Bezos: "You Paid for This"
Billionaire's 11 minute space shot financed by low wage Amazon slaveforce
On Tuesday, June 20th, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the second billionaire in 10 days to head to space. In total, the launch and space flight took 11 minutes with just a few minutes of weightlessness in space. Considering that the price of one ticket on the maiden voyage was $28 million, Bezos essentially spent $2.5 million per minute in space.
When Bezos and the other crew members landed, the Amazon founder was mobbed by television cameras who had streamed and broadcast the launch live. Addressing the cameras at a press conference after the flight, Bezos said “I … want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this. So seriously, for every Amazon customer out there, and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart, very much. It’s very appreciated.”
The tone-deaf comments immediately angered many who noted that Amazon workers only make $15 an hour, that the company has a near 100% turnover rate, and that workers are routinely forced to pee in bottles in the back of their delivery trucks to meet the near inhuman delivery standards. At $15 an hour, it would take the average Amazon worker 5,114 years of working 40 hours a week to be able to afford the $28 million ticket to ride on a Blue Origins space flight.
In a tweet from Senator Bernie Sanders, he noted that while the billionaire has enough money to go to space, he does not pay federal taxes.
Am I supposed to be impressed that a billionaire went to space while he’s paid zero in federal income taxes some years and the workers at his company struggle to afford their medical bills, rent, and food for their kids? Nope. It’s time to invest in working people here on Earth. pic.twitter.com/F1NVBPu6TJ
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 21, 2021
This was a sentiment that was shared by Senator Elizabeth Warren who said he needs to take care of business here on Earth, not in space.
It's time for Jeff Bezos to take care of business right here on Earth and pay his fair share in taxes.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 20, 2021
AFL-CIO Communications Director Tim Schlittner also reminded people about Amazon and Jeff Bezos hatred of unions which included spending millions of dollars to stop an organizing campaign in Bessemer Alabama earlier this year. “Bezos is going into space while his workers pee in bottles because they're too afraid to take a break,” he said on The Rick Smith Show. “What went on in AL shows just how broken our Labor laws are; those workers never had a real chance to express their views on joining a union. The best "thank you" you can give your employees is to let them join a union, & that should be done down here on Earth, Jeff Bezos.”
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez also hit on this point by saying that the trip was paid for by union-busting, low wages, and a lack of benefits for workers.
Yes, Amazon workers did pay for this - with lower wages, union busting, a frenzied and inhumane workplace, and delivery drivers not having health insurance during a pandemic.
And Amazon customers are paying for it with Amazon abusing their market power to hurt small business. https://t.co/7qMgpe8u0M
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 20, 2021
During his press conference after the flight, Bezos attempted to refute the criticism of the cost of the flight with a $100 million donation that will be handed out to charities by CNN’s Van Jones and celebrity chef José Andrés. However, the donation pales in comparison to the one his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott made in June when she gave away $2.74 billion to charity.
Bezos was the second of three billionaires planning to go into space this year. Last week Virgin CEO Richard Branson took a flight that exceeded the US standard for space flight and Tesla CEO and noted union-buster Elon Musk is hoping to have commercial flights on Space-X that orbit the Earth running in the next few years. The three of them are reported to have made $260 billion during the pandemic.
While Bezos plans his next tourist trip to space, the company is facing dozens of labor violation cases and hundreds of OSHA complaints, many having to do with the actions of the company during the pandemic.