back to article I've got way too much cash, thinks Jeff Bezos. Hmmm, pay more tax? Pay staff more? Nah, let's just go into space

Poor, poor Jeff Bezos. The Amazon chief executive has complained he has so much money, the only thing he can think to blow it on is his Blue Origin space tourism project. Bezos was in Germany last month to pick up the Axel Springer Award for being such an innovative person, and gave an extensive interview to the German …

  1. Anne-Lise Pasch

    I disagree...

    ... With basicaly everything in this editorial rant.

    I'm sorry, but I wish more people would put resources into space, and Government won't be the ones to do it. I don't care if its a total mouth-breathing dickwad who does it, as long as it gets done.

    The sooner we can get off this ball of mud and leave behind the stupidity ("oh, this particular piece of mud/sand/blade of grass is *special* because... reasons") the better.

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: I disagree...

      Yes, it would be better if we had a presence in space to an extent of a viable population on one or more planets/moons.

      No, I'm not impressed with the rest of it. You seem to misunderstand the concept that while we only have one planet and while said "blades of grass" etc keep it limping along - they are indeed special along with everything else that does so. An example being the American wolf. It indirectly improves the health of its habitat - which benefits its prey (which rednecks love to pepper with armour piercing bullets), but rednecks still shoot, poison, trap them. Personally I'd solve the problem by culling the rednecks who break the law by killing them. That way every one wins.

      The wolves - no more illegal culling, generally by or instigated by crusty bigoted geriatrics.

      The health service - less crusty bigoted geriatrics to treat.

      The environment generally - less clapped out trucks owned by crusty bigoted geriatrics (a stove bolt six were good enough fer yer great grandpappy so it's good enough for you...)

      Human society - less people getting infected with the CBGs bigotry and buck toothed retardedness.

      There really is a circle of life, and while grass might not be important in your opinion - it is to the animal kingdom. Tell you what, why don't I razee your home, take your car, smartphone and money and leave you to survive on your own wits. You'd be dead in a week. That's what happens to the animals when some nerk with your sort of attitude wipes out a distinctly unspecial area of woodland or grassland..

      1. pauhit

        Re: I disagree...

        The guy makes a comment about getting off of earth, and you go on a rant about rednecks. You must be fun at parties.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I disagree...

      When you say the sooner "we" who do you think that "we" will be? What do you think will happen once we can terraform planets to make them habitable? Do you think you will going? It'll be the rich and their slaves (in all but name).

      I think before we even start looking to other planets we need to sort our own out first or we'll just repeat the same mistakes all over again. The stupidity you speak of is ourselves and we only have ourselves to blame for letting it get to this point.

      1. asphytxtc

        Re: I disagree...

        > I think before we even start looking to other planets we need to sort our own out first or we'll just repeat the same mistakes all over again.

        With respect, I disagree. I see this argument all the time "lets fix our current home first before messing up any others", in reality, humanity has reached that "inconsiderate teenager" phase of it's existence. You know the phase, doesn't care, does their own things, leaves mess all over the place, can't be arsed to clean or help with the housework. It's only when you leave school and you're expected to move out, pay your own way and actually find yourself HAVING to do your own washing, cleaning and such, because there's nobody there do just do it for you, that you finally develop an appreciation for the need to do it.

        The same applies here, we're only going to develop an appreciation for cleaning up our own mess (and so "fixing up our home") when we've got an appreciation for not taking things for granted. When you're forced to live on an inhospitable rock, thousands of miles away from any help, with no guarantee of clean water, clean air or even food unless you get your act together, pitch in and do your chores. That's when mankind will finally develop an adult appreciation for what we're doing to the environment, and a want to correct the mistakes of the past in the process.

        Not to mention, the technology we need to develop to do such things can be of just as much use here on earth as well.

        1. doublelayer

          Re: I disagree...

          "It's only when you leave school and you're expected to move out, pay your own way and actually find yourself HAVING to do your own washing, cleaning and such, because there's nobody there do just do it for you, that you finally develop an appreciation for the need to do it."

          The history of people going to far-off places, where either there weren't any people or they killed a lot of the people through enslavement, where technology was not advanced enough to connect these places, effectively making it similar to the planet scenario, is not on your side. Those places aren't doing dramatically different from other places. The problem you run into is that there are a lot of things that could cause you difficulty getting there in the first place. If, for example, some resources could be put into making life feasible for more people here on Earth, the likelihood of a major war with major weapons obliterating your launch sites before sufficiently advanced craft can launch you to a new planet will be decreased. Even if you consider travel to other planets being a major concern for right now, you might want to look at earth a bit before you go all in on the new tech.

      2. SotarrTheWizard
        Mushroom

        Congratulations! (was : Re: I disagree...)

        You just repeated the argument against colonizing the New World. Half the point of new worlds, be they continental or planetary, or asteroidal, or, hopefully some day, in another solar system. . . . is a fresh start.

        FDISK /MBR and install the OS of your life from scratch, as it were. . .

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I disagree...

      But the question is, should Amazon do all it can to avoid paying taxes, which could be used to solve social problems in the very cities that it has presence, just so Bezos can complete with Musk to see whose rocket is biggest?

      I don't think it's an either/or situation. With that much money to burn he could do both.

      1. Arctic fox
        Flame

        @Dan 55 Re:"But the question is, should Amazon do all it can to avoid paying taxes....."

        Indeed, a very good question. I have to admit that when I contemplate the attitudes of the super-rich and the behaviour of BigCorp (pretty much all of them) when it comes to having in general any sense of obligation to the society they make their eye-watering sums of money in and their attitude towards paying a fair wack in tax in particular is concerned I begin to develop an odd affection for piano wire and lamposts. See icon.

      2. maffski

        @Dan 55 Re: I disagree...

        I don't think it's an either/or situation. With that much money to burn he could do both.

        Which, of course, he is. If he pays the wages of some rocket engineers then he's paying their income taxes (and sales taxes on all they buy etc.). If he buys rocket gizmos from some supplier then he's paying towards the corporation taxes of the suppliers (and the taxes of their employees etc.)

        It's not like he's loading the rocket up with 100 dollar bills and blasting them into space.

    4. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I disagree...

      Do you want to live in a planet where Jeff Bezos is the supreme emperor?

      1. Paul Smith

        Do you want to live in a planet where Jeff Bezos is the supreme emperor?

        As opposed to one with Trump in charge? Ohhhh... Tough one.

      2. MrAnonCoward43

        Re: I disagree...

        Can't figure out if the up vote for this is an official vote from me for Supreme King Bezos or a vote for a 'Not in any world would I want that greedy, tax dodging, wage slave owner to be supreme emperor'.. gave you an arrow up either way - take that Jeff!

        At least we can all smile that the king of the world is called JEFF!

    5. Triggerfish

      Re: I disagree...

      I'd say this ball of mud is pretty special, after all it's where we live and it keeps us alive.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " I wish more people would put resources into space,"

      Face it: chemical rockets are expensive, slow and little reusable. You can put a rover on Mars, maybe a couple of people to plant a flag, and nothing else. The expense to set a colony - if it could survive, are prohibitive, and you just waste ginormous, non replaceable, resources to bring a small payload to an hostile environment - which again would require enormous resources to be kept habitable - and where those resources should come from? How much H2 and O2 - water - are we going to burn in space? Kerosene and methane won't last forever too.

      Sure, interesting science, but a dead-end until someone finds a more economical and far more powerful propulsion system, and a way to survive very long time in space. Loot at astronauts after six months in the space station. And if the speed of light is an unbreakable barrier, mankind won't go anywhere in space.

      Terraforming, space arks, and interstellar voyages are still just the realm of FICTION. Even a lunar outpost would be a big issue. A colony on Mars is not like colonizing New England or Australia, albeit I can see Amazon bringing slaves there too, if only they could.

      There's a good chance we're going to destroy this planet before being able to go back and forth a new one. And people like Bezos won't be able to escape on their rockets.

      1. catprog

        Re: " I wish more people would put resources into space,"

        For water.

        Doesn't mars now have confirmed water?

