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Bezos’ remark on Amazon prompts backlash over his vast wealth (nytimes.com)
34 points by kergonath 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments

> … said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon. “We pay taxes on plane tickets. Billionaires flying into space — producing no scientific value — should do the same, and then some!”

That was a stupid thing to say. This is the start of the commodification of manned space travel. The more we do it, the better we get at it, the more we learn about it. That’s scientifically valuable. But it’s not free, and getting the costs down is an important enabling factor.

Just like it was the case with planes and even cars at the beginning, they once were a toy for only the rich.

To be fair, when the first powered flight and first cars were being driven… the US had no income tax.

To me, that says all these events happened too long ago to be easily comparable to the situation today.

> The more we do it, the better we get at it, the more we learn about it. That’s scientifically valuable.

Can you elaborate on that?

Going into orbit, docking to a space station, and de-orbiting is already well understood. If it is about the amount of time it takes to so these activities, that is mostly due to safety or physics.

“This is a moment of American exceptionalism,” - Jen Psaki, is she critisizing him or praising him? I find that statement extremely clever.

Well consider the administration is asking big tech to censor misinformation I assume they’re pretty buddy-buddy now.

Biden signed an anti-monopoly executive order.


The democrats are also trying to pass anti-monopoly legislation.

Is it really useful information if it is not true? For example if I say "Refurb is a pedo." And you request HN to delete the comment because you are not - is that censorship?

Yes,by definition it is, but censorship isn't illegal. The issue is that there are concerns that it's being done on behalf of the US government, which may violate the 1st Amendment.

You mean like the lab leak hypothesis that everyone said was untrue but now thinks might be true?

I don't get what the big deal is.

That's an entirely appropriate set of people to thank.

I think that it comes off as condescending and possibly insincere.

It's like a king thanking the peasants for their sacrifice so the king can live so comfortably.

It is literally true and Bezos knows it, so he probably is quite sincere.

That's exactly what it is, but it's accurate.

The peasants have no choice in the matter.

It's best to think of Bezos as a hyperintelligent alien who occasionally takes a tangential interest in human affairs. Here, he is bestowing praise upon the units which permitted his ascent back to the stars. That has the effect of producing more money to do more engineering to go farther. Eventually he will return to his planet.

It’s best to think of him as a nerdy twat who hit big on one of his ideas and proceeded to get way too much money. Every time I’ve heard him say anything he came across as a pompous and condescending sociopath.

A perfect metaphor for our times.

I guess the sentiment is that some people believe it'd have been better if he'd paid his employees better, rather than join the existing group of companies on a venture that doesn't show obvious benefits for the current world (aside from R&D, which might be tricky to explain the joys of to a delivery driver stressed from their 9-9 job). The bit that stings is that he could have done both and still been the richest man in the world.

But that applies to everything.

It's the same argument as "how dare you keep a bank balance while people are starving in the world?".

You have no obligation to spend your own money based on other people's preference, and if you do then you'd better keep yourself to that standard. Some do, but extremely few.

You could probably give more money to GiveWell than you do, and save lives, and still live your lifestyle. But you don't.

It's a difference in degree, but not in kind.

It is a difference in both kind and degree.

In kind: my income is not the direct result of creating the conditions that cause others to rely on GiveWell.

In degree: sometimes the degree matters, and Bezos is a prime example of that[0]. If I give up 1% of my accumulated wealth to alleviate $1000 of suffering, that helps a small number of people and affects my lifestyle not terribly much. If Jeff Bezos gives up the same percentage of his accumulated wealth, that helps many, many, many more people and affects his lifestyle even less. The degree absolutely matters.

Among the people that could be helped dramatically would be Amazon warehouse employees.

0. https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/

I disagree. It may not be as direct, but if you're on HN then your lifestyle is likely supported off of the back of poor exploited people.

Sure, it's not your fault that Foxconn employees jump off buildings, but it is why you have your lifestyle. (that's meant to be illustrative, not literal. Hence overly specific to Foxconn)

Sure, it's not in the same way through your direct choices, but like Bezos you are playing the game, and choosing not to reward those supporting your lifestyle.

But more importantly here Bezos is choosing this, as opposed to buying some more and bigger private islands. Yet he's being criticised for this more than if I had.

> If Jeff Bezos gives up the same percentage of his accumulated wealth, that helps many, many, many more people and affects his lifestyle even less.

As someone else wisely pointed out: Bezos has already helped people more than you have. That's how he got his money.

People telling him he "should" give away most or all are ignoring that he earned his vast wealth by creating orders of magnitude larger wealth in the world, and taking a cut for providing what wealth.

Yes, Amazon has done some pretty shady stuff (see book "The Everything Store", for example), but Amazon got big from providing value to people.

That said, no I don't think there should be decabillionaires at all. Nobody can "earn" that much. Nobody is truly that irreplaceable. But given that he is that rich, this spending isn't the unfairness you're looking for.

Exactly. If he didn't thank them, he would have been in headlines for not thanking them. Same shitty people attacking over anything. Lots of times and reasons to attack Bezos. This is not one of them.

I’m pretty sure you’re seeing that completely wrong. But even if you’re not, a good part of the criticism is due to the way he said it. There is a huge difference between thanking a group of people in some non-descript way, and saying “you paid for it” when many Amazon warehouse workers are working in hard circumstance for as little as Amazon can get away with. This workers would probably prefer some of those billions that paid for this self aggrandizing stunt to be used on something else.

Sounds like an Onion headline lol.

This submission title could be better.

It’s the title of the article (well, at least it was at the time of submission), minus the last clause because it was too long otherwise.

The current headline is “Bezos thanks Amazon workers and customers for his vast wealth, prompting backlash”, FWIW.

All I can hear is Bo Burnham singing.

Don't mention it.

Without paywall/registerwall: https://archive.ph/Lzfwc

This is the most social media click crazed article I’ve ever seen.

He never thanked them for his wealth, he basically said “because Amazon was so successful, we could use that money to fund Blue Origin”.

But nobody would click on that title so NYTimes comes up with “vast wealth” headline.

Has mainstream journalism come to this?

Who cares about space? It's one of those things politicians trot out that captures the imagination of the masses.

We have serious problems here on earth, most caused by the problems in the human psyche. In here, not out there.

The argument, well we're going to destroy the earth we better have a backup plan to get out. Maybe we can focus the resources and attention on the problems here on earth in a meaningful way.

I disagree. Without monitoring from satellites for example we would not have nearly the volumes of evidence we currently have of climate change, deforestation and pollution etc. If we did not have this data these issues would be ignored and swept under the rug even more so than they currently are. Finding ways to make this less expensive is a good thing.

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