With 24 new billionaires being made in the UK during the pandemic, the ranks of the superrich are growing year by year. These tycoons, often the founders of businesses we all know and love, live solely to collect income.
You have undoubtedly heard of Jeff Bezos, the 57-year-old from New Mexico, USA and the founder and executive chairman of the multinational giant, Amazon. Bezos’ net worth is $177 billion dollars. With more income collected every day, the billionaire is $2,537 richer by the second. What started out as a modest bookseller, has since morphed into arguably the largest retailer in the world.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, ordinary people like you and me were sadly forced to stay at home. As a result of this, Bezos earned. Amazon sales skyrocketed nearly 200%, meeting the demand of online shopping as we were all confined to our quarters. Global lockdowns were hard for millions of people; the pandemic pushed as many as 150 million people globally into extreme poverty. Despite this, Bezos’ empire grew.
Becoming a billionaire creates many opportunities to make a difference in this world. Bezos has more than enough money to make the lives of ordinary people better. According to a study from the International Food Policy Research Institute, it could cost as little as $7 billion to end world hunger for a year. That is less than 4% of Bezos’ net worth: a crazy statistic.
Unfortunately, Bezos has been finding other ways to spend his earnings. Bezos invested $42 million dollars on a ‘10,000-year clock’, which is currently being built by the Long Now Foundation. It will be 500 feet tall and will be constructed inside a mountain that Bezos owns in the Sierra Diablo region of Texas. The clock will tick once a year. Once.
He also spent $3.1 million dollars on a 10-acre lot in Medina, Washington, which consists of two homes, each with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. Ironically, fellow billionaire Bill Gates lives next door.
You may have heard in the media that Bezos has also found another unusual way to spend his money; the billionaire has fulfilled his dream of space travel. As the founder of aerospace company Blue Origin, Bezos developed the Blue Origin suborbital capsule, which was blasted into space carrying an ultrarich crew including Star Trek actor William Shatner. That’s right, with the huge responsibility Bezos possesses with his great wealth, he chooses to shoot a 90-year-old man into orbit free of charge.
Despite the actions of those who throw their wealth around, humanity has been restored in the form of Prince William. He recently said that billionaires like Bezos should be using their wealth to contribute to saving the declining conditions of the Earth, instead of the ‘space race’.
Whilst Bezos makes William Shatner’s dreams come true, Amazon employees are working for a company where their hard work funds greedy vanity projects. The money that Bezos pointlessly spends could be put towards improving the abysmal working conditions of Amazon warehouse employees which, as stated in a report from Forbes, include excessive productivity goals of 300 items an hour, too few (and too strictly timed) bathroom breaks and workplace injury rates that are three times the national average.
Shatner’s journey into space left him in tears, exclaiming to Bezos: ‘What you have given me is the most profound experience. Everyone in the world needs to do this’. The launch of Bezos’ rocket contributed to climate change due, as researchers Martin Ross and James Vedda explain in a 2018 report, to rocket emissions triggering chemical reactions that deplete the ozone layer. Should everyone in the world damage the Earth for the sake of a brief joyride among the stars, Shatner?
Considering that a new report has claimed that Bezos and the world’s wealthiest 1% are ‘to blame for more carbon emissions than half the planet combined’, we need to manage this type of thoughtless behaviour. The actions of billionaires are killing the environment, and this will only accelerate as multinational corporations continue grow.
Will you think about this next time you click to purchase your next Amazon order? Every penny that we spend on that website will continue to fund Bezos’ billionaire status. Is this what you want? It’s been proven time and time again that we can’t expect billionaires to behave responsibly, so it’s time for the 99% to take a stand against the 1% before they destroy this world for us all.