Forget about space, Jeff Bezos – there are a lot of things you could do on Earth
Jeff Bezos seems to be running out of things to colonize here on Earth.
His company, Amazon, now orders nearly half of online retail purchases in the United States, according to one estimate. Amazon has acquired Whole Foods, a large grocery chain, and the central Hollywood studio MGM. Bezos also purchased The Washington Post and is now the richest person in the world.
So, with little to acquire on this planet, he turns to space.
Bezos announced Monday that he will join the first manned flight of Blue Origin, his space company, next month, with his brother. Media coverage quickly focused on the fact that Bezos to choke other male billionaires like Elon Musk and Richard Branson entering space first. But, from a moral standpoint, Bezos really should spend more time looking down than up.
According to the World Bank, 689 million people are living in extreme poverty, which is defined as less than $ 1.90 per day. Half of them are children. The coronavirus pandemic has demolished two decades of progress, pushing 120 million more people into extreme poverty – a number that is only expected increase by the end of the year.
With a valued net worth of $ 187 billion, there’s a lot Bezos could do to change that – especially considering how much time he’s now got in his hands since he was to resign of his role as CEO of Amazon.
For example, a donation of just $ 58 to a nonprofit like the International Rescue Committee – an organization that I support despite having a much lower net worth than Bezos, and I hope you too – can send a child in school for a whole year. Imagine what could be done with $ 1 billion – the amount Bezos once said it was invest every year in the development of its rocket. In fact, the Brookings Institution calculated that billionaires who are worth much less than Bezos alone could dramatically reduce poverty rates in their countries.
In the United States, a third of wealthy American households stepped up their charitable giving to organizations helping others meet their basic needs last year in recognition of the vast challenges posed by the pandemic, according to at Bank of America and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. One would have expected Bezos to focus more on the good he could do, given how much wealth he has enjoyed from the pandemic: Amazon has seen nearly 200% increase in profits as Americans shopped online during the pandemic.
With $ 187 billion, the reality is that Bezos doesn’t have to choose between helping others and starting his own space business. And he makes significant charitable contributions – notably, the biggest charitable contribution in 2020 came from Bezos, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy (a donation of $ 10 billion aimed to fight against climate change). But for Bezos, throwing his money so freely into the solar system is a bit of a sickening choice at a time of the world where people have been. dying of Covid in India due to lack of oxygen.
For a better model of what to do with your money, Bezos could look at his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott – who, along with her new husband, Dan Jewett, has sign the Giving Pledge, promising to donate the majority of their wealth. In 2020, Scott donated nearly $ 6 billion. Recently, she has focused on supporting historically black colleges and universities, proving that she has the ability to showing empathy with people whose experiences are different of hers.
Meanwhile, Bezos has made global headlines for the lavish lifestyle he enjoys with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, spending $ 255 million on luxury mansions in Los Angeles last year as the world was ravaged by a pandemic and invest in a new yacht estimated at around $ 500 million. But it’s not just about Bezos’ spending. Bezos is uniquely positioned to show leadership among billionaires and the very rich in what their money can do, especially in times of crisis that has spelled big profits for them – and his actions don’t seem to give any indication that he is considering wielding that power for the greater good in a way that it is obvious he could.
Bezos’ absence from the Giving Pledge is especially noteworthy given some of the problems his own business has inflicted. Amazon has of course been able to bring down the prices of many retailers as it is primarily an online retailer and therefore avoid the cost of the display cases. As a result, he was blamed for turning independent bookstore companies to big chains like Sears and JC Penney. out of business. And, despite making billions of dollars, Amazon paid no federal taxes in 2018, according to a 2019 Institute analysis on Taxation and economic policy (it paid off slightly more more than 1% of its profits in taxes in 2019). This year, the National Labor Relations Board also found that Amazon illegally retaliated against staff members who raised concerns about warehouse security. (The company said it had fired them for “repeated violation of internal policies” and not for having criticized working conditions.)
Of course, it’s not too late for Bezos to do better – and moving away from Amazon (as well as the planet) could give him a new perspective – literally – on what he can do on Earth with his. wealth and its new … found the time. He should strongly consider using his earnings to help the less fortunate (a message that also holds true for other billionaires looking to get on their own rides for space anytime soon).
Bezos is certainly an admirably successful businessman – so successful, in fact, that he can afford to go to space when others are hungry. But his latest achievement makes it clear that as of yet, he’s hardly a successful human being.