Billionaire Jeff Bezos thanked every Amazon employee and customer for ‘paying’ for his space trip but it wasn’t taken well by many.
The Amazon founder, who stepped down as CEO on July 5, expressed his ‘gratitude’ with good intentions but the result turned out to be just the opposite.
Critics have been regularly pointing out that the working environment at Amazon warehouses was unsafe, the employees there were not given adequate breaks, and often underpaid.
DemCast USA Executive Director Nick Knudsen said that 'tone-deaf' cannot really describe Bezos' thanks while adding that Amazon workers, whose unions were barred from formation, subsidised this space trip.
Tone deaf doesn’t begin to describe this @JeffBezos quote.I’m sure your workers who get blocked from unionizing at every turn are just giddy with excitement about your neato field trip to outer space that they subsidized. https://t.co/pmgCUIp7kp— Nick Knudsen 🇺🇸 (@NickKnudsenUS) July 21, 2021
Bezoz's other critics included US senators and representatives who spoke on behalf of the workers and customers. They even pointed out how Amazon paid zero US federal income tax in 2018.
US representative Nydia Velaquez tweeted a media report that underscored that an average Amazon worker got paid $29,000 per annum in 2020 while Bezos salary was 58 times more at $1.68 million in addition to owning 10 percent of Amazon's shares.
While Jeff Bezos is all over the news for paying to go to space, let's not forget the reality he has created here on Earth. https://t.co/9CSgpfUXgt— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) July 20, 2021
Critics remembered how Amazon stopped the $2 per hour payment for 2.5 lakh warehouse workers facing hazards at work in June 2020 during the pandemic even as the e-commerce giant announced its highest sales growth in three years.
US senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted that Bezos forgot to thank hardworking Americans, who paid taxes to run their country while Bezos and Amazon paid no taxes.
Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing. https://t.co/tjOeCWbUA8— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 20, 2021
US representative and democrat Earl Blumenauer (also on the tax-writing committee) asked for a law to tax the rich travelling to space (similar to taxes for flights) as private space travel doesn't deserve tax-free holiday for not creating any scientific value.
I just announced my Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act.Space travel isn't a tax-free holiday for the wealthy.We pay taxes on plane tickets. Billionaires flying into space—producing no scientific value—should do the same, and then some! #SPACETax🚀— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) July 20, 2021
Former US secretary of labour Robert Reich, now a professor of public policy at the University of California, tweeted that Bezos had prevented workers' unions from coming into being. He asked Bezos to pay the workers what they deserved rather than merely thanking them.
Reich pointed out that Bezos’ fun trip cost $2.54 million per minute and Americans were still arguing whether billionaires need to be taxed. He urged Bezos to pay his fair share of taxes before thanking Amazon workers.
Jeff Bezos’ recreational space trip cost $2,540,000 per minute, and we’re still arguing about whether the billionaires need to be taxed.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 21, 2021
Lobbyist and US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that Amazon's delivery drivers did not have health insurance during a pandemic. She said that Amazon is abusing its market power to hurt small businesses.
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
Bezos financed his space venture Blue Origin by selling Amazon shares.