Jeff Bezos, billionaire and reptile, has been flown in his rocket to the edge of space and back. Well, straight up into the air to a height of around 63 miles, to achieve a spot of weightlessness.
Bezos is the founder of Amazon and has accumulated Croesus-levels of wealth through business success and a stubborn refusal to pay taxes. He doesn’t even pretend to feel obligated to do good with his wealth.
In the past year, his ex-wife has become a much greater philanthropist than he has been over the past 25 years. Basically, if you want the Bezos’ fortune to do any good, it has to be taken from him first.
In 2018, he said to an interviewer: “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it.” You have to admire the honesty and the sheer inhumanity this quote displays. What would you do with $200bn? Cure diseases? End hunger? Eradicate poverty in an entire nation? No. Build a bunch of space rockets.
Extremely rich people, as a rule, have come to believe that they can buy anything (because they can). The one thing they cannot accept is being told that they can’t buy something. And once you’ve bought everything available, the ultimate purchase is life itself. This is why billionaires are so obsessed with funding technology to extend their own lifespans.
It’s difficult to spend all those billions with only a hundred years on Earth. Why give your fortune to others when you could increase the amount of time that you have to luxuriate in your own reptilian wealth?
It is not a coincidence that the richest people in the world are funding a new space race. They are not motivated by a love of technology, or even a belief in the universe as a business opportunity. They are making plans to get out of here. Every decent billionaire has an armoured escape room in each of their houses, and a helicopter to whisk them away from any sinking yacht they may have boarded. They now want to have an exit from Earth if things go bad here. Which they obviously are.
It may sound absurd to us, the tiny people, who accept that our fate is bound to the fate of this planet. But it is perfectly in line with the sort of thinking that drives men to become billionaires in the first place. Looming climate change disaster is not a reason to come together and recognize that our destinies are linked with those of all living things; rather, it is a sign that the time has come to build the escape vehicles.
That is what Jeff Bezos meant when he said that his rocket company is “the most important work I’m doing”. He and the other space-obsessed billionaires are similar to the rich men aboard the Titanic who pushed the women and children aside to jump into the lifeboats when they realised the ship was sinking. As the public watches the space tourists blasting off, what we are really seeing is the beginning of a getaway plan – the distilled embodiment of selfishness, brought to life.
Another reading, of course, is that Bezos, at 57, is suffering a massive mid-life crisis, just like the man, Richard Branson, who beat him up to space by a week, seems to have been going through since the early 80s
On seeing earth from space, Bezos said it made him appreciate its fragility, but he was also wearing a cowboy hat and his rocket very much resembles a penis.
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer,” Bezos said afterwards. “Because you guys paid for all this.” It was calculated that the $5.5bn the trip had cost could have bought enough food to stop 37.5 million people starving.
But like Branson and Elon Musk, his fellow adventurers in space, Bezos sees opportunities for commercial exploitation and wants in at the start. Branson says there might be a market for rockets to move people very fast between cities on Earth, a bit like Concorde. Musk wants to corner an emerging private sector market in shuttling crew and cargo to space stations, created by cutbacks in the Nasa space programme.
It has been clear that billionaires should be abolished since they first started using their money to undermine democracy, buying influence in government, the media, or impunity from justice. Since global inequality meant the 22 richest men in the world had more wealth than all the women in Africa. Since the pandemic created a record number of British billionaires in the same year where hundreds of thousands of less wealthy people lost their jobs. The world’s 500 richest people added $1.8tn to their fortunes last year.
The time has come, because we can’t wait any longer. Billionaires should be abolished as soon as possible, not because of inequality and unfairness, but because they are apocalyptically and completely naff.
Branson started work on his “commercial spaceline” in 2004. In 2007, three employees were killed in an explosion during testing and in 2014 a pilot died when the plane broke in half on a flight. There must be a better, safer way to spend your money.
Branson wasn’t expected to fly two weeks ago, there was going to be another test flight first, but when Bezos announced plans to be on the first passenger flight with his own space venture, Blue Origin, Branson changed his mind. Embarrassing really.
It is impossible not to be totally uncool if you are a billionaire. Money may offer immense privilege, but never cool. It sucks out all self-awareness and class. Bezos was at a breakfast meeting once, with the owner of a start-up he wanted to buy, and instead of a fry-up or cereal, he ordered octopus.
Once the waiter had stopped laughing, Bezos explained to the start-up guy: “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast. When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.” Abolish billionaires.
Abolish billionaires, with their egos that can’t be contained on a single planet, with their teeny tiny taxes, with their pretend philanthropy and hucksterism. Get rid of people who can’t order breakfast properly, or who have electric surfboards and pretend conquering space is a humanitarian project.
We’re going to get you, you stinking rich scumbags.