        Also arn't comets pretty much ice.

    7. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: I disagree...

      "The sooner we can get off this ball of mud and leave behind the stupidity ("oh, this particular piece of mud/sand/blade of grass is *special* because... reasons") the better."

      You might leave this ball of mud. But you'll never leave the stupidity behind.

    8. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: I disagree...

      You know, wanting technology to advance and hoping that we can one day stick a colony on the moon/mars that is relatively (and increasingly) self sustaining is fine. I want that to happen and so do most tech types.

      I'd also like people working for Amazon on earth to actually earn enough food to be able to buy food, water, a roof over their head and still have some disposable income for entertainment etc so those people can have a decent quality of life. Preferably without relying on the states social safety net to make sure their staff can eat. Yeah, that bit of public services that Amazon does not pay any taxes towards.

      Oh, and i'd like Amazon to pay money in taxes to pay for those public services that they and their staff rely on, too.

      There is no need for any of these points to be exclusive and it should be something that everybody but Amazon's PR staff can get behind because regardless of how the "divide and conquer" crowd try and spin it, this is not a left/right issue or even an issue that really relates to politics.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: I disagree...

        Listen - Theres nothing out there.

        Just a load of floating rocks. we've got rocks here, and a good few other things that will be handy sustaining ourselves.

        "Getting off this rock" because its a bit broken , is like a bunch of drunk teenagers on a party boat thats now wrecked and covered in sick saying "Lets get off this wreck" to find nothing but water in every direction and the odd rock to sit on . In fact theyd be a lot better off having heat and water and food - out there its Just Rock.

        Terraforming? Colony ships? get your head out of the clouds. If we cant even do the comparatively simple task of living on this planet withoit poisoning ourselves in our own shit , there is no chance we will survive long enough to do those things

        Now I like space , and spaceships .Its a great place for a day out but i wouldnt want to move there.

        Last time I posted something like this , along with "whats the point?" I got a couple of responses:

        - All the inventions that go along with it: Teflon etc

        - safety from Asteroids , eggs basket etc

        and that was it

      2. mdubash

        Re: I disagree...

        Actually, itis a left/right issue.

        The question is whether it's right for one hyper-rich guy to decide where to spend his billions, or whether some of that money, which was generated by a business that's subsidised by the rest of us in the form of transportation, environmental management, education, defence, and all other other public services that enable his business to continue operating, should be spent in a manner determined collectively, so that its benefits can be distbuted to those who need it most.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I disagree...

        Oh, and i'd like Amazon to pay money in taxes to pay for those public services that they and their staff rely on, too.

        Yes, it does rather raise the question of how (one of) the world richest can be running a company that has paid no federal taxes while taking home one of the biggest annual salary + bonus in the world. Yes, it's apparently legal, yes, it's the loop holes in the tax system, but that doesn't make it right.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: I disagree...

          "biggest annual salary + bonus in the world"

          I guess he pays tax on that though?

    9. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I disagree...

      The sooner we can get off this ball of mud and leave behind the stupidity ("oh, this particular piece of mud/sand/blade of grass is *special* because... reasons") the better.

      You're deluded. We get off this ball of mud and guess what? Our prejudices, stupidity and arrogance will go with us.

      And if you think he's doing great things for space, think again. His little spaceship isn't about exploration, satellites, or colonization. It's about giving the rich a few minutes "up there" and a maybe a certificate, 8X10 color photo, and a lapel pin.

  2. Jemma Silver badge

    Olds

    An American CEO is an utter unmitigated slimy borderline criminal bastard.

    How exactly is this news, they've all, without exception, been like that since 1776.

    1. Ben1892

      Re: Olds

      Usually they have buildings named after them and are hailed as "great founders" too - I think history will also be as kind to Elon and Jeff, except they'll have cities on Mars named after them

      1. Rainer

        Re: Olds

        At least, Carnegie founded libraries.

        Bezos is just pissing away the money on space-travel - as if space there wasn't enough space-debris in the atmosphere already.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: Olds

          Bezos is just pissing away the money on space-travel for rich people. What musk is doing, on the other hand, is the real deal.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Olds

            Bezos is just pissing away the money on space-travel for rich people. What musk is doing, on the other hand, is the real deal.

            It's just 'Tourism'.

            It's not going to really solve any earthbound problems as the moneyed mostly useless parasites will be coming back down again.

            When colonies happen, they'll be driven by either mining and the hard life and austere conditions that come with it or future tyrannical employment overlords like Bezos packing people off to run warehouses or call centres off planet to avoid employment laws, followed by some sort of Red Faction and eventually fragmentation into independent states with a whole new set of mindless bigots farting their nonsense over the communication channels.

            Progress? You can take humanity into space, but don't expect evolution into higher lifeforms, just 'cause they fell out of the cradle reaching for the shiney baubles on the mobile.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Olds

              When colonies happen, they'll be driven by either mining and the hard life and austere conditions that come with it or future tyrannical employment overlords like Bezos packing people off to run warehouses or call centres off planet to avoid employment laws, followed by some sort of Red Faction and eventually fragmentation into independent states with a whole new set of mindless bigots farting their nonsense over the communication channels.

              Progress? You can take humanity into space, but don't expect evolution into higher lifeforms, just 'cause they fell out of the cradle reaching for the shiney baubles on the mobile.

              youve been watching Firefly! or bladerunner.

          2. Clive Galway

            Re: Olds

            New Shepard is a space tourism vehicle.

            Blue Origin is NOT a space tourism company.

            New Armstrong is going to be orbital, and it is slated to be comparable or better than Falcon Heavy.

            He's just using space tourism as a stepping stone, whereas SpaceX are using cargo transfer as their first stepping stone.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        I think history will also be as kind to Elon and Jeff, except they'll have cities on Mars

        I think the actual survivors in that environment will name their capital something more appropriate.

        "New Mecca" springs to mind.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      they've all, without exception, been like that since 1776.

      Without exception? Nary a one?

      I've seen some serious cases of butthurt in my time, but there isn't enough Preparation H in the world to remedy this.

      It is true that the love of money is the root of all evil. Covetousness isn't particularly virtuous, either.

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

        Re: they've all, without exception, been like that since 1776.

        Dunno if 1776 was really the starting point...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: they've all, without exception, been like that since 1776.

        I worked for Sun for many years .... I rather liked Scott Mcnealy ......

    3. Malignant_Narcissism

      Re: Olds

      I assume you dropped your Amazon account then, eh?

  3. Herby Silver badge

    Crumbs...??

    It is people like this (who pay their people little) that cause loons like Nancy Pelosi cause to celebrate with silly comments. I also note that he supports such causes all while keeping the $$$.

    Well in some cases, yes crumbs (*SIGH*).

  4. jpo234

    The US is currently at full employment (4.1%). If conditions at Amazon were really that unbearable employees would just move on.

    That said, "Millions of people living and working in Space" is a grand vision that somebody has to pursue. If we always push it out to tomorrow, it will never be done.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      If you live in a small-ish town with an Amazon Warehouse, and you're pissed off with the wages, where do you move to? It's likely that the only place in town with vacancies is the one with low wages and poor conditions - i.e. the one you're already working for.

      1. HamsterNet

        Its like that and that's the way it is.

        Should have gone to school, should have learned a trade, but you spent all your time in the bum cafe, now your crying that your underpaid....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Its like that and that's the way it is.

          Should have gone to school, if you could find a way, for to get that degree, you have to pay. If you had a rocky start, good luck to you, you have a chance, but I have two. When money's there, you have a choice, but if it's not, you have only your voice. If they can shout, over your talk, the only way to leave, is to try and walk.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If you live in a small-ish town with an Amazon Warehouse, and you're pissed off with the wages, where do you move to? "

        ...... If you live in that same small-ish town without the Amazon Warehouse, and you're pissed off with not having a job, where do you move to?

        “The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited all.”

    2. Pier Reviewer

      1. National unemployment figures mean squat. There are pockets of high unemployment and poverty that Amazon actively exploit.

