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Newsletter: Does Taylor Swift Deserve Her Billion Dollar Fortune?

Debate: Does Taylor Swift Deserve Her Billion Dollar Fortune?


Jessica Flanigan

Political Philosopher and Chair in Ethics and Democratic Values at the University of Richmond



Ingrid Robeyns

Chair in Ethics of Institutions at Utrecht University’s Ethics Institute; Author of “Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth”



John Donvan

Host and Moderator-in-Chief



This week:

  • New episode: Should anyone, including Taylor Swift, be a billionaire?
  • A closer look at her position on the Billboard charts
  • Coming soon: A potential TikTok ban
  • Your Sunday reading list



If anyone deserves to be a billionaire, it’s Taylor Swift. Her unparalleled talent and devoted fanbase catapulted her into this rarified club, as the Eras tour is currently the highest-grossing concert tour of all time and has boosted the global economy along the way:

  • $4.6 billion and rising is the amount her tours and sales have contributed to the U.S. economy;
  • $780 million is the estimated contribution to the Australian economy from her shows in Melbourne and Sydney;
  • $230 million is how much Taylor contributed to the Japanese economy for that leg of her tour.


Although Taylor achieved her current net worth (and her 14 Grammys) through hard work, determination, and the admiration of loyal fans, it still prompts us to consider a philosophical question: does anyone, even Taylor, deserve extreme wealth?  Some political philosophers consider every billionaire a policy failure.

Debating this timely question are two influential political philosophers. Jessica Flanigan, a self-declared Swiftie who wrote a paper defending the existence of billionaires (and is currently editing a philosophy book about Swift’s songs), and Ingrid Robeyns, author of the recently published book “Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth” — joined us for this spirited discussion.

Listen to this debate now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube. As always, let us know what you think.



The Numbers Behind A Cultural Phenomenon




Does Taylor Swift Deserve Her Billion Dollar Fortune?


YES: Jessica Flanigan

“If anyone deserves to be a billionaire, it would be Taylor. When people provide a profitable service — even if they’re personally not as agreeable and cool as Taylor — they’re providing a benefit to people and that profit is a sign that they’re engaged in an exchange that’s mutually beneficial with the people who they’re trading with… Taylor Swift is a billionaire because millions of Swifties have chosen to trade their own hard-earned income for the chance to listen to her music, see her on tour, or to participate in the general Taylor Swift experience that she’s providing for everybody. Because so many people currently benefit from Taylor’s songwriting, from her general creative genius, putting any kind of limits on that sort of creative production would be detrimental not just to people like Taylor Swift, but also to everybody.”


NO: Ingrid Robeyns

“Despite all the great accomplishments of Taylor Swift, she shouldn’t be a billionaire simply because nobody should be a billionaire. We should think about what kind of society we want. I would hope that we could move to a society where we reduce inequalities from the top down: this would enable fewer influence of the super-rich on the political system via lobbying and other mechanisms, but also it would free up money that we could use to create real equal opportunities for those that are currently the worst off. That’s the kind of society that I would like to argue for and in that society, there’s no place for billionaires.”



Up Next Week: The U.S. House Passes A Bill to Ban TikTok

You may have heard about what happened Wednesday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban TikTok if its parent company, Bytedance, does not divest from it within 165 days of passage. We will be covering this story next week — stay tuned.




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