July 26, 2021

Jeff Bezos sends a Not-So-Subtle “Screw You” message to Amazon Employees.

Jeff Bezos didn’t need to make a phallus-shaped rocket to tell Amazon employees how screwed they are.

They live that reality every day of their lives. Their unethical and abysmal work conditions and no living wage ensure that.

The “thank you” comment in his post-flight marketing event for his space tourism venture (guised as a press conference) was simply rubbing salt in their wounds. Cruel at best, sociopathic at worst.

So, last week, Jeff Bezos took an 11-minute round trip into space, well, actually the edge of space (where he spent four minutes in weightlessness) with three other individuals. This was the first of many commercial space flights he plans to offer in the newest industry of “space tourism.”

Four people toured on board Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket (that’ll forever be remembered for its shape, more than for its technical aspects): 18-year-old Dutch Oliver Daemen, also their first paying customer and the youngest person to go into space, Jeff’s brother Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, and 82-year-old aviation pioneer, Wally Funk.

They were introduced as the “newest astronauts” in the post-flight party/sales event aka press conference. But the New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pooped on their party by tightening the definition of the word “astronaut.” And rightfully so.

 

 

The post-flight press conference started off on a self-congratulatory note with a co-host pinning a sapphire medallion on all the four fliers’ chests, adding some words of wisdom (à la “Independence Day”): “This is to remind these folks that they are from planet Earth and they have a mission to protect their home.”

What a load of crap. They weren’t on a mission; it was a joyride—by their own admission. They aren’t doing nor endeavor to do anything remotely to protect their home, planet Earth. And protect from what, anyway?

Bezos started with the customary thank yous—to the technicians, engineers, the town in Texas where they launched the rocket, his family, mom et al. Lastly, as an afterthought (or a diabolical thought), he decided to mock his Amazon employees. Oh, wait, he thanked them. I’m confused.

With a seemingly nervous chuckle (also interpreted as a smug chuckle, or “you suckers!” chuckle), he said:

“I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this.”

Everyone laughs.

 

 

“So, 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.”

He went on to say that they are approaching 100 million in private sales already and the demand is very, very high. For context, each 10-minute space flight trip will cost around 250,000 dollars.

And then he went on a rant, which made no sense—to me, at least.

“Adventure and fun, but it’s also more. This is important. We are going to build a road to space so our kids and their kids can build a future—we need to do that! We need to do that to solve the problems here on Earth.

Earth is the only good planet in the solar system. I promise you, it’s the only good planet. And we have to take care of it, and if we go to space and see how fragile it is, you’ll want to take care of it even more. And that’s what it is about. Big vision.”

 

 

For those who argue how important space exploration is and that the humongous monetary investment is justified, here is the clincher. There is no technological innovation happening here. NASA did this 60 years ago, the only difference being a private individual is doing it now—but for what? Why?

For money, more money, and even more money (Bezos wants to be the leader and pioneer of the space tourism industry).

For ego (I can do it!).

For more ego (a dick-measuring contest, as one tweet said)—”I did it earlier (Richard Branson upstaged him on this one though), bigger (biggest windows ever in a space vehicle), better (went 12 miles further into space than Branson).”

Boredom (what do I do with all the money I have).

And some more money: some even say that it is unlikely he will make any profits on his space tourism venture any time soon, so does that mean all the money he put into his phallic rockets will sink? Nope. He can write off the losses as per the American capitalistic laws. So, basically, he gets to go on a joy ride and get tax write-offs. Money, ego, boredom, all for the win here.

Lesser mortals have some suggestions for Bezos though—start by giving living wages and better work conditions to your employees; paying your share of taxes could be another; ah, and green and sustainable ventures could be another useful thing to do with your money, in case you haven’t noticed climate change and eco-destruction’s impact on humans and the planet, of course. The same planet you waxed poetic about in your press conference, Mr. Bezos.

 

 

“Bezos is a financial and social parasite of the first order.” ~ David Walsh (Read more in the linked article below.)

To understand why this has enraged me this much, read After space flight, “Moneybags” Bezos acknowledges workers “paid for all this” and Jeff Bezos’s Vanity Space Flight Was a Uniquely American Disgrace.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice brainstorm why all these billionaires are going to space.

 

The internet is abound with memes and jokes about the rocket’s shape alongside serious social commentaries on the ethics of this whole endeavour. Humour is an essential life skill, especially in these times of diminishing social parity, so I cannot end without leaving some Twitter folks’ take on Mr. Bezos’ obscene display (of wealth and insensitivity) and the dildo-shaped rocket, of course.

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