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Friday, June 14, 2024

Taylor Swift Can Set a New Standard for America’s Ultra-Wealthy

The iconic celebrity is on the verge of attaining immense wealth, a moment that calls for reflection on how to align with the values and economic realities of her youthful fanbase on a grand scale.

At the age of 33, Taylor Swift is on her way to becoming the youngest self-made female billionaire in America, a rare feat among her fellow millennial moguls who have mainly ventured into meme stocks and cryptocurrencies.

The recent release of her Eras Tour concert film, with advance sales exceeding $100 million and expected to double in mere weeks, solidifies her tour as the highest-grossing concert series in history, poised to generate up to $4 billion from ticket sales alone.

Swift’s wealth, primarily amassed from low- and middle-income young Americans, comes with significant responsibility. Despite her immense marketing influence, which has notably contributed to boosting NFL viewership and the U.S. economy, her philanthropic endeavors have been relatively understated.

In an age when the term “billionaire” is often associated with divisive figures like Elon Musk, who have stirred controversy and exhibited minimal interest in directing their wealth towards societal betterment, there is a pressing need for a new model of extreme affluence in America.

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Swift may not be the sole artist-entrepreneur in the under-40 billionaire’s club, but she could be the first to boldly champion causes that align with the interests of her Gen Z and millennial fanbase, such as advocating for tax reform for the wealthiest Americans and addressing climate change.

While Swift has a track record of generosity, making numerous charitable contributions to alleviate medical bills, support cancer research, and contribute to food banks during her tours, her fanbase expects a more significant, ambitious commitment. Swift is uniquely positioned for this role not just because of her impact on capitalism but also her status as an industry trailblazer. She has challenged gender bias, advocated for artists’ rights, and transformed conventional album release models and fan engagement approaches.

Looking ahead, Swift has two pivotal opportunities. First, she can openly and proudly support President Joe Biden’s proposed tax on the ultra-rich, which aligns with the sensibilities and economic realities of her young fanbase. As over half of Gen Z and millennials hold unfavorable views of capitalism, many of Swift’s peers grapple with substantial student loan and credit card debt, despite their investments in her concerts and merchandise.

The effective tax rate on the ultra-wealthy has significantly decreased over the years, making a 25% minimum tax rate a modest request. Embracing Biden’s proposal aligns with Swift’s affinity for tradition and her progressive, patriotic image.

A more formidable challenge for Swift is addressing her substantial carbon footprint. Her private jet alone produced emissions nearly 2,000 times the global average and around 650 times the per-capita emissions in the US in the previous year. Her team’s explanation that she loaned her jet to friends is seen as evasive.

The Eras Tour has significantly exacerbated this carbon footprint, considering both Swift and her crew’s travel and the fans’ journeys to her events across 146 shows on five continents, accompanied by conspicuous consumption. This excess could lead to backlash once the tour concludes.

Swift, who understands the consequences of public backlash, can begin by providing a transparent analysis of the full carbon impact of her extensive Eras tour and detailing her efforts to mitigate it. Committing to carbon-neutral touring would entail more than just offsetting personal air travel; it would involve energy-efficient stadium lighting, sustainable food vendors, and restrictions on single-use plastics. Taking this step would be far less painful than enduring public criticism for inaction.

This would serve as the initial stride towards establishing new benchmarks for 21st-century American billionaires. It demonstrates that extraordinary personal success can have a broader positive impact, benefiting not only the individual but also the masses who have contributed to Swift’s wealth.

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