      2. Zero hours contracts. If you’re on one, you’re not unemployed! Gov loves this. “Look at the record employment figures, aren’t we awesome?!” they crow. Meanwhile people are starving because they’re employed, but not actually getting paid a dime because they’re not needed this week.

      The idea these ppl could just move on if they don’t like it is a fallacy. To what exactly?

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The US is currently at full employment (4.1%). If conditions at Amazon were really that unbearable employees would just move on.

      The US employment rate is a notoriously unreliable figure. It has been remarkably constant even while jobs have been created because the US saw a significant portion of the labour force leave the employment market after 2008 and some of them have been returning. Nevertheless, wages are starting to rise but that still doesn't mean that the new jobs are where the people are, or that the people are suitable or qualified for them. Indeed, Amazon's push into automation is presaging the next wave of layoffs for warehouse, delivery and store staff.

      So, what's not to like?

    4. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      What?

      You mean workers are people like corporations and not just a fungible resource?

    5. katrinab Silver badge

      The Labour Participation Rate in the US is 62.9%, compared with 78.8% in the UK, where unemployment rate is 4.2%.

      That means that in the US, in addition to the 4.1% who are unemployed, there are another 37.1% who don't have a job, but aren't classified as unemployed for one reason or another, compared with "only" 21.2% in the UK.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        That means that in the US, in addition to the 4.1% who are unemployed, there are another 37.1% who don't have a job, but aren't classified as unemployed for one reason or another,

        In the US the only number that counts towards "the unemployed" are those drawing unemployed benefits. There's folks whose unemployment has run out that aren't counted. More than we'd like to admit. There's those that haven't been employed because they're "unemployable" due to health, drugs, or criminal record. It goes on but yes, the number is higher, a lot higher.

    6. JohnFen Silver badge

      "If conditions at Amazon were really that unbearable employees would just move on."

      Yes, the US is at full employment on the whole, but that employment is not evenly distributed. That's why Amazon tends to set up warehouses in economically depressed areas where people don't have a realistic option to "just move on".

      1. JimJimmyJimson

        But whilst they can't move on presumably there wasn't anywhere for them to work pre Amazon...

  5. Rainer

    Compare Bezos to Reinhold Würth

    See the German Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_W%C3%BCrth

    He's also a billionaire, but he founds museums and art-galleries (free admission) in various countries and pays for an orchestra in his home-town.

    People always complain about Apple being the big tax-cheat - but in reality, Amazon is much worse. And at least, Apple didn't hold a silly contest about where to build campuses.

    Bezos acts a lot like a late-19th-century capitalist, who thought all workers were lazy bastards that needed to be held down and kept on the short-leash, else they would spend all the money on booze and stop coming to work a few days.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Compare Bezos to Reinhold Würth

      Those nasty capitalist like Joseph Rowntree who paid his workers well and built great houses in York.

      Then there's the beautiful town of Bournville. Plus Port Sunlight (named after the soap). etc etc

      You need to learn more facts and read less propaganda.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Compare Bezos to Reinhold Würth

        Yes, but, no, but...

        Rowntree was a Quaker. And serious about it. Unlike most USian capitalists who claim to be some sort of devout Christian but manage to break "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" with every breath.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "some sort of devout Christian but manage to break"

          The problem is mostly Evangelism and its believe that if your are among the "chosen ones", a predestined, you get Paradise without much effort, so you're free to walk over others as you like. The strange thing is there is nothing like that in the Gospels... but there are things like camels and needles...

          It's more an ancient testament believing, David could be a murderer and lustful man, but because he's in the grace of god, everything is OK, and is going to be the greatest of all kings...

          I think that the Bible is so long, most readers stop well before reaching the Gospels and reading them fully, and built the wrong "Christianity", mostly based on ideas Jesus was going to change...

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Compare Bezos to Reinhold Würth

        "Those nasty capitalist like Joseph Rowntree who paid his workers well and built great houses in York."

        Who clearly wasn't one of the C19 captialists being talked about, as you might have realised if you'd read the rest of the sentence:

        "a late-19th-century capitalist, who thought all workers were lazy bastards"

        RTFC

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bill Gates....

    ..hated by many here, but it trying to eliminate malaria, improve the US education system for the poor and improve lives for millions of impoverised women.

    Bezo wants to play with big kids toys.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bill Gates....

      And not only is Gates giving nearly all of his wealth away ( in a seriously run organised manner, targeted at specific goals) but he is, along with pals like Warren Buffet, encouraging other billionaires to do the same.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Bill Gates....

      I think you've been around long enough to realise that most of us here, as much as we like to hate on Microsoft, are prepared to give credit where credit is due.

    3. cd

      Re: Bill Gates....

      He took it all off student's lunch trays and out of teacher supplies. He owes it back.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bill Gates....

      "..hated by many here, but it trying to eliminate malaria, improve the US education system for the poor and improve lives for millions of impoverised women."

      Which is another parallel with the robber barons of the past. Trample all over everyone in the scramble to the top then, as age advances, realise you are not immortal after all and if you want to be remembered in a nice way, start spending that money on "good causes". Yes, there are Carnegie Halls and Carnegie Libraries, but was there were also shitty wages and conditions land violent strike breakers, deaths etc. eading up to those grand designs.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Not just USA

    Several large companies, including Walmart, are infamous for paying wages so low that the taxpayer sometimes has to fill in the gap

    Whereas in the wonderful socialist utopia of the UK we have a government that sets (and sometimes enforces) a minimum wage! A minimum wage that they set to be rather lower than the actual minimum wage needed to live, so many many people, employed by companies large and small, have to depend on the taxpayer (including the person on minimum wage) filling the gap. Net result, my taxes subsidise the Tesco shareholders, allowing them to get away with underpaying their staff and suppliers, while I have to pay the balance. Nice trick if you can manage it.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Not just USA

      The cost of living varies so widely across the country that a national minimum wage is clearly never going to work.

      If you fix it at the level needed by a worker to buy a house in London then it means that companies in Grimsby and Scarborough won't hire because they can't make enough money. If you fix it at the level needed to buy a house in Grimsby then people in London can't afford to buy their lunchtime panini and moccalokkapuchino.

      So a minimum wage gives you a choice between pushing up unemployment in areas with low wages and pushing up poverty in areas with high wages. And of course whichever you choose the lefties will rant and froth about how evil it all is and how evil you are and so on ad infinitum because that's all they ever do.

      It's an idiot system that should be scrapped.

  8. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Given a choice

    Given a choice of Besos and Musk vs Boeing... Is there a point of even considering this a choice in the first place?

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    What to do with surplus money?

    Hmmm, tricky. Obviously the first thing is to ensure a regular supply of rolled-up Forbes magazines, but after that?

    I am impressed with the way certain insanely wealthy people have given a boost to the human adventure in space. But there are other alternative big projects - the Gates Foundation is looking at some interesting ones, which save lives - millions of them - here and now.

    What to do with $100 billion? Tackle the 2.4 billion people without access to proper toilets and sanitation? Toilettwinning.org reckon that they can build a family toilet for £60. So, 2.4 billion divided by say, 6 in the family, = 400 million missing toilets. x £60 = £24 billion = about $40 billion dollars. So enough left over to provide clean drinking water to everyone.

    Space tourism, or improving the lives of billions? Tricky choice.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: What to do with surplus money?

      For people who like publicity like Bezos or Musk, saying "I'm going to make sure everyone in the world has a toilet" probably isn't the publicity they're looking for.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: What to do with surplus money?

        Yep, that's the problem. Joseph Bazalgette is one of my all-time heroes, and providing sanitation to 2.4billion people is Bazalgette to the Nth power.

        How would you like to be remembered? The bloke who screwed millions of people so he could fly in space, or the bloke who saved hundreds of millions of lives and possibly saved the planet. A global "St Bezos, patron saint of sanitation Day" would be a nice way to be remembered for the next 1000 years.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: What to do with surplus money?

          "How would you like to be remembered? The bloke who screwed millions of people so he could fly in space, or the bloke who saved hundreds of millions of lives and possibly saved the planet. A global "St Bezos, patron saint of sanitation Day" would be a nice way to be remembered for the next 1000 years."

