A few days ago, United Nations World Food Program (WFP) director David Beasley told CNN that a small group of ultra-wealthy individuals such as Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk could help solve world hunger with just a fraction of their net worth. Musk’s net worth currently stands at $311 billion thanks to a recent rally in TSLA stock, effectively making the CEO the world’s wealthiest individual today.
While speaking at CNN’s Connect the World with Becky Anderson, Beasley called for billionaires to “step up now, on a one-time basis.” He also noted that even just 2% of Musk’s current net worth could solve world hunger. This translates to roughly about $6 billion. “$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated,” the UN WFP director said.
Musk has now responded to Beasley’s statements. While responding to a post on Twitter which highlighted that the UN World Food Program actually raised $8.4 billion in 2020, Musk noted that if the WFP could explain exactly how $6 billion would solve world hunger, then he would be more than willing to sell some TSLA stock right now. This is a key point as most of Musk’s net worth is tied to his majority stake in Tesla. This means that for Musk to have $6 billion in cash, he’d have to sell TSLA stock, which would then be taxed.
Musk had a condition of sorts for the UN WFP director, however. In a follow-up post on Twitter, the Tesla CEO noted that the United Nations World Food Program must be open to open-source accounting. This way, the public could see exactly how the $6 billion would be spent and how the funds would effectively end world hunger.
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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2021
What is rather interesting with this situation was that the UN WFP director did not really elaborate if the $6 billion he quoted during the CNN interview could solve hunger permanently, or if the amount was only enough for a band-aid solution of sorts. In the grand scheme of things, after all, $6 billion seems quite small to solve an issue that has been so prevalent for a very long time.
Countries also spend far larger amounts on things like the military on a yearly basis. During the fiscal year 2020, the US spent a very substantial $725 billion on national defense. Beasley’s $6 billion estimate to solve world hunger would only be 0.8% of this budget. The United States is also spending a total of $13.3 billion to build the USS Ford, its most advanced aircraft carrier to date. If the UN WFP director’s estimate is accurate, then solving world hunger would be equivalent to about half the cost of one aircraft carrier in the US armed forces.