On Monday, the Twitter board announced that they accepted Elon Musk’s bid to buy the platform for an astronomical $44 billion, and the news sent shockwaves through the social media community. Promising to make the platform “better than ever” with improvements like new features, increasing trust and getting rid of those annoying spam bots, the Tesla entrepreneur thinks his investment in the company is well spent.
But what if he took his fortune and did something else with it? There are plenty of causes Musk could take up in the U.S. that would not only benefit Americans for decades to come but would also make him a less controversial human being. Buying Twitter feels like a complete vanity project for the 50-year-old businessman, so it’s sometimes baffling that billionaires prefer to put their money into a corporation that has caused many online fights and mental health stress. Why not do something that benefits society at large and make him look like a hero at the same time?
We know it comes down to money and Musk’s potential to earn an even larger future from Twitter, but the money he invested could have been better spent elsewhere. Here are a few solid suggestions that would have a meaningful impact and even better headlines for the billionaire.
End World Hunger (Or At Least Make a Big Dent)
In October 2021, Elon Musk famously tweeted “If [the UN World Food Program] can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.” WFP responded, providing a detailed plan of how $6.6B could help prevent 42 million of our most vulnerable people from starving in 2022.
According to a 2020 study backed by the German government, ending world hunger for all by 2030 would cost an estimated $330 billion — though Musk’s current net worth of $268.2B (per Forbes) wouldn’t quite cover it in its entirety, it certainly wouldn’t be impossible for him and a handful of other billionaires to cover the cost.
End Homelessness in the US For Over 1 Year
While the figure “$20B” is often thrown around as the number the end homelessness in America for good, that figure is unfortunately outdated, pulled from a quote given by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development member Mark Johnston is 2012. Most experts agree that an important first step in solving this issue would be granting housing vouchers to all who are eligible: per Verify, one set of recent research suggests that would cost an additional $30B annually, while a 2015 Congressional Budget Office report estimated the cost at between $29B and $41B.
Erase $44B of Federal Student Loan Debt
The total cost of wiping out all federal student loan debt in the U.S. would cost over $1.7 trillion, a figure so damning that it almost eclipses Musk’s Twitter buy in the realm of financial decisions that boggle the mind. With the $44B he’s ready to spend on Twitter, Musk would only be able to erase 2.5% of existing federal student debt, which should make everyone exceptionally nervous about how big this problem really is.
Upgrade Clean Water Access Across the US
In April 2021, the Senate passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act authorizing over $35 billion to improve the country’s drinking and wastewater systems. With less than it cost to buy Twitter, Musk could have personally funded a much-needed improvement to so many Americans’ daily lives.
Get Early Childhood Education Back on Track
The pandemic wiped out a decade of progress when it comes to pre-school enrollment, thanks to the closing of many early childhood education centers and the burden placed on women trying to balance homeschooling and work during the quarantine period, per U.S. News.
An investment of $30 billion from Musk would start to put that system back on track for at least 18 months. Studies have shown that funding pre-K programs have long-term benefits, including “higher test scores, less grade retention, higher graduation rates, better earnings and lower levels of incarceration,” per Equitable Growth.
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