          It is indeed a tough choice. Most of those 100's of millions saved have to to fed and they mainly live in the parts of the world where feeding everyone is a difficult proposition. I still upvoted you because you are correct. It's just a bit more complicated that installing karzis for everyone.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: What to do with surplus money?

        But it should be. Proper systems to handle human waste is one of the top 3 things that have benefited humanity as a whole. It's a noble endeavor.

      3. LucreLout Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: What to do with surplus money?

        For people who like publicity like Bezos or Musk, saying "I'm going to make sure everyone in the world has a toilet" probably isn't the publicity they're looking for.

        Sorry boss, I've gotta go take a quick Bezos....

        "Where's Chikeze going?" "He's gone for a Musk before lunch"

        I'm not sure I can wholly blame the billionaires.........

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: What to do with surplus money?

          Sorry boss, I've gotta go take a quick Bezos....

          "Where's Chikeze going?" "He's gone for a Musk before lunch"

          I'm not sure I can wholly blame the billionaires.........

          I doubt whether Thomas Crapper cares all that much :-)

    2. SVV Silver badge

      Re: What to do with surplus money?

      96.7 billion pounds / 7.6 billion people works out at £12.72 per person, meaning that Jeff could buy everybody in the world 1272 penny chews.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: What to do with surplus money?

        Can you still buy penny chews? Even a small Maoam is 10p

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What to do with surplus money?

          I can remember buying 2 chews for a halfpenny ( not quite old enough to remember one for a farthing ).

    3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: What to do with surplus money?

      Down votes again?

      How can calling for everyone in the world to have access to clean water and sanitation deserve a downvote?

      That bot is getting irritating. Can TPTB at El Reg please block it?

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: What to do with surplus money?

        "Down votes again?"

        I figure that any downvote without an explanation for what is being disagreed with is meaningless.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: What to do with surplus money?

          What would be the point of El Reg having votes if everyone was supposed to post reasons for their vote?

          1. LucreLout Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: What to do with surplus money?

            What would be the point of El Reg having votes if everyone was supposed to post reasons for their vote?

            Upvoting saves lots of "I agree" or "Me too" type posts. Downvoting without explanation equates as "I feel you're wrong but don't have a reasoned position for why that might be". At least, that's how I htink about it.

            *cough* downvoters have small willys.

            1. Flatpackhamster

              Re: What to do with surplus money?

              Maybe they just downvote because they consider the post to be weapons grade fuckwittery but don't have the time to post a reply.

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: What to do with surplus money?

            I didn't say everybody should. I'm merely pointing out that a downvote without explanation isn't informative. It gives you no clue what, exactly, is being disagreed with.

    4. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: What to do with surplus money?

      Space tourism, or improving the lives of billions? Tricky choice.

      The idea is that space tourism today saves the species tomorrow. Its no good saving lives today if a space rock obliterates the planet tomorrow. Both are laudible goals, but we really shouldn't be doing one to the exclusion of the other.

    5. Brangdon

      Re: Space tourism, or improving the lives of billions?

      Neither Blue Origin nor SpaceX are about space tourism, so it's a false choice. Bezos wants to see a million people living and working in space. He wants to move industry up there to reduce pollution on Earth. Tourism is just a means to raise funding, and to promote interest in space.

      Musk wants to save the human species from extinction, another laudable goal. Along the way he is promoting solar power and electric cars to help clean up the environment. In addition he is trying to bring the internet to third world countries, via LEO satellites. That may not sound as important as proper toilets, but with the internet comes education - you can look up how to build a proper toilet online.

  10. 0laf Silver badge
    Terminator

    I wonder if these super rich technologists might get together and set up a joint company, maybe call it Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles or CHOAM for short (apologies for the niche reference).

    But it is a little scary that these guys are working towards the possibility of off world slave colonies that have previously only been the fever dreams of sci-fi writers.

    Maybe they'll create a democratic utopia on Mars but if they treat their current workers as meat based robots right now it seems unlikely they'd do things any differently in a new location.

  11. peterm3
    Thumb Up

    Good though provoking article. There is no alternative to having a state to organise systems to increase the welfare of the citizens. Ideally a democratic state where every citizen can decide the priorities and whether they want less homeless people on an unpoluted earth, or pointless ideas like sending Musk's car into orbit.

    On subsidising low wages - housing benefit also goes straight to landlords in a market with chronic under supply. The tenants can't choose a landlord who invests more, so they (or the taxpayer) ends up paying over the odds.

    I know plenty of rentier buy-to-let millionaires who have let to local authorities or have tenants on housing benefits.

  12. Anomalous Cowshed

    The problem is - there are a select group of nouveau-riche multi-billionnaires around whose businesses are so successful, they are despoiling all the value from local businesses in many countries, and effectively redistributing income / profits from neighbourhoods, communities, and cities, to mega-rich invididuals and powerful shareholders. Amazon (one of the best examples of a monolithic business destroying small local businesses, high streets and pushing down wages); uber (destroying the livelihood of thousands of hard-working professionals by offering cheaper services and paying rubbish wages). All these companies offer extreme convenience to the consumer, much improved over wht existed before, and therefore it is almost impossible for most people to resist the temptation to use their services. But this is like the devil's temptation: at the end of the day, most consumers must earn their living too, and such companies will eventually threaten that livelihood, and plunge them into poverty, making them unable to afford much convenience. And I have not even touched upon Google (near monopoly of online advertising, with ability to make or break struggling small businesses through 'keywords' buying, frightening perceived monopoly on truth, destroyer of libraries...) and Facebook (with its huge, illicit stores of personal data and near monopoly of human interactions among certain stratas of society - the most vulnerable ones unfortunately).

    This may be termed progress, but it's happened before, and the results aren't very progressive for the vast majority of people affected.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Exactly A Cowshed. Exactly. I've been saying this for years. It's a race to the bottom. On a rocket sled.

  13. uncle sjohie

    giving plegde

    Jef Bezos is one of the few billionaires who hasn't signed on to "the giving pledge", the initiative of bridge partners Gates and Buffet, which basically means that after they die, they leave the majority of their wealth to a foundation, and a couple of hundred million for their children etc. I think that would be a good start for him, besides paying a livin' wage to his employees.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: giving plegde

      Gates just gave a pretty nice $16M horse farm to his daughter for a graduation present - rich people problems - I got $50 at mine lol. I can admit I'm a bit jealous, that's a number I've never played with personally.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: giving plegde

      Pay a living wage? Thats just crazy commie talk!

  14. wolfetone Silver badge

    Jeff Bezos is a lot like Batman. Batman's super power is that he's rich, so he can build crazy gadgets. Bezos's innovation is that he's rich, so he can afford to throw a load of money at things and see what sticks.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Batman's super power is that he's rich, so he can build crazy gadgets."

      Batman is a billionaire who spends money producing new types of armour so he can more easily carry out his hobby of hospitalizing the impoverished in a recession-hit city. It's like American Psycho but without the business cards.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesco and Sainsbury/Asda

    "they're so poorly paid by multibillionaire Bezos that the government subsidizes their meals. Sorry, the American taxpayers subsidize their meals."

    That's the same in the UK, Tesco and Asdaburys are just as bad. They pay below the living wage and the government tops up the salaries, effectively subsidising their business.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Tesco and Sainsbury/Asda

      "That's the same in the UK, Tesco and Asdaburys are just as bad. They pay below the living wage and the government tops up the salaries, effectively subsidising their business."

      Yes, a minimum wage is supposed to stop the poorest and most vulnerable from being exploited with shitty wages, but many companies see it as a target level for the bottom rung of the ladder. There were reports of wage cuts when the minimum wage came in, some from big companies. Nothing so crass (usually!) of actually cutting existing employees wages, but new starters got new contracts on the new minimum wage.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't buy imagination, but you can rent it

    There are many issues that we must solve. Money might buy the resources, but it can't buy the imagination, or will to do it. Unlimited, free energy worldwide, for example. Tesla only had that idea over a hundred years ago, but was railroaded by people seeing the green bits of paper "value" in it.

