Bernie Sanders Says 'Focus on Earth' After Elon Musk Tweets About 'Multiplanetary' Life

Bernie Sanders has told Elon Musk humanity should focus on problems on Earth rather than spend resources on advancing space travel.

On Twitter, the U.S. Senator from Vermont pointed to an "obscene" level of wealth inequality in the country and said the tax system should be overhauled in order to give people more access to food and health care.

Sanders said on Sunday: "Space travel is an exciting idea, but right now we need to focus on Earth and create a progressive tax system so that children don't go hungry, people are not homeless, and all Americans have health care. The level of inequality in America is obscene and a threat to our democracy."

The tweet was in reply to Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO who had published a tweet defending his own position as one of the wealthiest people on the planet.

Musk wrote earlier that day: "I am accumulating resources to help make life multiplanetary and extend the light of consciousness to the stars."

Sanders, an independent politician whose progressive policy proposals gained him enough support to contest for the presidency in both 2016 and 2020, has made a series of Twitter posts over the last few days in which he has criticized how wealth is currently distributed in the U.S.

On March 18, he wrote: "We are in a moment in American history where two guys—Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos—own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of people in this country. That level of greed and inequality is not only immoral. It is unsustainable."

Currently, Musk is the world's second-richest person with a net worth of $170 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, tops the list with a net worth of $181 billion.

Musk has climbed up the list in recent months as stock prices in Tesla soared through 2020 but faltered at the start of this year. Musk owns over 20 percent of the company's stock according to Forbes, so his wealth is closely tied to how well it performs on the market. Tesla is currently worth more than $628 billion.

The entrepreneur also owns SpaceX, with which he plans to develop technology to put humans on other planets such as Mars. SpaceX is not yet publicly-traded.

Sanders has also hit out at stagnant pay growth for the average worker in the U.S. over the past few decades while wealth inequality has grown.

In 2018, the Pew Research Center said the real average wage in the U.S. had about the same purchasing power as it did 40 years ago after adjusting for inflation.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Tesla CEO is one of the richest people in Earth. Win McNamee/Getty