Super-Rich Mine Science Fiction for Their Privileged Future in International Waters

Recently, Warren Buffet recently wrote in the New York Times here that we cannot we must not continue giving breaks to the wealthiest tier of super-rich Americans. The tax code gives those who make more than $1 million/year, especially in non-wage ways, greater breaks than many people who make far less, doing more ‘work.’ He concludes, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

I think I know what those super-rich who might not be ready to give up those big tax breaks have been up to: reading science fiction. Specifically, it seems that they have been burning the oil with utopian fantasies combined with Heinlein’s libertarian phase and a dash of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Picking up a story in Details magazine, Yahoo! News’ Liz Goodwin reports that, “Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters.” I don’t know Thiel’s finances or how much he pays in taxes, but I suspect that, as an avowed libertarian and an apparently accomplished chess player, he likely games the American tax system as best as he legally can. Looking at Thiel from a different perspective, he is emblematic of the problem that Buffett many other folks are worried about in terms of funding the American juggernaut. The super-rich enjoy the benefits of American prestige and power without paying their fair share of what it costs to run a country like the US. Now, Thiel wants to set off into international waters without so much as a by your leave. I can only hope that technopirates and their laser equipped shark friends pay them a fateful visit.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.


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