This is an important discussion people mostly skip.

What is the worst thing a billionaire could do to you? Buy your employer and get you fired? Sue you for acting like garbage and breaking the law when trying to hurt others (like Thiel / Gawker)? How often do those things happen?

I know people say things like "pay for political advertisement", but while they are occasionally annoying, they are not devastatingly persuasive. I don't care that much about them.

Consider a low level EPA official, a local food safety inspector or liquor board member, a police officer, or a teacher. These are millions of people, together, and there are untold additional varieties of petty dictators in thousands of bureaucracies across the country.

The EPA official seems to have a surprising latitude to decide how to punish people. Now, if you run a business, you can tempt customers, by giving them a better deal. That's the whole point. People don't get punished – it's just that, if they don't have a good offer for their customers, they lose the customers. Businesses don't have an in-built right to a customer, it is the customer's decision. The nexus of control is within the customer, always.

You could make a similar argument about pollution, but it's clear to me the nexus of control is in the polluter. The analogy (saying people have no in-built rights to anything and need regulatory permission to do something) really doesn't work. Even if it did, consider: to sell below cost enough to capture a market, putting their competitors out of business, a business is (definitionally) losing money. And customers benefit. But regulatory agencies usually reward taking some type of action, so harming someone's business is actually worse than costless. And while sometimes the public benefits, the regulation typically benefits lawyers – for example, look at the structure of regulations Obama added to the coal industry. They polluted a lot, but the new rules didn't require they stopped. They just increased the paperwork burden until the companies went out of business.

Sounds like lawyers won big, and everyone else just got a preview of the extremely near future anyway. Heck, coal wasn't even replaced (largely) by solar, but by natural gas. It was going to happen, regulation or no, because other billionaires offered something better. But destroying someone just by adding costs? That level of power is impossible to buy with mere money.

A local food safety inspector can shut down a person's business even though plenty of people would want to eat there. Can you insist to me that all safety regulations are necessary? In Washington state, it seems clear to me that the rules require you to draw diagrams and file paperwork if you change your menu. Respond to a customer request for a variation? You could lose your livelihood. You could lose your favorite restaurant.

There's really impossible to do with money. No one can take your business away. Maybe they buy the building from someone you rent from? But most business leases are multiple years long, and you could always move somewhere close by. Maybe a billionaire could pay people to stand in line and then not order anything – I've never heard of such a tactic, but it's possible. That's probably illegal as harrassment, and there are other remedies besides that (like only taking orders online and doing pick-up in the building, so people have already paid).

It's clear to me that police officers can quite simply kill you and get away with it in many jurisdictions. Make all the OJ jokes you want, and I know some cases like Jeffery Epstein do exist. But that level of lawlessness is costly and sometimes impossible. Rich people are at least tried for murder, if they are clearly guilty.

And a single teacher with a grudge can, without being questioned, ruin the academic future of a student. They are frequently petty dictators who treat their jobs as crowd control more than education. And considering the quality of education public schools provide, perhaps they are largely correct. But I've seen public school teachers with grudges. They are immensely destructive to the potential of a child, and there is no recourse.

I have no idea how a billionaire could even attempt something like that. No clue. That power is outside of their grasp.

Sure, they can fund lawsuits when people break the law. So a billionaire's enemies are no longer above the law simply because no one cares. That's probably a good thing, when laws are largely just. And they can harrass people with vexacious lawsuits – and we should probably institute new rules about how the costs of those lawsuits are handled. But at the end of the day, billionaires don't matter that much at all, if they are spending selfishly. The law exists so that nothing you can buy with money is morally wrong to get. No paying for assassinations or anything. That's why we have law – to turn human activity to surplus. Everyone wins in voluntary market interactions. So let's just stop caring about rich people.