As the world as we know it comes to a quicker-than-expected end, with much of Australia caught up in wildfires that climate change did not start, but are unquestionably making worse, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is getting roundly toasted for his announcement that the company with the too-ironic name will be donating roughly $690,000 to Australia to help combat the ongoing fires.
The problem? Jeff Bezos is worth over $110 billion. Amazon is not just insanely profitable (thanks in part to worker conditions and business practices that are doing to the American workforce what mankind is doing to its namesake rain forest), but economy-bendingly, history-changingly successful.
The amount of $690,000, or One Million Australian Dollars, is the equivalent of Jeff Bezos sneezing pocket change out his nose and using Australia’s sleeve to wipe it up. It is the Amazon equivalent of sending a Hallmark card. By all means, charity is good and Amazon and other mega-corporations contributing anything to anyone is also good, but if the message was big corporations will take care of this it came off a bit more as big corporations will do the bare minimum required to get a momentary publicity hit.
By way of context, what Amazon, King of All Retailers, is spending to combat Australian fires is roughly on par with the money raised by a single California woman trading nudes for fire donations.
It is also on par with the $516,000 donation toward fighting Australian wildfires pledged by Metallica and a $1 million donation by Elton John.
Amazon may be attempting to make a public statement, but its CEO famously spent $250 million buying his own newspaper. So $690,000 won’t buy you a boat that most of the world’s billionaires would be caught dead on. Hell, $690,000 won’t even buy you a Silicon Valley house.
People can’t help but draw conclusions. A good one to draw might be “The charity of the top 0.1 percent and of corporations both are vastly overstated and not even fractionally as useful as simply taxing them at the same effective rate as the rest of us pay, so maybe we should get on with that already.”
I know, I know: That’s why Michael Bloomberg is now in the race, because far, far too many people were piping up with notions like that. What were we thinking.
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