Oooof, that dystopia-induced writers block is real. That recent heatwave didn’t help either, nor did the fact that I spent the last few months moving.
And those are just distractions from my personal life. There are plenty of other distractions, many of which are somehow both very serious and incredibly stupid at the same time.
For one thing, House and Senate Republicans are desperately trying to lie about the thing in January that we all saw unfold in real time. I’d make a joke about how out of touch they are, but I think the awful truth is that they know full well what they did and are just trying to gaslight the nation into accepting it as normal.
Oh, and I could also do without the hordes of mediocre assholes talking shit about Simone Biles.
But no amount of distractions can keep me from writing about Bezos and his penis rocket- I mean……
…..Well no, that’s definitely a penis rocket. I’d post a picture, but then I’d have to blur it. This isn’t that kind of blog.
Even though the Bezos story is ancient history by our 24 news-cycle standards, I find that I can’t quite let it go. I do find space exploration genuinely fascinating, and I certainly won’t complain if any data from the project turns out to be useful.
But the media fawning and lack of difficult questions aimed at Bezos himself have left me a little queasy, and so here we are.
If you, dear reader, are starting to wonder why I’m not gushing about the AWE and WONDER of Blue Penis- I mean, Penis Origin- I mean, giant penis rocket, well, let me remind you that humanity has already traveled to low orbit (and beyond!) many, many times. The tech behind this rocket might be neat, but the project isn’t exactly the gushing fountain of innovation that some of the PR materials suggest.
And there’s another problem that hits closer to home: Bezos using his wealth to catapult himself into low orbit doesn’t change the fact that much of his wealth isn’t really his at all.
I’ve written about this before, but Amazon, like many other retailers, has actually relied quite a bit on food stamps and government subsidies in the past. This is especially awkward, given that Bezos, like many of his peers, likes to evade paying what he owes in taxes. Also relevant here is that his parents invested almost 250,000$ dollars in Amazon in 1995. While I can’t fault parents for wanting to support their kid, that’s not a startup package that most American entrepreneurs have access to.
In other words, unless you’re a rich kid with questionable morals, you will never be Jeff Bezos. Regardless of your work ethic, skills, and tolerance for needlessly wordy emails during group projects, the deck is stacked against you becoming a billionaire.
And just to be clear- this doesn’t necessarily mean you will never be successful, or that you shouldn’t chase your dreams. You can still accumulate plenty of wealth WITHOUT owning your own functional spaceship, and you can still build a successful business WITHOUT denying your employees pee breaks.
And your business doesn’t have to rake in billions for you to be happy and successful- more income will make you happier to an extent, but the effect seems to taper off once the individual has secured enough for the basics and a little extra.
In other words, accumulating billions of dollars for oneself is largely a pointless endeavor. And yet, we glorify it. Why?
This is an important question to ponder, because far too many Americans make excuses for people like Bezos. We all want to believe that, someday, we can embark on an expensive vanity project that wows reporters into ignoring our tax dodging antics.
I also suspect that there might be an unconscious (or very conscious indeed) desire for a savior at play here. The future looks a bit scary right now, and the thought of one person “fixing” everything at once is actually rather appealing, if you don’t think about it too hard.
The thing is, we’ve tried that. Multiple times. Quite a bit of blood was shed in the last five hundred years in order to escape the divine right of kings, in case you’ve forgotten literally every history class you’ve ever had.
So be glad you’re not Jeff Bezos. The world really doesn’t need any more of those.