ICYMI: Last week on Twitter, two esteemed leaders of politics and finance had a respectful and meaningful debate on American tax policy and its influence on we the people.
Here's what really happened: Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden got in a public tiff with perennial edgelord Elon Musk over a proposal to get the country’s 700 or so unfathomably wealthy billionaires to actually pay their fair share of taxes for once.
Wyden has been working with a group of Democrats on the so-called billionaire tax, which sounds like exactly what you might think it is (specifically, the idea is for billionaires to pay taxes when stocks go up, even if they don’t sell shares, a concept called “unrealized gains.”)
In response, Musk, the founder of both Tesla and SpaceX, did what he does best: mash together the attention economy and the actual economy for his own personal gain. Big Tech's favorite frat brother took to Twitter with a poll.
Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2021
Do you support this?
Three and a half million votes later, 58 percent of random social media onlookers decided that this was indeed a sound business decision, and on Friday Musk followed through, selling an estimated $6.9 billion in combined shares and causing Tesla’s market value to dip below $1 trillion.
When Sen. Wyden suggested that, perhaps, this is not the best way to determine whether or not one of the world’s richest people pays taxes, Musk responded with a comeback so cringeworthy that it seemed more like a joke that made it to the cutting room floor of Family Guy’s writers' room than something one might say to the august head of the Senate Finance Committee.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2021
Wyden, presumably doing something else with his time besides stirring up Twitter beef, did not reply.
Then, over the weekend, in a Shakespearean twist of generational strife, Wyden’s own son, Miami-based hedge fund millionaire Adam Wyden, decided to get in on this esteemed meeting of the minds in support of Musk.
“Why does he hate us / the American dream so much?!?!?!?” the son Wyden cried into the ether, demonstrating an exceptional willingness to both creatively use punctuation and resist critical thinking. “Reality is: most legislators have never built anything... so I guess it’s easier to mindlessly and haphazardly try to tear stuff down.”
Well, nothing screams old fashioned American bootstrapping like inheriting wealth from an apartheid-era Zambian emerald mine and using it to profiteer off of impending climate catastrophe, right?