Elon Musk’s ability to move markets and world organizations with a tweet has, at this point, become legendary.
On Oct. 31, the Tesla ( (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report) and SpaceX entrepreneur challenged the World Food Programme’s claim that 2% of Musk’s wealth — or roughly $6 billion — could solve world hunger definitively.
Going one step further, he vowed to sell all his Tesla stock if proven wrong and started selling a portion of the 170 million shares he owned in the following weeks.
On Monday, UN food program director David Beasley responded with a link to a 1,000-word summary outlining how $6.6 billion could provide meals to more than 40 million people across 43 countries facing famine.
“This hunger crisis is urgent, unprecedented, AND avoidable,” Beasley wrote in a tweet tagging Musk.
The back-and-forth was closely followed by Twitter users weighing in on whether billionaires like Musk should be doing more to help solve world hunger.
Popular self-help coach Tony Robbins wrote that, instead of vague claims of how millionaires can step in, people everywhere should see global suffering is “all of our responsibility”
But, as many others pointed out, those with a net worth in the hundreds of billions have a much bigger responsibility to help solve global problems. That is because astronomical wealth is often connected to labor or materials in the countries that are now facing these crises.
The conversation evolved into how billionaires are taxed and how Musk’s reactive dropping of Tesla ( (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report) shares indicates that he could easily part with the money necessary to solve global problems when motivated or trying to prove something.
“We live in a world where you can lose $50 billion in wealth in two days, and still have $83 billion more than the 2nd richest person in the world,” California House of Representatives member Ro Khanna wrote on his Twitter account. “We need a wealth tax.”
Even “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” actress Charisma Carpenter wrote that the money Musk puts toward space tourism and exploration could go toward the much less glitzy problem of world hunger.
“Rather than hiring teams of brilliant minds to play rocket man, why not hire teams of brilliant minds to find a way to end world hunger … yourself?” Carpenter wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
But perhaps the squabbling over just how many billions are necessary to pull people out of starvation has eventually started to annoy many on Twitter.
“You know, Elon Musk, 5 billion may not cure world hunger but it sure as hell would help!” Florence Eaise wrote on Twitter.