    We'd need to update that to zero carbon energy. Clean water would be next, then growth and distribution of food. Once we solve those kinds of problems, we can let science and imagination go nuts on disease, go to town on environmental decline, and go to the next solar system.

    Moving away from a problem does not make it any less of a problem - some viruses can't help but kill their hosts.

  17. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Jeff Who?

    All that money he's thrown at it, and all he's got is a fancy sounding rocket that can't even make it to orbit.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Jeff Who?

      He has a first stage. SSTO doesn't exist yet outside of Kerbal Space Program.

      I might add that the second one of these first stages that they built sucessfully launched and (soft) landed five times.

  18. luminous

    This is why I don't buy stuff from Amazon. By doing so you are green lighting their horrible treatment of employees, demanding that taxpayers make up the shortfall in wages, and hammering the nail into the coffins of high street retailers.

    We'll all be living entirely in our own Matrix pods soon.. I hope people will be happy with that.

  19. Jonathon Green
    Trollface

    I like Americans. They’re funny...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      And not funny "ha ha".

  20. SullyTech

    BREAKING NEWS!

    Jeff Bezos is a wanker who treats hoardes of workers like crap!

    That ain't news. Nor is the fact that we, Joe Consumer, fully endorse the way he behaves on a daily basis even if we say we don't because he made buying stuff easy and we gave him all our money. The more we continue to do that the more he'll carry on doing what he wants.

    The only way to make a difference is to hit them where it hurts. In the wallet. Stop using tax dodging companies like Amazon that run roughshod over workers rights you'd be surprised what may change.

    Not that Jeff'll care mind you, he's already got your money. Besides, if we all stop using Amazon, how will we get hold of all that useless crap we order that we don't need?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work for a bit American company and...

    No surprise. Those of us on European contracts, doing exactly the same roles, and the envy of our US colleagues.

    That's basically the message in the article.

    Amazon is no different from anyone else.

  22. MrAnonCoward43
    Facepalm

    Alternatives needed

    I have developed a strong dislike for Amazon like lots of people and in the large part have completely reduced my spending there (10 years ago I loved the company), my prime has been cancelled and most new books, general house stuff, cds and dvds now come from elsewhere - what difference it will make I don't know, apart from my wallet having to pay more but at least I can hope that more of my spending money will be recycled in the economy and not for a space ship for Bezos.

    However, I really struggle to find a better location to get some things; where I live there a few second hand bookshops but I can pretty much guarantee none will have books that I'm after most of the time. Amazon is still the king for second hand book l istings even if 99% of the time they are for small sellers in the UK. I know there are a number of alternatives websites but the ones I've seen have been terrible and have nowhere near the same number of books available or a truly terrible website for buying things - perhaps someone knows better options?

    And the other thing seems to be general computer / electrical goods, recently I was looking for a 400gb micro sd card for my music player - I couldn't find any alternative other than Amazon or Ebay. Even PC World had a blog post about the 400gb card with an affiliate link out to Amazon.

    1. Choux

      Re: Alternatives needed

      If you're after second hand books then a *really* good alternative to amazon is Abe Books (other 2nd hand book sellers are available). Lots of British second hand sellers list books there, alongside a great many American ones too.

      I've bought old out of print books from there many a time, and often for a tiny sum. If you don't mind waiting a couple of days for postage it's reet good.

      As for tech goods, generally you can get stuff (even your 400GB SDXC card) with a little dilligence. You might pay the 'not amazon' tax, but I suspect that it's probably not something that's going to trouble you if you're dead set on denying Bezos your hard earned dollar/pound/euro/etc.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "when you're the world's richest man, is being part of this ensemble of cold-hearted bastards something you are "very proud" of?"

    What an utter, utter See You Next Tuesday. I hope he dies a slow, painful death in his fucking space rocket (preferably without it ever leaving the ground).

  24. RobertLongshaft

    Why not just title this article Capitalism is evil and socialism is great?

    The you could just ignore the 100m bodies socialism created in the 20th century while hypocritically avoiding paying tax like most socialists.

    Point one - You have absolutely no right what so ever to tell Jeff Bezos what to spend his money on. He was out in the world earning it while you were smoking bongs and watching countdown all day during your worthless media degree.

    Point two - Jeff Bezos has created over 500,000 jobs, probably hundreds if not thousands of millionaires, remind me again how many millionaires you and your clown marxist friends have created? None? How many jobs have you created? None?

    The ultra left wing leaning of this site is getting very tiresome, if capitalism is so bad how about you relocate to Vietnam or Venezuela? Shining examples of socialism let loose, they must be paradise to you.

    1. MrAnonCoward43

      Erm

      Should Amazon be forced to be broken up? Does it hold a monopoly in too many markets like you say for BT? Is it Capitalism to force that break up? Are there degrees of Capitalism or is it one form rules all?

      Claiming that someone who advocates taxes being paid where they are due and workers paid a fair wage so they can legitimately support themselves and their family and then equating that person to cheering for the the digging up of Stalin in a triumphant return is ludicrous. How about some people think Capitalism is quite probably the best system but also think that it can also support a welfare state, can also pay the majority more at the expense of the currently rapacious few, can be not so detrimental to the environment and can not be solely run on greed.

      Take a breath, put your Friedman textbook down and your Pinochet poster in the bin. Oh wait you're not a fan of Pinochet?

    2. David Nash Silver badge
      Facepalm

      @RobertLongshaft

      Suggesting a multi-billionaire give some of his money to improve the problems of the world is "ultra left wing leaning"?

      You must be dead inside.

      Capitalism is how he got his money, the article didn't say Capitalism was bad. It's just questioning his behaviour.

      Money is power, as they say, and they also say that with great power comes great responsibility.

      Ps. "Clown Marxists"? That's something I'd pay to see!

    3. Richard 81
      FAIL

      Ah the old joke that socialism == the Soviet Union. Never mind that the way Stalin treated his people was pretty much the same as how they'd been treated by the Tsar, going back hundreds of years. Or that the way Soviet Russia treated its neighbours was entirely consistent with how Imperial Russia had treated them. Obviously, ensuring staff are paid enough to live and that wealth is somewhat distributed throughout society, must surely result in a brutalised Soviet-like state.

      1. Daniel M

        Stalin treated his people ... pretty much the same as how they'd been treated by the Tsar

        Er, no, the Tsarina invited my German ancestors to settle in Russia. Some years after the Bolshevik revolutionaries shot one soldier-aged youth on his doorstep for refusing to join, and thereupon successfully conscripted the one standing next to him to the front lines, where he did not last a month, Stalin starved the rest to death and plowed under their village. Only my great-grandparents escaped. The letters from Russia desperately pleading for help stopped when everyone ... well, when everyone was dead. So yeah, "pretty much the same."

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Stalin treated his people ... pretty much the same as how they'd been treated by the Tsar

          I think you will find Russian excesses stretch well past the Bolshevik era. Stalin just could use the full resources of the state where the Czar was limited by the technology and the resources of time.

          The revolution did not happen because everything was peace and light at the time you know.

          Different masters, same result and all that

        2. Richard 81

          Re: Stalin treated his people ... pretty much the same as how they'd been treated by the Tsar

          Certain parts of Russian (and neighbouring) society suffered very badly under Stalin, yes. But then other parts suffered very badly under the Tsar. Overall that whole region has suffered and become brutalised over the course of hundreds of years.

          My point was, that engaging in a bit of socialism is not going to cause Western society to descend into a Soviet-like nightmare.

      2. RobertLongshaft

        Ah Richard 81

        "Obviously, ensuring staff are paid enough to live and that wealth is somewhat distributed throughout society, must surely result in a brutalised Soviet-like state."

        The problem, my dumb communist friend, is not that you want to redistribute wealth but that you want to redistribute OTHER PEOPLES WEALTH.

        Theft is morally abhorrent, as is socialism. You have no right to other peoples wealth, property or possessions.

