2021 EDITOR'S PICK
Relax, I’ll pay tax on Mars
Elon Musk is now so rich he could buy SA. His critics say the only thing bigger than his piggy bank is his ego
To celebrate our great content from the past year, Sunday Times Daily is republishing a selection of good reads from both our print and online platforms. Below is one of those pieces.
He brushed his teeth vigorously and climbed into his P-jays. Then he knelt at the side of his bed and clasped his hands together.
“Please God,” he whispered, “Help me save humanity.”
After a moment’s pause he added with sincere humility: “You’ve done your job, Sir, now it’s up to me.”
He would save humankind from extraterrestrial enemies and human crazies with his fantastical scheme to build cities on Mars. Elon Musk timeshare. Large numbers of intrepid settlers would travel on his spaceship to the distant colony, just like the Pilgrims who set off across the treacherous Atlantic waters to start a new life in Virginia.
This way if something terrible happened on Earth, human life would survive on the Red Planet.
Critics laughed at him, said he was barking mad, like a rabid dog baying at the moon. But he always clung on to the words of Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Like Robert Scott, the gallant British navy officer who succumbed to hunger, cold and exhaustion trying to be the first man to reach the South Pole, he had mighty obstacles to conquer.
People might die on this adventure into the unknown. There would be a trillion glitches to trip them up on the way. There would be no Marmite.
Since when did the megapowerful pay taxes? Did Napoleon pay taxes?
Yet now a yapping US president was messing with his plans by trying to make him and other billionaires pay taxes. Since when did the mega-powerful pay taxes? Did Louis XIV pay taxes? Did Cleopatra pay taxes? Did Napoleon pay taxes?
Donald Trump, who had a couple of pennies stashed away under the bed, only paid $750 in taxes during his first year in office — and he was president!
He let out a weary sigh. He was a visionary, so he’d seen this coming. First, there were hissy fits about the one-percenters, with jobless plebs waving rude placards at Wall Street brokers.
Now they were getting personal, treating him, Jeff, Bill and the others as if they were on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
He’d set the Biden hysterics straight with a tweet. He had much better things to spend his hard-earned cash on than giving it to the government. He’d tweeted: “My plan is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”
Who could argue with that? Take that Joe, and stick your planetary banalities where the sun seldom shines!
(Of all the species on Earth, humanity was the one worth saving, right? Besides, humans had a democratic right to screw up another planet.)
He didn’t want to boast, but on the list of the 10 Richest People on the Planet, he was now the emperor, the king, the Oberführer.
Let the critics jeer, but even the foulest leftie in congress had to admit he knew how to make money.
Just last week he’d become the first person in the history of mankind who could boast he was $300bn in the black after shares in his beloved Tesla shot up. Next to him other members of the Club of 10 looked like medieval lepers holding out begging bowls. (Being the richest person in the world was a scary trip in itself. His billions went up and down like a rollercoaster in the playground in a lunatic asylum.)
He had tens of billions more greenbacks than his great space rival and runner up in the wealth stakes, Jeff Bezos (worth: $195bn).
Nobody cares who gets the silver medal, Jeff, they only want to know about the gold!
After a brief sortie into space in July, “Johnny-come-lately” Jeff announced he wanted to send a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts into the galaxy. (Add a thousand Elon Musks, Jeff, and the future will shine bright.)
He sunk back into his pillow. He could spend $1m a year for 100,000 years and still have more money than Bill Gates (worth: $136bn).
He had three times as much in the bank as the Sage of Omaha.
He was more than 100 times richer than Trump and he’d never even had to stand for president. Yep, his piggy bank was bulging at the seams.
Yep, his piggy bank was bulging at the seams
He googled the latest World Bank GDP figures.
He could buy SA.
Those brawny Bryanston apes who taunted him at school had better be holding their balls in their jockstraps. They’d chucked cooldrink cans at him. They’d beaten him up so badly he’d ended up in hospital.
This nerd was ready to refuse them passports to outer space when the lava turned molten.
He reached for the globe perched on his bedside table (always keeping it real) and gave it a spin with his pinky.
He could buy 75 Eswatinis (the king had it permanently up for sale anyway).
He could buy 75 of the Maldives (mmm, that was more like it).
He could buy Greece and walk away with $100bn in change.
He gave the globe another spin.
He could buy almost half of Saudi Arabia (he was tempted to do that and shut down the oilfields, LOL).
He could buy 12 Libyas (maybe not).
He could buy seven Syrias (definitely not).
He soon grew bored and reached for his calculator instead.
The average price of a home in the US was $300,000. He could buy almost 1-million of them.
He could snap up Barcelona and all the other top 10 football clubs with $200bn to spare. (Anyway that was for pipsqueaks like Roman Abramovich, who thought yachts were the ultimate status symbol. Try a spaceship, R Vich!)
He could buy the 18 richest universities in the US, starting with Harvard and Stanford. (Well, maybe not Harvard. Both Gates and Mark Zuckerberg had dropped out, so that was a dud deal.)
He let out a snort of derision. And still the grey little dribblers and smartass politicians thought they could tell him what to do with his money.
Scavengers were always trying to pick away at his cash. The UN World Food Programme claimed 2% of his wealth could help solve world hunger.
Right. He’d asked his followers in a Twitter poll and they had spoken. He would sell 10% of his stock in Tesla and save the hungry. (Not a bad thing to have on the old CV.)
A large piggy bank under the bed meant you could never please everybody all the time. Now his critics accused him of showboating.
Some bleeding heart had tweeted: “He’ll write it off and pay $0 in taxes. He’ll be named Times Person of the Year as a great philanthropist while the average family pays a 14% tax rate.”
They called him the Duke of Weirdness. When he and girlfriend Grimes had named their kid X Æ A-12, or X for short, there were headlines and memes across the globe.
The kid would be teased at school, they’d said.
Come on guys, X doesn’t have to worry about being teased in class, he’ll buy the school with his pocket money!
Millions of disciples hung onto his every word, his every tweet. He was their sage, their deity. When he’d tweeted an ancient Chinese poem about beans his Twitter followers had gone into a frenzy. What did it mean? What was he saying?
Almost every American and hundreds of millions of people around the globe had tuned in to watch Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969. He was the Neil Armstrong of the future.
He was the Neil Armstrong of the future
Fifty years had passed and the space race was back. Billions would be watching him when he stepped onto Mars carrying grocery bags for the first interplanetary migrants.
He had it all figured out. It would take his Starship nine months each way to get to Mars and back. There would be 40 cabins for passengers. There would be common areas, storage space, a galley and a shelter where people could gather to shield from solar storms.
Who else was smart enough to preserve the light of consciousness?
He was humanity’s space cadet. Crack open the champagne.
God, would you like a glass?