COLORADO SPRINGS — A state lawmaker from El Paso County found herself in hot water after taking to Twitter to disparage the five people who were killed after their deep-sea submersible reportedly imploded near the wreckage of the Titanic.
Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs took issue with five people who paid $250,000 each to explore the wreckage of the Titanic, which sunk on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people.
Vigil was upset they chose to spend their money on a submersible voyage rather than where she would like them to spend their wealth.
“You must really be running out of new good things that money can buy if you’re shooting yourself into space, or to the bottom of the ocean, or even just haphazardly acquiring companies that you don’t really have anything to contribute to,” one of Vigil’s Tweets read.
Those five people have now been confirmed dead after the coast guard discovered pieces of the vessel “The Titan” on the seabed just 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, 2 ½ miles below the surface. What remained of the vessel was found five days after it went missing from a trip offered by OceanGate Expeditions, which had completed similar trips successfully the past couple of years.
Search teams were still deployed looking for the vessel when Vigil took to Twitter to, complain about the money spent on the trip.
“No amount of wealth will ever satisfy the ultra-rich, but they just keep acquiring more, and then they’ll buy a $250K ticket to a watery grave in a world where that amount of money would be a life-saving windfall to the vast majority of other humans,” Vigil’s Tweet continued.
Vigil’s series of Tweets drew the ire of her followers.
“I’ll donate some money to a good cause!” one Tweeter responded. “If anyone can let me know who your challenger is in the next election, I’ll donate $100 to their campaign.”
“Rich people are far more likely to give to charity than lower incomes, around 90 percent, and when they do, they’re of course much larger amounts,” another Tweeter said.
Ari Armstrong, Complete Colorado columnist and longtime political activist shared Vigil’s Tweet with the comment that wealth is relative.
“Rep. Vigil is among the ‘ultra-wealth’ by global and historical standards and does all sorts of things that would be considered wild extravagances by most people who ever lived,” Tweeted Armstrong.
When contacted about his Tweet, Armstrong said he was making the point that while Vigil was comparing world GDP to the wealth of just those five men, even Vigil’s legislative salary at $44,000 a year is nearly four times that of the world average of $12,235.
“The rich are always the leaders on these things,” Armstrong said. “That is how technology is developed.”
In fact, the expedition the five men were on was not simply a sightseeing mission. OceanGate charges the quarter-million dollar fee to train those who go to help with annual data collection of the wreckage for scientific records that include marine life and the decay to the Titanic.
Training includes “submersible navigation and piloting, tracking and communications, and submersible maintenance and operations.”
“It helps to open up new industries,” Armstrong said about how the wealthy spend their money, pointing out examples such as the cell phones, electric cars and space travel. “Yeah, they could have given that $250,000 to the poor, but how much did (Vigil) make? I mean instead of buying a new television or going on vacation, (she) could be giving her money to the poor.”
Armstrong said if Vigil wants to play this game, then everyone in the US should be donating what they make over and above the poorest people of the world.
“It’s very easy for her to hold very rich people to the standard without thinking about her own level of wealth,” Armstrong said.
Some on Twitter blasted Vigil for her poor taste in attacking the men who, although they had not been found at the time of her Tweet, were presumed dead.
“These bodies aren’t even cold, I wonder if I can take a podium to justify my unrelenting urge to confiscate other peoples’ wealth,” one Tweeter wrote.
“What an utterly insensitive yet predictably leftist take on what quite possibly may be a tragedy,” another Tweeter posted.
Yet sympathy for the families involved appeared lost on Vigil who snapped back at her followers.
“You can say that you think it’s a great system and it should keep being this way without interruption … But you don’t have to belittle yourself and the rest of us by praising these folks like they’re superior beings,” Vigil Tweeted, calling the vast majority of respondents “trolls and haters.”
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