Death of a Parasite

Petr Kellner, the richest man in the Czech Republic, worth over 15 billion dollars, died yesterday. In a helicopter crash, in Alaska. My wife thinks I’m horrible for pointing out that this is no loss to anybody. She’s a more tolerant person than I am.
Of course, four other people died with him, and the deaths of the pilot and their local guides is a tragedy. But the death of Kellner himself (who, I admit I knew almost nothing about until today outside of the fact that he’s a billionaire) is nothing but a benefit. From all accounts, he gained his fortune by charging poor people excessive interest on emergency loans. He has ruined lives. He has caused suicides. I’ve seen only a few people commenting on his death. Some, just as a news item. “Hey, did you see this super rich guy just died in a helicopter crash?” and a couple of others, cataloguing his misdeeds. Nobody has any reason to love a billionaire.
When famous actors die, or musicians, or writers, or even athletes die, people mourn. We leave comments about how much they meant to us, how they entertained or even inspired us. How their lives were a bright spot in our own. And that’s true even if they did have some personal flaws. You’re not supposed to worry too much about that, after somebody is dead.
But, people who are only famous for being rich, that’s another matter.
There is the bitter envy factor, I suppose. I wonder how he was able to charter a helicopter to go skiing on a glacier in Alaska when most Czech people can’t even leave the country. Come down to it, it seems that wealthy and powerful people do tend to die in violent accidents, which might make some people a bit more sympathetic. Princess Diana, JFK Jr., Sonny Bono, Buddy Holly, James Dean. They have access to fast cars, private aircraft, and can go skiing in places that normal people don’t go. Sometimes, that’s fatal.
There is also the ‘trickle down’ factor. Of course, trickle down economics doesn’t really work, the money never trickles down all the way to people who actually need money, but this is a lot of money. All of his relatives will now be billionaires, and everybody in his corporate circle will move up a notch. They will mourn him publicly, but I’ll bet quite a few of them are already figuring out how they can take advantage of this.
And why not? It is, after all, exactly what he would have done.

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