Elon Musk on Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset With His (and Warren Buffett’s) Wealth

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been named "2021 Person of the Year" by TIME magazine.

SNL Ratings Elon Musk
Elon Musk sparked renewed interest into Saturday Night Live. Will Heath/NBC

If you follow business, technology or celebrity news at all, you’ll hardly be surprised by TIME magazine’s nomination of Elon Musk as “2021 Person of the Year,” an annual recognition of the “person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year,” according to the publication.

Throughout 2021, we have seen the Tesla and SpaceX CEO dominating news headlines with the ongoings of both his work and personal life: SpaceX’s historic rocket launches, Tesla being valued at $1 trillion, putting a chip in a monkey’s brain with Neuralink, debuting on Saturday Night Live, the surprise breakup with Grimes, and, most memorably, surpassing Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person.

With a net worth of $300 billion, Musk is the wealthiest private citizen in history. As a result, in recent months he has been at the center of a debate over the “billionaire tax,” a tax on unrealized capital gains proposed by some Democratic lawmakers targeting the ultra-rich, especially those who pay little in income taxes.

Musk has made it clear that he doesn’t like the idea, despite having unloaded billions of dollars worth of his Tesla stock in recent weeks to pay tax dues (under current tax laws).

“A lot of the push for higher government involvements and expropriation of assets by the government is really pushed by a bunch of politicians who are saying that resources shouldn’t be in the control of private individuals—they should be in the control of the government. They are basically saying they want control of the assets,” Musk said in an interview with TIME from SpaceX’s “Starbase” site in Boca Chica, Texas.

The wealth gap in America today is wider than ever. But Musk said people shouldn’t get upset with the super-rich just because they are rich. “In terms of things I think people should perhaps get upset about…I think… excess consumption is a thing to get upset about, you know, somebody just wasting money on personal luxuries in a crazy way,” he said.

Musk certainly isn’t one of them. In May, he pledged on Twitter that he would own as little physical assets as possible to focus on bigger missions, such as flying people to Mars. Since then, he has sold all of his seven houses and lives in a tiny rental home near Starbase.

On the topic of billionaires who pay little tax but live frugally, Musk also mentioned Warren Buffett, whom he famously doesn’t like.

“I’m not Warren Buffett’s biggest fan, frankly,” Musk said in the TIME interview. “You know, he sits there and reads all these annual reports, which are super boring.”

“Does everyone want that job?” he added with a laughter. “I think most people don’t want that job. I don’t want that job. But he’s not engaged in insane, conspicuous consumption. So you have to say, ‘Sure, he’s got a high net worth, but he’s…doing a useful job for the economy, and he’s very skilled at it. So he should probably keep doing it.'” Elon Musk on Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset With His (and Warren Buffett’s) Wealth