        1. Richard 81

          If taxing people a decent amount to fund services like the NHS or to ensure that there is an effective safety net is communism, then call me a pinko.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "Theft is morally abhorrent, as is socialism. You have no right to other peoples wealth, property or possessions."

          Which is why Mr Bezos has no right to dip his hands into the US taxpayers pocket to subsidise his wages bill. However, I will argue that 50% of the fault there lies with the legislation that permits (and, in a free market, thereby encourages) such behaviour.

          If you have any kind of social safety net, a minimum wage is simply a way to stop the unscrupulous from gaming the system. If you don't have any kind of safety net, you can't really complain if you end up dead at the hands of someone who had nothing left to lose.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          <i>Theft is morally abhorrent</i>.

          That might be the case but how full do you think the Amazon warehouses would be if there was no police force?

          How many pieces of tat would Amazon sell if there was no internet infrastructure?

          How far down their packing list would Amazon workers get without having been taught to read by a state school system?

          There is nothing wrong with people making money but there is nothing wrong with the rest of us charging them for the benefits they get; both from the set of rules we impose on everyone and the collective endeavours which, cumulatively, you might call 'society' or 'the nation state'.

          The real problem is a legal system that allows the tax minimisation and exploitation of workers, though.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            The real problem is a legal system that allows the tax minimisation

            But YOU minimise your taxes too. Why not show Bezos the way to go and simply write a cheque for say 20% of everything you own to the tax man. It'll fund stuff you know. Yeah, I'm not sending a cheque either, but at least I understand my position as a fellow tax minimiser.

      3. jpo234

        The problem is, it's not just the Soviet Union. The latest example is the collapse of the Socialism of the 21st century, namely Venezuela.

        What else do you have? China with it's turbo charged capitalism? North Korea (no comment needed)? Cuba?

        There is no example of a working socialist country, none.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          What else do you have? China with it's turbo charged capitalism? North Korea (no comment needed)? Cuba?

          There is no example of a working socialist country, none.

          Even that most capitalist of socialist countries, France, is propped up year in year out by the CAP scheme.

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          @ jpo234

          "There is no example of a working socialist country, none."

          I have given you an upvote but I must disagree on one point. N.Korea is the only example of a socialist country working in this world so far. Of course it survives off the aid of the evil capitalists but so far it has survived pretty well. I just dont know anyone who would ever want to live like that.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: @ jpo234

            I have given you an upvote but I must disagree on one point. N.Korea is the only example of a socialist country working in this world so far.

            Nobody sane could read any of the Times articles about North Korean death camps and make a statement like that. The current Kim is estimated to personally spend 20% of the countries GDP on himself, while the people starve.

            https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/kim-jong-un-spent-over-600m-in-a-year-while-north-korean-citizens-starved-to-death-9145059.html

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_North_Korea

            If you think North Korea is a working socialist country then I have a bridge to sell you.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @ jpo234

              @ LucreLout

              "Nobody sane could read any of the Times articles about North Korean death camps and make a statement like that. The current Kim is estimated to personally spend 20% of the countries GDP on himself, while the people starve."

              That is the point I was making. The socialist country is still alive so it is a success so far but I dont know anyone who would want to live like that.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          "There is no example of a working socialist country, none."

          That's a bit of a red herring, as nobody is proposing that any nation become a "socialist" country. That said, I'll bit: you're correct, there is no example of a working pure socialist country. By the same token, there is also no example of a working pure capitalist county.

          It's the "pure" part that's the problem. Mongrel is the way to do... a mix of the best aspects of capitalism, socialism, and whatever other -isms you have laying around.

    4. codejunky Silver badge

      @ RobertLongshaft

      "You have absolutely no right what so ever to tell Jeff Bezos what to spend his money on"

      I started writing something like this but figured it was pointless when it is one of the 'approved' targets of hatred Amazon. The part where the article complains about not paying higher wages or tax seems to ignore the investing it in jobs and paying tax (aka blowing it on another project).

      I can only assume the writer doesnt use Amazon as its low prices are achieved by reducing costs. If enough people dont use Amazon for that reason (maybe shopping elsewhere instead) then Amazon will change its practices. But crying the guy isnt paying enough in wages or tax while writing that he is investing in R&D which has its own wage and tax costs is amazing.

    5. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Why not just title this article Capitalism is evil and socialism is great?

      The you could just ignore the 100m bodies socialism created in the 20th century while hypocritically avoiding paying tax like most socialists.

      Point one - You have absolutely no right what so ever to tell Jeff Bezos what to spend his money on. He was out in the world earning it while you were smoking bongs and watching countdown all day during your worthless media degree.

      Point two - Jeff Bezos has created over 500,000 jobs, probably hundreds if not thousands of millionaires, remind me again how many millionaires you and your clown marxist friends have created? None? How many jobs have you created? None?

      It is not a question of whether Socialism or Capitalism is evil, it is a question of what should the limits of both. While extreme socialism is considered bad in the form of communism, at what point should we limit Capitalism, through either taxes or legislation.

      When a firm and there owner reach a point that they can influence the entire political system to their own interests purely by threatening to withdraw resources, then it is not a good state to be in and some limit should be enforced

      Point 1: However rich Jeff is, he is still a citizen and should be beholden to the same restrictions as any citizen. If Jeff decided to create a nuclear arsenal, I think you woulds agree we would have a right to step in. However the bigger question is how much of that wealth Jeff has accumulated should the governments of the world expect to come their way and so to point 2

      Point 2: Yes Jeff created many jobs. However those have often come at the expense of many others. It would be more accurate to say Jeff has managed to divert many jobs to amazon. However none of this is done in a vacuum. Amazon would be nothing without the road infrastructure, schooling, telecoms and other public services that Amazon is built on. Therefore it is only fair to expect that Amazon and Jeff pay towards supporting those.

      It is not a fact that Jeff is a billionaire that is in question. The issue is whether is there a limit to how much wealth one man can accumulate. If no, then we go down the road of naked capitalism, where the only measure is how much something is worth, and the measure of a man is only how big their bank balance is. That's not a world I wish to live in, thank you very much

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        This is a brilliant response. I wish to expand a little on this part:

        "Amazon would be nothing without the road infrastructure, schooling, telecoms and other public services that Amazon is built on."

        It is a despicable tradition among a certain segment of Americans to ignore this fact. It's part of the myth of the "self-made man". There is, of course, no such thing. As you point out, nobody's success comes in a vacuum or without the overt support, financially and materially, of the society they live in.

    6. JohnFen Silver badge

      "You have absolutely no right what so ever to tell Jeff Bezos what to spend his money on."

      Actually, I have every right to do just that. And Bezos has every right to ignore me.

      But, even more importantly, I have every right to hold the opinion that someone's actions may be ethically questionable and to treat them accordingly.

    7. Mark 85 Silver badge

      This really has nothing to do with "left" "right" or even politics. It has to do with being human, both the good and bad side. If you can' see beyond that, then there's a problem and it's not those of us who can.

  25. Flywheel Silver badge
    WTF?

    He's addressing his employees' timekeeping issues...

    ...by building a $42 million clock that "ticks" once a year - winner!!

  26. Clowns2LeftJokers2Right

    It all seems so futile

    To be honest it all feels a little futile. The challenges to colonising space are beyond our capabilities I think. Imagine how difficult it would be to create a colony the size of even a small city on Mars. We would need a planet that is already inhabitable and they are not even reachable.

    As for saving an over-populated planet by eradicating death due to diseases, whilst the intent is noble, the effect will be to increase the rate of the death spiral we seem to be in.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: It all seems so futile

      Well, here's the thing: neither Elon Musk nor Jeff Bazos agree with you.

      You do know what SpaceX's goal is, right? 1,000,000 people living on Mars?

      Neither SpaceX nor Blue Horizon exist because someone wanted to launch rockets. BOTH of them are around because they have identified a goal, and the goal is to make humanity a multi-planetary species.

      It isn't very likely to happen in either of their lifetime. But it's possibly at right around what Japanese companies call the "medium term" goal... 50 years or so.

