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Elon Musk finds ‘billionaire’ tag offensive

By: - Content Strategist
/ 12:46 PM July 12, 2018

Image: AFP/ Brendan Smialowski

The news of a youth football team and their coach who got stranded inside a flooded cave in Thailand seemed to have caught the attention of the entire world lately, as people from all over gathered together to help save the young boys.

Apart from the international rescue divers and the Thai Navy SEAL divers who made their way inside the labyrinthine cave to get the boys out, billionaire Elon Musk also tried to extend his help.

Musk recently went to Thailand with a kid-size submarine, which he offered for use of the rescuing divers. The submarine was assembled by a nine-person engineering team that was assigned by Musk. But despite all his team’s efforts, his submarine turned out to be impractical for the rescue.

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 “Although his technology is good and sophisticated, it’s not practical for this mission,” Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command center coordinating the rescue effort, was quoted as saying in a report by The Guardian last July 10.

Meanwhile, Musk’s good intentions were met with mixed reactions from netizens. Some called his move a formulaic publicity stunt, while others came to his defense.

A certain Blake Kistler, a student at the Arizona State University, stood by Musk. 

He wrote, “I wonder how often Elon would rather be a physics engineer, or lead technical designer instead of having to carry the label of billionaire. Regardless of whether or not the capsule ended up being feasible, the man sprung into action to help people he’s never met.”

This was countered, however, by another netizen. 

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“He assigned his workers an insane deadline for an impractical project,” said the netizen (@steel_wool__). “That was basically a publicity stunt to attempt to buy him points with humanitarians rite [sic].” 

Musk took the time to reply to the original tweet of Blake, and said the label “billionaire” is used by the media to be disparaging.

“Ironically, the ‘billionaire’ label when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue & denigrate the subject,” wrote Musk. “I wasn’t called that until my companies got to a certain size, but reality is that I still do the same science & engineering as before. Just the scale has changed.”

Despite his attempt at a defense, however, some seemed to be irked by Musk’s remark.

Feminist and award-winning American writer Roxane Gay (@rgay) replied to Musk’s tweet and said, “And also you have billions of dollars. Thus, billionaire.”

“You literally are a billionaire,” a certain Erin (@eehouls) wrote back. “Literally. It is not ironic in any way. You weren’t called a billionaire until you were… a billionaire. If you think it’s a negative label, maybe it’s because it means that you’re hoarding money and resources from the rest of the world.”

Musk, however, didn’t stand for their remarks. 

“No, it means I created jobs for 50,000 people directly,” Musk fired back, seemingly defensive. “And, through parts suppliers & supporting professions, ~250,000 people indirectly, thus supporting half a million families. What have you done?”

Nevertheless, Musk still decided to leave his kid-size submarine in Thailand in the hopes that, although it wasn’t used for the cave rescue, it may still serve its purpose one day. 

“Mini-sub is ready if needed,” wrote Musk. “It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful.”  /ra

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TAGS: billionaire, cave rescue, Elon Musk, submarine, Thailand, white male privilege
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