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Taylor Swift is a billionaire — let’s talk about that

| Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Anna Falk | The Observer

Taylor Swift is now a billionaire, and we welcome her to the exclusive club that also holds members such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. There was of course, hints of sarcasm in that opening sentence, but her introduction to the billionaire club is not fully an unwelcome one. If there have to be billionaires on this earth, then Taylor Swift is not the worst person to become one. And, in a world that mostly measures accomplishments by dollar bills, being a billionaire is a big deal for Swift.

The one thing that separates Swift from the other billionaires I mentioned previously is that she has not created an external product that people buy. Rather, she is the product. One aspect that I have always thought people do not mention enough is how business savvy Swift and her team have been throughout her whole career. For as much as Swift is a stellar songwriter who cares deeply for her fans, she and her team are also astute businesspeople who have capitalized on the opportunities presented to them. Kudos to them for doing so because, at least to me, Swift is no longer just a person but something more that everyone wants a part of — through her music, her performances and her products.

I do not think, however, that the correct response to her new status is to separate her from her other wealthy peers. When it was announced Swift became a billionaire, my Twitter feed (because I will never call it X) was filled with jokes along the lines of “I don’t like billionaires, but I like my billionaire.” While I respect the cognitive dissonance — and have my own fair share of it — I do think that it is important to remember that one billion is a gigantic number. Taylor Swift has more money than there were people in the United States in 2021 — three times over. That is a lot of money.

I respect the grind that got her to where she is today, but I do hope Swift goes on to use her money for good causes that touch more than just those around her. For example, over the summer, Swift gave each of the bus drivers on her tour a $100,000 bonus, and I love that. Those bus drivers put in a lot of work and I bet that money meant a lot to all of them. I also bet that the money was a business expense. I do not mean to completely undermine the action, but I also hope that she is pulling some money from her pockets to make a difference in the lives of those who have not worked for her. Donations to charity are tax deductible if she cares about that sort of thing.

The very concept of a person having a billion dollars is bigger than Swift. It’s also a concept that a lot of people feel strongly about. I know that Swift seems more than just a mere human at times (which I would wager is a consequence of literally being the product sold), but I hope that people remember her humanity and criticize it if necessary. This is not to say that I endorse people mindlessly hating on her or invading her privacy. Rather, it is that she should not be exempt from constructive conversations about topics such as the massive accumulation of wealth by the few. People talk about Swift in non-constructive ways all the time. Maybe this is the time to steer some of those endless conversations about who Swift is dating onto topics that impact all of us.

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