Billionaires Are Bigger Heroes to Your Kids Than You Think

Elon Musk is closer to their Iron Man than you would like.

Will Leitch

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Once your kids start to get into the third, fourth grade, it becomes increasingly clear how lame (and how old) they think everyone your age is. One’s jokes become Dad jokes super fast, is what I’m saying. The looks kids give adults once they hit 10, 11, 12 years old is a perpetual combination of eye-rolling and cockeyed shrug. Everything we do is stupid to them. (I’m not even necessarily sure they are wrong.)

Their heroes, then, are never old folks like us. They are kids, or at least as close to kids as they can find. Billie Eilish. Tom Holland. Zendaya. Justin Bieber, somehow, still. (Justin Bieber is now older than Kurt Cobain was when he died, so you know.) But when kids my sons’ age start talking about famous people they admire — or just, you know, think are awesome — it’s always a little unsettling how often one guy’s name comes up: Elon Musk.

Elon Musk is 50 years old — he’ll be 51 in June — which should him a lamestain old fart like the rest of us. But to kids? To kids, Musk is Iron Man. He’s the richest person they know, but he’s not old and crotchety, like traditional old rich people they might know of like Bill Gates or, for that matter, Donald Trump. Musk, perhaps because he works in technology, perhaps because he’s associated with something cool like outer space, perhaps because he’s always dating young people, perhaps because he Tweets constantly, somehow feels younger to young people. And thus he doesn’t seem to them like some soulless libertarian nightmare. He just seems like the perfect cartoonish persona of a rich guy.

I hear this constantly from kids. If there’s a problem, the person who can solve it is not Joe Biden, or Donald Trump, or even their teacher: It’s Elon Musk. “Why don’t you just have Elon Musk buy the team?” I heard one kid tell another at a Little League practice the other day. “We’ll get to play baseball on the moon!” There is no issue that cannot be solved by a billionaire coming in on his spaceship. This strikes me as regression, the idea that resolutions cannot be found in dedication to a common purpose, but instead only by the deus ex machina of a rich guy with a magic wand. “Billionaires” was not a term I’d even…

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Will Leitch

Author of six books, including “How Lucky” and "The Time Has Come." NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin. https://williamfleitch.substack.com