A billionaire’s trash is the lower class’ treasure

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Monica Alarcon-Najarro, Contributing Writer

Our society is built on overconsumption in societal trends such as fashion and smartphones, particularly Apple products. Apple has released a new iPhone annually, and due to their high demand, people fall for their gimmicks and end up buying a new phone regardless of whether their current one works or not.

Recently, Apple released the new iPhone 13 lineup which includes minor upgrades in camera quality and longer battery life. For me, it seems like a new iPhone each year is a bit excessive as most of the time the upgrades done are very minimal.

Yet, people seem to be addicted to getting a new model as they value minimal improvement and the status symbol a new iPhone brings. Corporations across the U.S. tend to thrive off of people who buy unnecessary items just for status in society.

For example, Kim Kardashian spent $200,000 on wrapping her Lamborghini Urus for a Skims Instagram PR stunt — which she most likely won’t even use — while some lower income households don’t have the means to even afford a car.

The large sums of money wealthy people waste on unnecessary things such as Kim Kardashian’s PR stunt could have been used to better the world like donating the money towards a philanthropic cause or bring awareness to important issues.

The idea that there are people in this world going hungry, without shelter and suffering when there are plenty of resources is bewildering to me. 

I can’t even wrap my head around the net worth of billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is $177 billion. That is completely outrageous for a single person to have. Bezos could easily end world hunger with the money he has or donate it, yet he can’t seem to do either of those things and thrives off of overworking and underpaying his Amazon workers.

With the amount of money these wealthy individuals have, they could solve the U.S. food insecurity crisis. The wealth gap is just adding another layer of inequality between the classes as the rich are wasting valuable resources that could be donated or given to lower-income households.

Sure, they were able to find success through fame and their companies, but there comes a point where the amount of money they can donate won’t break the bank, as they would either make it back or still have enough to live with their assets.

They could be changing lives, yet decide to selfishly focus on their own lives without helping others. I believe wealthy corporations and people should do more in donating their surplus to shelters and help out communities instead of wasting their money either throwing out surplus or buying unnecessary luxury items to boost their own egos.

To put it into perspective, in 2020, about 13.8 million U.S. households were food insecure, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Millions of people went to bed hungry and laid awake wondering where their next meal would come from. Millions of families suffered daily. Millions of parents felt the burden of not being able to feed their children and themselves. Millions of children went to school hungry and came home hungrier.

Meanwhile, Kardashian wasted $200,000 for some likes on Instagram. It is eternally disheartening to see people in the streets of Richmond — barely make it through the day — then turn to Instagram to see the rich flaunt their money.

I am fortunate enough to not have to worry about where my next meal will come from so I cannot begin to imagine the anger and sadness those in the poorer world must feel. However, I can completely sympathize with their frustration.

We live in a world that will always prioritize privilege over human rights. 

Instead of reallocating our resources to fit the needs of every single person on Earth, we are letting a select few fulfill their wants. It is called the 1% for a reason. Most of us are lucky if we can get by, while some people have a net worth that could single handedly end world hunger.

We need to realize that this constant drive for more is what will hinder us from equality. It is a disease that will eat away at our society until we have no more left. It is insane to think that this time next year, another iPhone will hit the stage. But, this time tomorrow, another person of color will sleep on the streets of Richmond; alone, cold and hungry.

So, whether it be food surplus, excessive iPhone productions or the 1%, wealth inequality will always continue to be a danger to our world.

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