Any billionaire can.

There’s a governor’s race in California and the Republican candidate is very rich. She’s had a maid for nine years who turns out to have been in the country illegally. The candidate fired the maid after deciding to run for governor, but she didn’t turn her in for deportation. The candidate does, however, support the deportation of illegal residents.

This reminds me of being laughed at by a rich friend of mine, years ago, for expressing concern for suffering people on the far side of the world. He just didn’t believe I really could care. But you see, I was poor, and it meant he didn’t care about me. It turns out, I guess, we only really care about people we know, individually, like the candidate’s maid. When we’re thinking about groups, we imagine we’d be best off if they simply didn’t exist.

There’s some pretty miraculous technology in the world today, and it’s getting better fast. Any billionaire can hire a lab and some scientists to manufacture a chipmunk that’s part tomato. Viruses are easy. We’ve got the techniques today to concoct easily transmissible, fatal human viruses, and to whip up their antidotes at the same time. Some billionaires are concerned how many people would need to be inoculated first, before a widespread release. After all, they want to preserve their fancy life styles afterward. So far, I guess, their loose affiliation has been dickering over the numbers. So far, no billionaire has gone ahead and just cleaned up the planet. But any billionaire can.

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