Billionaire YouTube personality MrBeast recently pulled a philanthropic stunt for his channel which is bringing stark attention to the dystopian healthcare system we’ve built for ourselves here in the U.S. The YouTuber, legal name Jimmy Donaldson, spent his own money to pay for cataract surgery for 1,000 people who couldn’t afford it on their own, reportedly giving many of them clear sight for the first time in their lives.
What might initially seem like a feel-good story turns bitter real quick when you realize that this surgery only takes 10 minutes, and the only thing barring all these people from having well-functioning eyeballs was the money. Nonprofit organization MyVision.org estimates that cataract surgery costs an average of $3,500 per eye, and Medicare only covers about 80 percent of the cost if it’s approved and, of course, only after you pay down that deductible.
The video, uploaded Sunday, features a small selection of these individuals with impaired eyesight as they prepare for and come out of the surgery, only to be surprised with further gifts from MrBeast including cars or tens of thousands in cash. The YouTuber has gained a reputation for courting views and popularity with his generous giveaways, with the millions of views to his videos feeding his business ventures and earning him partnerships with companies like Facebook and Snapchat.
The thing is, it shouldn’t be up to the whims of people with billion-dollar companies who were born into wealthy families to decide whether others should have access to a short and simple surgery which gives them access to one of the most important human senses.
“I watch this video and I’m filled with rage that we shut off access to a 10-minute procedure because we paywalled it and decided that only some people can get it,” said leftist streamer Hasan Piker. “It’s so insanely frustrating that it’s up to one YouTube guy to decide to make content out of it, that people who are too poor just can’t f—ing see.”
Even for people with health insurance, surgeries like this are often out of reach due to the eyes being apparently seen as “luxury organs,” as some have put it, in spite of the fact that the sense of sight is really handy for things like working and living in a capitalist society. While not being considered particularly leftist himself, even MrBeast touched on this point in a tweet.
“I don’t understand why curable blindness is a thing,” Donaldson wrote. “Why don’t governments step in and help? Even if you’re thinking purely from a financial standpoint it’s hard to see how they don’t roi [return on investment] on taxes from people being able to work again.”
Some fans were hopeful that this revelation from the YouTuber could mean he might come to support universal healthcare, while others echoed Piker’s anger that there are so many people who could see clearly right now if not for corporate greed. Certain individuals even pointed out that “philanthropy” like this only helps keep the system going because it keeps people hoping for miracles instead of fighting for a just healthcare system.