      The SpaceX plan calls for the Neil Armstrong of Mars to land in February 2027 (it was Jan 2025, but they slipped an opposition).

      And they are serious about this: the last major Falcon 9 model (the Block 5) lights its engines for the pre-launch hot-fire test tomorrow.

      Meanwhile, all this anti-Bezos ranting has missed a key fact: guess who makes the engine that NASA likes best for the upper stage of *their* new big rocket?

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: It all seems so futile

      To be honest it all feels a little futile. The challenges to colonising space are beyond our capabilities I think.

      Today, sure, but then 200 years ago the telegraph hadn't beeninvented so communicating with China meant sending a letter on a slow boat. Today I can video conference in high definition wihtout ever leaving my sofa.desk.

      Land transport was limited to a few horsepower (literally), but today for not a lot of money I can buy a 2nd hand car with 500 horsepower and be in Italy for dinner.

      Travelling to South America would have been a long arduous voyage that not all passengers would reasonably be expected to survive. I can leave now and hop on a plane and be there tonight.

      Nothing has been achieved without incremental advancement, and colonising space can only possibly be brought about in the same manner.

  27. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Some other options

    Dear Mr Bezo's

    Some ideas on what you could do with your money

    1. create 183,000 scholarships to allow disadvantaged (probably your employees ) to go to university and create the engineers and doctors of the future

    2. Build and repair 183,000 schools and hospitals

    3. Build sustainable public transport systems in 183 places where people struggle to get to work

    4. Add solar cells to 183000000 houses or public buildings

    5. Clean up the pollution in towns like Flint Michigan

    Of course none of these are as sexy as adding your name to a giant phallus and launching it into space, but in the end they will have longer lasting effects

  28. Semianonymous Megacoward

    The money is spent on Earth

    Poor working conditions at Amazon are well known -- is the same is true of Blue Origin?

    The money is, after all, being spent on Earth, and is buying groceries and making house payments for the engineers, machinists, managers, and many others employed to make the rockets go up.

  29. Semianonymous Megacoward

    The money is spent on Earth

    Amazon's difficult working environment is well-known. Is the same true of Blue Origin?

    The money is being spent on this planet and is buying groceries and making house payments for the engineers, machinists, managers, and others employed at Blue Origin. Are they being pushed as hard as Amazon employees? If they are, then how the money is distributed between companies is a bit of a wash. If they're not, then there's an even stronger argument for the editorial's thesis.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The money is spent on Earth

      Which one provides a greater good?

  30. elawyn

    I'd like to see the money spent on finding out of the way places (preferably islands thousands of miles from the mainland) and resettling climate-change deniers, anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, anti-abortionists and other such dregs of society there.

  31. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

    Winning HQ2 may not be a win

    Won't the residents of the state that gets HQ2 have to start paying state sales tax on their Amazon purchases, as Amazon will have a business presence in that state?

    For the state that might be great - lots of extra tax revenue (possibly enough to offset the credits given to land HQ2), but for the residents of the state everything on Amazon gets more expensive.

    Shoot, Amazon even makes more money in that situation, as they get to hold the tax revenues between collection and payment to the state.

  32. LucreLout Silver badge

    Another economically illterate article....

    ... how El Reg has fallen. And how it continues to sink.

    "I am very lucky that I feel like I have a mission-driven purpose with Blue Origin that is, I think, incredibly important for civilization long term. And I am going to use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that."

    Ok, so which part of this precisely does the author disagree with?

    "What he neglected to mention was that German workers are paid so well because they held multiple strikes to force Amazon to actually pay a decent wage, and were supported by strong national employment laws that allowed them to do so."

    If as the author posits, unions are the key to being well paid and driving an economy forward, can he explain how the 1970s were not the golden age of the British economy, what the phrase "Sick man of Europe" means in relation to the British economy, and what it was changed that made the 1980s one of the greatest economic periods in British history?

    Your humble hack can't put it any other way. Wages in Amazon's warehouses, and in its other facilities, are low.

    Well, yes, because its literally unstacking shelves. That type of work, which I have done myself previously, is never well paid by any employer in any city. Why Because the staff can be replaced in a day, and after a week they cease to become materially better at their job than a new starter. Sorry, but that is what warehouse work is.

    Several large companies, including Walmart, are infamous for paying wages so low that the taxpayer sometimes has to fill in the gap.

    And why does that state arise? It occurrs because the welfare system tries to bridge the gap between dependence on welfare and the world of work. The overlap can be removed at a stroke, but not without creating a significant disincentive to work. Take this job and keep some benefits (16 hours in the UK), or do nothing and keep them all.

    And no doubt someone will chime in to say that if Amazon pays more in taxes and wages then its prices will rise and everyone loses, and obviously this is a moronic train of thought.

    You think its moronic because you don't understand economics very well and because this little factoid undermines your entire screed.

    You can't spend a dollar twice. If you spend an extra dollar on taxes you can;t spend it on R&D, wages, or business expansion that brings in more dollars. So unless you want to hamper your future growth, you need to minimise the amount of dead money you throw into the tax pit and maximise the amount of R&D you do, which is how come Amazon has been a success.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Another economically illterate article....

      You miss the point about poverty wages

      If you have to use welfare payments to bring worker wages upto a level where they can

      A Rent a home

      B pay for food

      C pay to get to work

      Then they are not getting a fair wage, and its even less fair to raise MY taxes in order to pay for the welfare , especially when the company is rich enough to pay a decent wage in the first place (plus I might want my tax money to go on things like the NHS/roads/etc)

      "But people can live on the min wage" comes back the bleat

      If you're prepared to live 2-3(or more) to a room in communal house with no hope of ever escaping that life, you can live nicely on the min wage

      As for the tax dodging...... he who pays the piper calls the tune.... and if your politicians can be bought and sold that easily, perhaps its time to change the system....

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Another economically illterate article....

        Then they are not getting a fair wage

        Ahh, bleating about fairness. The first fall back of the economically illiterate. Ok, define fair. Then explain why everyone else should use your definition of fair rather than their own.

        its even less fair to raise MY taxes in order to pay for the welfare

        Ok, so you don't like paying taxes to find welfare, but you expect someone else to. Is that what you mean by fair? Because I'm fairly sure the dictionary defines that as hypocritical, not fair.

        I might want my tax money to go on things like the NHS/roads/etc

        You don't get to choose where taxes get spent. It's part of the moral hazard of paying them. Some people want to deprive the military of funding and spend it all on adminstration in the NHS. Some people want to fund the military so the staff don't get killed defending the country in preference to paying someone more to do a job that arguably doesn't need doing such as most middle manager roles.

        "But people can live on the min wage" comes back the bleat

        If you can't live on £16k then you aren't trying. If you want a better standard of living you need to get a better job. A better education has historically been key to that. Fucking about in school instead of knuckling down and learning has consequences, some of which are life long; those people don't deserve pity because they chose their life. Actions have consequences; they just do.

        If you're prepared to live 2-3(or more) to a room in communal house with no hope of ever escaping that life, you can live nicely on the min wage

        What diseased fantasy is this? Most people on minimum wage do not live 2 or 3 to a room. Provide a citation or accept that you're shitting your feelings all over the internet instead of forming a coherent position using facts.

        As for the tax dodging...... he who pays the piper calls the tune.... and if your politicians can be bought and sold that easily, perhaps its time to change the system....

        Change the system to what exactly? And what evidence have you that it would be a better system? We've already forever more ruled out any form of communism or socialism - they have failed literally everywhere they've ever been tried. There are no successful socialist countries and no successfull communist ones either (yes, I have been to China and their brand of capitalism makes ours look like a fluffy pet bunny).

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Another economically illterate article....

          what a complete pile of horse shit....

          I'll pull one quote out

          " A better education has historically been key to that. Fucking about in school instead of knuckling down and learning has consequences, some of which are life long; those people don't deserve pity because they chose their life. ."

          I work with min wage people...... most are unqualified, they are not unqualified and uneducated because they fucked about at school, they are what they are because they are not suited to an academic type life, dropping well below the mean intelligence level, but they can work hard and do a good job (ok 1 does'nt but hey ho)

          Does that mean they should be doomed to a min wage life with welfare payments on top?

          or unemployment with more welfare?

