Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has made headlines for telling humanity that colonizing faraway planets in the best hope for saving humanity. But if we can't save ourselves here, what's the point? (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

No, Stephen Hawking. Let's Save This Planet Instead of Looking for Another

Giving up on planet Earth is a cruel and destructive form of defeatism

David Macaray

Back in the 1970s, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist named William Shockley created quite a stir when he suggested that certain races (i.e., black people) were “genetically inferior” to whites and Asians, and that in order for the human race to have any chance of “improving” itself, people with IQs lower than 100 should submit to voluntary sterilization.  Other than that, nothing he said was particularly controversial.

 What made Shockley’s pronouncements so outrageous, besides their obvious inflammatory nature, was their source.  After all, this wasn’t some hack, ex-Navy science fiction writer like L. Ron Hubbard introducing a new, screwball religion (“Scientology”) to the masses.  This was a brilliant scientist talking.  Shockley won the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics, and now he was going on record with a profoundly radical and transformative theory.

"Just because Hawking is a genius doesn’t mean everything he says is smart."

Of course, what followed was predictable.  His fellow scientists pointed out that, while Shockley may have been a “genius” when it came to semiconductors and transistors, he was woefully unprepared and unqualified to speak on the topic of genetics.  Indeed, he was so far out of his element, his so-called “findings” were embarrassing.  Which brings us to Stephen Hawking, the world’s favorite theoretical physicist.

Fearing that the Earth will one day be destroyed by a colliding asteroid, or by widespread epidemics, or by over-population, or the cumulative effects of climate change, Hawking was recently quoted as saying, “I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.”  Moreover, he insists that we must do it—must accomplish our evacuation—within the next 100 years.

There are at least two problems with this nutty advice.  (1)  Hawking is talking about stuff he’s not qualified to talk about—stuff that would cause a “lesser mortal” to be laughed off the podium, and (2) by trying to convince the people of Earth that future life on our planet is not worth investing in, he is guilty of the cruelest and most destructive form of defeatism.

When Hawking talks about black holes, or time-travel, or multiple universes, his remarks, while unproven and basically unprovable, are intriguing and fascinating.  For one thing, very few people are “smart” enough to dare refute what he says, and for another, all that far-out stuff about worm-holes and six dimensions that Hawking is spouting is very cool—way cooler than garden variety terrestrial science. 

"It goes without saying that the rich and well-connected will be the first to jump ship, and the poorest and most desolate among us will be condemned to stay."

But just because Hawking is a genius doesn’t mean everything he says is smart.  We don’t automatically listen to a gifted shoemaker talk about making gloves, do we?  Consider:  What if Hawking argued that the National League should copy the American League and go to the Designated Hitter (DH) rule?  Would baseball purists abandon their opposition to the DH simply because a “genius” told them they should do so?   

But what Hawking seems to be suggesting is no less bizarre.  Instead of focusing our resources on saving and protecting Earth, Hawking wants us to abandon it.  Really, Stephen?  You honestly think that pulling up stakes is going to improve morale?  Surely, he has to know that you can’t do both—that you can’t commit yourself totally to saving the planet while simultaneously putting your resources into finding a new one.

Also, who’s going to break the news to Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, et al?  Who’s going to tell them that, after giving the matter careful thought, we’ve decided to move to a better neighborhood, all because some weirdo physicist has convinced us it was time to leave. 

And of course, it goes without saying that the rich and well-connected will be the first to jump ship, and the poorest and most desolate among us will be condemned to stay.  Donald Trump has his own word for those unfortunate individuals who won’t be allowed to make the trip.  He calls them “losers.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo