While scrolling through Twitter this weekend, we saw a tweet from Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) that brought peoples' attention to a recent CNN Business headline. It reads, "2% of Elon Musk's wealth could solve world hunger, says director of UN food scarcity organisation." About a day later, on Halloween, Musk responded to the tweet, and eventually sent multiple replies.
As the story goes, United Nations World Food Program (WFP) director David Beasley shared with CNN that the world's richest folks could solve world hunger with just a fraction of their wealth, though most of these individuals have a large percentage of their wealth tied up in stock (unrealised gains). More specifically, the director said just 2% of Musk's net worth could actually "solve world hunger."
David's tweet was a "fact check" of sorts, and he pointed out that 2% of Musk's wealth is $6 billion. He also noted that the WFP raised $8.4 billion in 2020, though world hunger was not solved. In Musk's first reply, he said:
"If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it."
Musk has never shied away from helping people, though he doesn't always make a big deal of it. In fact, sometimes he provides support in "incognito mode." A few instances include his assistance with power outages in Puerto Rico, help with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and an attempt to help rescue boys trapped in a cave in Thailand. The latter backfired due to words exchanged between Musk and another rescuer.
At any rate, Musk seems very willing to help those in need, but he also knows that organisations may not be using funds in a way that's always the most helpful. In addition, it appears Musk is well aware that $6 billion is not going to completely solve world hunger. This doesn't mean he shouldn't help, but it does mean he has the right to expect transparency. Beasley responded:
The thread is long, and Musk responded at least one more time. He wants to know exactly how the money is spent, and he wants to public to know as well. And, it seems Musk isn't just talking about the potential $6 billion he'd offer, but current and future spending related to the organisation's work to "solve world hunger."
Clearly, we have no idea how this will play out. Will WFP provide the details Musk is looking for? Will it make it all public? If so, will Musk follow through, sell stock shares, and donate the money? Will the details reveal that money is well spent?
There are many unanswered questions here, and now it's just a waiting game. Perhaps the whole conversation will just be ignored and forgotten, though it's almost certain the media won't forget. However, we may see continued interaction, along with a donation from Musk. If the outspoken CEO does step up to help, it would be wise and fitting for other billionaires to do the same.
We'll be keeping our eyes on how this all plays out. If more information becomes available, we'll either update this article or publish a follow-up.