          And what happens when your lack of pity for those caught in a dire situation comes back to bite you.... either when the poor unemployed min wagers rise up and take everything that is yours or if circumstances such as ill health or unemployment force you down to their level.....

          Boris

          <<has been poor, ill and unemployed before

      2. JimJimmyJimson

        Re: Another economically illterate article....

        A job is only worth so much - if the cost of employing a worker is greater than the value that a company derives from that job then its not sustainable. Its not an employers job to overpay their worker. Minimum wage makes this worse. It provides an incentive to not employ anyone who is worth less than the minimum wage. Which is why Australian macdonalds now employ fewer staff to take orders and use a machine instead....

        A company is not a charity. And this is only going to get worse - more jobs will be replaced by automation. This is not the employers fault - this is employees failing to obtain valuable skills.

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Another economically illterate article....

      @LucreLout

      My god...I agreed with that.

  33. Zwuramunga

    The Waste

    Governments just waste most tax money. No reason to waste even more resources on governments.

  34. imanidiot Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Sometimes I get the feeling these rich a**holes are just building an escape vehicle so they can have a vacation on the moon or mars when WW3 breaks out. It's not about saving humanity, it's about saving their own ass.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He should take some lessons from Warren Buffett - you can’t take it with you...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay More Tax

    It makes more sense to shoot it into space.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Pay More Tax

      Well, quite.

      Who would you trust to spend the money ear-marked for tax?

      (A) some bunch of rando knobs whose "talent" is getting elected by deciet? or

      (B) yourself?

      I doubt there are many or us who think (A) is a better choice than (B)!

      Meanwhile, a chunk of that dosh you pay some engineer to design a better rocket motor is going to... taxes.

  37. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

    I could do with some of that cash

    Don;t worry, I’d work for it on some worthy project.

    But it would give me an income to support myself rather than rotting on the dole when my current employment comes to an end.

  38. Edwin

    Scott Adams saw this coming 15 years ago...

    http://dilbert.com/strip/2002-10-10/

    'nuff said

  39. Smoking Gun

    This article leaves me on the fence.

    It's an incredible goal to ensure that humanity becomes a multi-planetary species.

    Who else is going to fund such an objective? Governments are in debt to the hilt and can barely afford to fill holes in roads let alone build a colony on another planet.

    Corps like Amazon on the other hand (lump in Microsoft, Google, Facebook) have such vast resources now, the amount of cash they earn in obscene, I'd rather it go to something brave like propelling humanity into space than squandered on wars or vanity projects. At least if you spunk cash on space, it creates new economies and supply chains that need to fulfill the vision

    Now, if they paid a fair share in tax, and truly returned some of this profit to their employees then I'd been full steam ahead, but that tax shirk is quite impressive and a dismal failure of government standing up to the big corporate business, so I'm not in the "lets spunk cash in space club, just yet" and still in the "capitalism is out of control and needs reigning in club".

  40. aaaashy

    bezos is an utter shit

  41. Matthew 17

    I'm with Bezos

    Sure he might be a bit of a twat and perhaps not the nicest person to work for but he's one of only a handful of people who have the means to do something truly different. Governments are full of lawyers and accountants they don't innovate or do anything that can push us forward. They take credit when good things happen despite them and defer blame when things go wrong. Space only happened at all to find a way to spy on other countries or to make them think you could drop bombs from orbit. No strategy was ever aligned with a clear goal of making things better. Every few years they change their minds about what they're doing next and spend ever more $billions achieving little. Your Bezos and your Musks maybe children but they're trying to create a legacy of innovation. There's a very finite amount of resources on this planet, the rare metals and minerals that are required to power and make the things we like, all of that stuff is in essentially infinite supply in the Solar System, there's all the minerals, metals, hydrocarbons you could ever want, it would be impossible to use them all as the Sun will have long destroyed the whole system long before you could make a scratch. You can't pollute space, there's no life there to displace, you could have a world where all mining comes from space. That would be transformative to life here, if those technologies are developed they could snowball into real Star Trek type stuff. You'd never get governments to do something like that as they have to spend money on other things so that the masses keep them in power. Private companies / individuals have no such burdens and can therefore change the world. The next 100+ years could either be amazing or just more of the same humdrum. I'm glad we have the likes of Musk and Bezos and wish them every success, the scope of what's possible is beyond measure.

  42. RobertLongshaft

    My heart is warmed by the anti socialist content in these comments. My faith in humanity, if only slightly, restored.

    Socialism is evil.

  43. steward
    Black Helicopters

    If he can get a colony established on Mars...

    I'm sure he's already planning to send all the homeless there. <sarc>Just think, he'd be giving them a whole planet!</sarc>

  44. FIA

    What he neglected to mention was that German workers are paid so well because they held multiple strikes to force Amazon to actually pay a decent wage, and were supported by strong national employment laws that allowed them to do so.

    I've highlighted the important bit.

    Asking most people to give up money (be they rich or not) is often a dead end. Society as a whole has to agree.

    Mind you, how you effect this change when many of the rich are also in power is beyond me.

  45. This post has been deleted by its author

  46. Brian Allan 1

    Hard to blame Bezos for being rich and paying little tax and low employee wages. Sounds like a government problem to me. Simply compare Germany and the USA, and you'll see the reason why!

  47. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Right said Jeff

    Jeff Bezos as Richard Fairbrass...

    I've got way too much cash

    I've got way too much cash

    I've got way too much cash

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A living wage...

    Look, no disrespect to Mr. Bezos--because he ran his company well and should be rewarded for those efforts, but he certainly doesn't deserve what he got.

    The human brain simply cannot wrap itself around numbers as big as his bank account. If he liquidated all his asset, he could literally afford to pay everyone in the world $15, and still have more money than Elon Musk and George Lucas combined!

    People who that think if their household makes more than a $250k a year, that they're actually part of the 1% are so naive that it's precious. Those folks in that pay bracket are doing well, sure--but they aren't even close to being in the three comma club.

    There are 2,200 members of the three comma club, and you've never heard of most of them:

    https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/49/#version:realtime

    To give some perspective, the median income in the world is somewhere under $10,000 and everyone on that list is worth at least 100,000x that.

    Hell, even millionaires are still considered part of the middle class in the United States!

    Seriously, wake up folks--get over yourselves and you measly 6 figure salaries! These people do not care about you and they never will! Stop voting for their best interests, and start worrying about your own!

  49. peterm3
    Go

    The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists

    I recommend the above work by Robert Tressell

  50. Neon Teepee
    Joke

    Bezos innnnn spaaaaaaaaaaace

    For the really old among you (alright among us)

  51. Grinning Bandicoot

    Entrepreneurship Hizaah

    Since I had read Heinlein's 'Man who sold the Moon' I've been the type that believed that it would take a similar entrepreneur to get man looking and going outward. The funds spent in development of his project are spent on the ground to people that had practiced delayed gratification in LEARNING. And as far as Seattle's homeless problem the more that has been done to shelter and more that appear. The US has a active underground news service that offer advice on where and how to beat the system. Seattle nor any where else will never under a free culture not have homeless because some people do not want to follow shelter rules. Mandated internal personal passports with compulsory assigned housing with job movement only by official permission and the problem will go away. Oh wait! I think that was done and the participants didn't like it. TANSTAAFL

    In the Monty Python collection there is a line about the effects of wealth distribution as the Uppers are in rags and the proles have the finery. I am of the opinion that anyone who will pay $2.50 for a cup of coffee has more disposable income than necessary and some should be transferred to me so that i can get a Cayenne though if I want to avoid snow I'll go with a Maybach - tis fair 'cause I aint got the bucks to spend on high test coffee.

    A problem with taxes that the guy with few a million or two can afford and really must have an accountant and tax lawyer to complete the forms. The guy with a few thousand cannot afford the high priced labor to complete the taxes and as a consequence is unable to find and use the various tax deductions.

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