Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz doesn’t like people using the term ‘billionaires’ to describe billionaires, instead, the multi-billionaire prefers the term ‘people of means.’
Speaking at a Barnes & Noble book event last week, Schultz responded to a question about whether billionaires have too much power in the US by focusing on the term ‘billionaire.’
“The moniker ‘billionaire’ now has become the catchphrase,” he said. “I would rephrase that and say that ‘people of means’ have been able to leverage their wealth and their interest in ways that are unfair, and I think that speaks to the inequality but it also speaks to the special interests that are paid for people of wealth and corporations who are looking for influence.”
🙏Thank you Howard Schultz for calling out the dehumanising label ‘billionaire’ applied to people merely for causing vast swaths of the world to live in absolute, crushing misery. I vow to do better 🙏 https://t.co/qFLqF46i2z
— Donald Rhodes (@djbrhodes) February 5, 2019
I fully agree calling people like Howard Schultz “billionaires” is poor phrasing. The proper term is “oligarch”
— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) February 5, 2019
Howard Shultz: I’m not a billionaire. I’m a person of means.
We shouldn’t be surprised. This is coming from a guy who personally has a problem with the terms small, medium and large. #HowardSchultz
— Society of Imperfect People (@LauraKatePalmer) February 5, 2019
While Schultz’s reflections on inequality and special interests rang true, people took issue with his concern over the use of the word billionaire and some suggested alternative words that could be applied.
I believe that “parasites” provides greater accuracy in describing billionaires, @HowardSchultz.
— Scap 🌹 left turn at Albuquerque (@scapelliti) February 5, 2019
I prefer “cash vampires.”
— AOC Dance Party (@aka_ajp) February 5, 2019
— ᴀᴜᴛᴀʀᴋᴇɴ (@autarken) February 5, 2019
Schultz, estimated to be worth $3.4 billion, went on to say that if he runs for president he “is not in bed with any party.” However, a billionaire being able to consider running for president as an independent without any experience could be seen as an example of “people of means” being able to “leverage their wealth” to get more power, as many social media users pointed out.
“All I want to do is walk in the shoes of the American people,” he added, inspiring social media users to suggest ways he could do that.
Every time Howard Schultz says something egregiously stupid or jaw-droppingly tone deaf, I feel we should up the percentage rate on the proposed progressive tax. https://t.co/jrzOTRuEY3
— Alice Venturi (@AliceVincit) February 5, 2019
if he didn’t want people to call him a billionaire he could have just paid his workers more
— just wrecked (@justewrecked) February 5, 2019
He left one part out: “All I’m trying to do is walk in the shoes of the American people” … and make sure I don’t pay higher taxes.
— Jim Ngo (@jimkngo) February 5, 2019
The mean wealth per adult in the US is $61,667. If he wants to walk in the shoes of the average American, he has to give away everything but $61,667.
— Eve Forster ❄️👩🏼🔬🧠 (@EveForster) February 5, 2019
If Schultz wants “to walk in the shoes of the American people” he should divest himself of his billions. Clearly they cloud his judgement.
— Laura Dill (@Perspectvz) February 5, 2019
Since he began flirting with the idea of a presidential run, Schultz has framed himself as an independent, and has spoken out about the Democrats’ concern for healthcare and taxing the rich as having a negative effect on the deficit. Obviously, it would also have a negative effect on his own billions.
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