BILLIONAIRES RUNNING AMOK

Jeff Bezos Will Soon Become a Goddamned Trillionaire, and It’s All Thanks to VHS Tape Rewinders

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Okay, so here we are.

It’s the year 2020. Large parts of the world are under lockdown. Joblessness is higher than it’s been in ninety years. The future is uncertain. Some people are living hand to mouth and others are finding it difficult to pay for their basic needs.

And yet, according to Forbes, there are 2,095 billionaires in existence all across the world. Most of them live in either the United States or China, since bullshit tends to roll uphill toward the richest countries — but that’s beside the point.

Let’s get a head count

In 1985 there were a total of thirteen billionaires. Thirteen! That’s right, back in the mid-eighties all the billionaires could’ve literally crammed themselves into a van and taken a cross-country road trip. They never would’ve done that, but they could have.

But 2,095 is an outrageous number of ridiculously wealthy people. That’s a 16,015% increase in billionaires in the past thirty-five years!

No big deal, right? Those people are our betters, and they’ve obviously worked harder than everybody else. I mean, it must be a difficult task to be born with a few hundred million in the bank — or more likely banks — that you can never lose even if you try really, really hard. It’s also no walk in the park to influence governments and lawmakers to protect your wealth no matter how volatile your investments/assets/business practices may be.

Being a mogul ain’t easy. Plus, the plague isn’t their fault. So why don’t we leave the billionaires alone for now? Let’s pretend they don’t exist until the world fixes itself, at which point we can go straight back to being beholden to them.

Although, the second we do that, Jeff Bezos — whose company Amazon is one of the few ventures getting a boost in profits — is set to become the first TRILLIONAIRE by 2026.

A world jam-packed with billionaires lauding over those who struggle to make ends meet is already a bitter pill to swallow. And even those people rooting for billionaires still have to admit that 2,095 is a tad excessive. But a trillionaire is unheard of, right?

Even Microsoft Word — created by a company whose CEO was named The Richest Man in the World on numerous occasions — isn’t gelling with the idea of a single person possessing a trillion dollars. Take a look at this screenshot:

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Word doesn’t accept the spelling of trillionaire except when it’s capitalized. Why? Well, like any reasonable person, Microsoft isn’t ready for the dawn of the Trillionaire Age. However, if there had to be a trillionaire, Microsoft probably thought it was going to be Bill Gates. And so, the innovative minds at Word made Trillionaire a Kingly title with its capitalization as they secretly longed for the days of worshiping at the altar of their boss.

Nobody expected a bald, gruff, book salesman to take over the planet. It simply wasn’t feasible.

How did this happen?

In the cocaine and Tab cola-fueled days of the 1980s, we first learned, “Greed (for lack of a better word) is good.” Sure, there was supposed to be a “lesson” wrapped up in all of that, but what was so bad about making money off the back of others?

Anyway, in those times, despite the allure of money, there existed regulations and caps that set limits on even the most aggressive industrial sharks from becoming billionaires, let alone trillionaires. And for the majority of the decade, most of the world’s rich folk were content living within their multi-million dollar means.

Keep in mind, this was the eighties. The music was banal, the fashion rigid, the hair styles bordered on absurdity, and the idea of “excess” had not yet been defined. Rich people may’ve been wealthy, but they had no idea what to do with it. No matter how much money a person had, they were forced to settle for: wood-paneled, low-res televisions; boxy, standardized cars; one-room hotel suites; and cash bars that didn’t even have bottle service.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of times to be rich. This logically brings us to VHS tape rewinders.

Back then, home viewing of cinematic movies wasn’t commonplace. Buying a single movie on VHS cost between $80–100. Rental stores like Blockbuster Video first came into existence to help alleviate these costs. And on top of all that, VHS was really crappy technology. Self-proclaimed experts said rewinding a tape inside a personal VCR would destroy its integrity after as few as three rewinds. It wasn’t true, but people absolutely said that all the time [citation needed].

And since necessity is the mother of invention, VHS rewinders became a major status symbol. Here’s one that looks like a tiny car:

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How pathetic is this car-shaped rewinder? Don’t you feel bad for the rich person who used to own this? This is the type of gadgets or do-dad they used to show the world they were “kind of a big deal.” We’re talking a near-useless device designed to rewind bulky, soon-to-be-defunct tapes a little bit faster and safer. I dare you to find a better example of how low the bar of fiscal excess was back in the day.

So there you have it. This is why we have so many more billionaires today. It’s because there’s so much more “cool stuff.” Sure, some people may argue inflation. But that would be a hell of a lot of inflation in under forty years. And doesn’t VHS rewinder shame sound more plausible?

Oh, and if you’re interested in owning a VHS tape rewinder, you can still find them for sale… on Amazon.com.

An editor, writer, journalist, and foppish socialite obsessed with creating and helping others tell their best stories. Co-founder of www.writinglodge.com.

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