Jeff Bezos thanked “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer” for paying for his inaugural trip into space yesterday, sparking criticism his comments were “tone deaf”.
Amazon’s co-founder and former chief executive Bezos broke numerous records, including being the richest man to leave Earth’s orbit, yesterday after embarking on a 10-minute flight to space on a rocket built by his company Blue Origin.
In a press conference following the flight Bezos thanked those who made his trip, thought to have cost nearly $1 billion, possible.
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
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this,” he said.
“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.”
Critics were quick to slam both Bezos and his billionaire counterpart Richard Branson, who also recently embarked on a $840 million flight into space, for frivolous spending of their vast wealth when there are plenty of more pressing issues here on Earth.
US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a long-time critic of Bezos, called his statements “tone deaf”, tweeting: “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.”
Fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders also took issue with Bezos’ statement, writing: “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.”
While Jeff Bezos was in Space today, his net worth rose by $1.1 billion.
(Amazon’s stock was up today and he owns about 11% of the company.) pic.twitter.com/Ni5Id21vhz
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) July 20, 2021
Around a billion people don't produce as much CO2 in their life as Bezos with his space flight yesterday.
Media are failing in lamenting higher probabilities of extreme weather events due to climate change – while celebrating Bezos/Branson flights without mentioning pollution. pic.twitter.com/y5viJXMPGz
— Philipp Heimberger (@heimbergecon) July 21, 2021
In an interview with CNN, Bezos responded to critics stating: “I say they are largely right. We have to do both. We have lots of problems here on Earth, and we have to work on those.”
The billionaire also said that Blue Origin was creating jobs and driving growth in new industries, while others have pointed to his philanthropic ventures including the Bezos Earth Fund.
His non-profit invests in “scientists, NGOs, activists and the private sector to drive new technologies, investments, policy change and behaviour”, and will receive over $10 billion from Bezos by 2030.