Maxim: No Billionaire ever invented or cured anything.
Effect: Attention grabbing because it’s provocative and contrary to the dominant cultural message.
Purpose: To rebut the argument that billionaires are super important and need to be coddled lest they stop bestowing their benefits to society or lest they move to another country with all their money.
Substitutions: [extension] Even the inventors who became billionaires became useless.
Explained: Great inventions and advances in science typically come from people of modest backgrounds, working in a university or other scientific program, or at a relatively early age. To the extent monetary reward is their motivation (and it’s almost always only part of the motivation), it’s in the thousands up to a few million dollars they envision, not billions. Billionaires focus on their pleasure or on investing and owning. These latter activities do not require the existence of billionaires. Billionaires as a class create very little irreplaceable benefit to society. Their philanthropy is replaced by small donors when their wealth is redistributed.