For some, the billionaire’s space trip has become a flashpoint in the debate over vast concentrations of wealth among a privileged few. According to an analysis by ProPublica, the 25 richest Americans were worth $1.1 trillion by the end of 2018, their wealth equivalent to that of 14.3 million American wage-earners.
With an estimated net worth of more than $200 billion, Bezos currently ranks as the richest person on the planet. Despite his large wealth, Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011, joining other wealthy men with small or nonexistent income tax bills including Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. Overall, the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax — an average of 15.8 percent of adjusted gross income — than many ordinary workers do, once you include taxes for Social Security and Medicare, according to the same ProPublica investigation.
sure flying to space is cool but have you ever tried paying income tax— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) July 20, 2021
Some, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, criticized Amazon’s treatment of its workers as well as its anti-union efforts. In April, Amazon defeated the biggest union push in the company’s history with Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama overwhelmingly voting against unionization.
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.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 20, 2021
And Amazon customers are paying for it with Amazon abusing their market power to hurt small business. https://t.co/7qMgpe8u0M
Jeff Bezos's space flight lasted 11 minutes. On average he has gotten $1.6 million richer every 11 minutes in the pandemic.— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) July 20, 2021
An Amazon warehouse employee could work 50 years and still wouldn't make $1.6 million. And they get no paid sick leave in a pandemic.
I know this space tourism is really exciting for some but I just keep thinking about how Jeff Bezos employees have to pee in water bottles because they don’t get bathroom breaks and where all this money could have gone for 7 minutes of an ego stroke. https://t.co/leBYADiHdT— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) July 20, 2021
Others celebrated the successful first human flight of New Shepard and the breakthrough moment for the space tourism sector.
Maria Elena Little Endara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.