We Do Not Need To Give Jeff Bezos $10 Billion To Go To The Moon, Unless He Plans To Stay There
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon overlord Jeff Bezos has made $86 billion dollars. Also, during the pandemic, Amazon spent nearly $10,000 a day paying three anti-union "consultants" to "persuade" the employees at their Bessemer, Alabama, plant not to form a union. Overall, things have been going pretty well for the richest man in all of America. Well, except for the fact that his space exploration side-hustle Blue Origin lost out on a NASA contract to Elon Musk's space exploration side-hustle, SpaceX. Both companies planned to send people to the moon, but SpaceX promised to do it for about $7 billion less than Blue Origin.
This week — and possibly even today — the Senate is set to vote on the Innovation and Competition Act (formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act), which may include an amendment to give an additional $10 billion to NASA, which is likely to go to Amazon — whose proposal to NASA just so happened to cost $10 billion.
The amendment was proposed by Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, where Amazon just happens to be based. Cantwell has argued that the amendment is necessary for redundancy, in case the SpaceX mission falls through.
But not everyone feels super great about giving the richest man in the country a $10 billion bailout to go to the fucking moon. As such, Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed an amendment to specifically not do that.
Purpose: To eliminate the multi-billion dollar Bezos bailout.
On Wednesday, Sanders tweeted "Jeff Bezos is the richest guy on the planet. He's gotten $86 billion richer since the start of the COVID pandemic. Does he really need $10 billion from Congress for space exploration?"
Jeff Bezos is the richest guy on the planet. He's gotten $86 billion richer since the start of the COVID pandemic.… https://t.co/bmqrKkcWaZ— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1622034240.0
No, he does not.
Now, to be fair, there have been a number of important scientific advancements onboard the International Space Station, as it allows for long-duration microgravity research. Cancer treatment, osteoporosis treatment, water purification treatment, etc. General "going to the moon" space travel has also resulted in many innovations. Like the Dustbuster, freeze-dried ice cream and memory foam mattresses.
But the vast majority of these innovations came as the result of preparing to send people to the moon rather than those people actually physically being on the moon, and they largely benefited private companies. Like Amazon. So we'd be giving Amazon $10 billion to go to the moon and, in the process of that, probably come up with some things they can then turn a profit on.
Now, that might be a lovely thing to do. People love space and think space is cool, and they like the idea of sending people to the moon and possibly colonizing Mars or some other planet. It's exciting. (I personally don't really give a shit, but I've also never seen Star Wars.) That's what the future is supposed to be. Space and hovercrafts and unitards for all. But it also seems a little like "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when we live in a country where people don't have the basic necessities they need to live and don't get to have them because "that would be socialism!"
Socialism is apparently good enough for Jeff Bezos when he wants a $10 billion space buyout, but terrifying when it comes to ensuring that people have health care, food, shelter, and education. It seems like we should take care of those things first. There's something fucked up about the fact that while all of us will have had our tax dollars go to sending some billionaires into space, if for some reason they actually did discover a cure for cancer or something along the way, not everyone who contributed will get to benefit.
There is almost no way that Jeff Bezos will ever, in his whole lifetime, be able to spend the $188 billion he is currently worth. It's just not possible. We are told that it is important to allow Jeff Bezos and other billionaires to have more money than they could ever spend in 10 lifetimes, because to do otherwise would be to stifle innovation, to discourage people from trying. We have arranged our whole damn economy to support their existence. Americans have sacrificed, they have gone without things that people in other countries get, all so that we can have Jeff Bezos. It is now time for Jeff Bezos to put up or shut up with the "innovation," and if he wants to go to space, he should spend his own goddamned money to do it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse