that points to what these blokes are actually doing.