Amazon makes a lot of money. Jeff Bezos is the President and CEO of Amazon, therefore it stands to reason that Jeff Bezos also makes a lot of money. Still, it’s kind of jarring when you see the numbers themselves: Bezos is worth an estimated $131 billion. It’s an almost unfathomable amount of cash, and while it’s easy to argue to Bezos earned every penny, not everyone is happy about how he’s choosing to spend his vast fortune.
In a recent interview, Bezos explained that he’s dropping heaps and heaps of cash on his commercial spaceflight startup Blue Origin, and that the decision to use that money to get to space is pretty much a no-brainer. Not everyone agrees.
“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” Bezos said. “That is basically it.” The Amazon boss went on to say that he’s spending around $1 billion of his Amazon stock every year and funneling that cash straight into Blue Origin. He also said he plans to continue doing so for the foreseeable future, and that’s where he seems to have struck a nerve with lots and lots of people.
Many on social media are calling Bezos out for appearing ignorant to the plight of many of the people who he employs, suggesting that the money should go towards wages and benefits first:
If @JeffBezos gave each of his warehouse workers $100,000, he would have $122 billion.
— Cody Johnston (@drmistercody) May 1, 2018
Jeff Bezos has employees who have to get food stamps to survive after working full-time and urinating in water bottles because they're scared to miss their efficiency targets.
But your boy here will take up for Bezos so long as he can use it to attack Sanders. https://t.co/b3iQHfAVce
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 1, 2018
Meanwhile, others point to charities and public crisis issues that could benefit in a big way from a small fraction of the money being spent on Blue Origin:
Hey @JeffBezos the person who may discover rapid space travel is wading in fetid water without electricity in #PuertoRico right now or starving in an unheated school in Baltimore… Maybe throw a few billion at that those issues 1st #JeffBezos https://t.co/vLMtXeacSq
— Your Haploid Heart (@IngSocBob) May 2, 2018
People telling extremely rich individuals how to spend their money is nothing new, but Bezos hasn’t done himself any favors in this regard either. Last year, the billionaire took to Twitter to ask his followers what he should do with his money if he wants to be a philanthropist. His plea for ideas was confusing and upsetting for many simply because Bezos already has the resources at his disposal to be able to identify countless public health issues and act on them rapidly.
Now, months after asking for philanthropy suggestions, he says that going to space is “the only way that [he] can see” to spend his incredible fortune. For many, that feels like a slap in the face.