Amazon gazillionaire Jeff Bezos is having his company give ONE MILLION DOLLARS to help fight the bushfires in Australia, but is he getting the love and gratitude he so clearly deserves? Heck nah! For one thing, it's a million Australian dollars, which comes to far less in money money, about $690,00 US. And then there's the amount of the donation compared to where it's coming from, as Vice explains:
To put this number in perspective, Bezos is worth $116,000,000,000; the figure is equal to .00059 percent of his net worth. It is the equivalent of someone worth $50,000 donating 29 cents. Of course, it's not even Bezos's money. It's Amazon's money. Amazon's current market cap is $933,670,000,000. $690,000 is .000073 percent of $933.67 billion, which means that the donation hurts Amazon's bottom line as much as it would hurt a person worth $50,000 to donate three cents.
So yes, it's a big donation that dwarfs the annual income of most people But for Bezos and Amazon, it's the change that fell down behind the couch cushions while they were looking for the bigger change that had already fallen there. Also too, Amazon's webpage about the donation notes that the donation is only partly in cash; some of it comes from Bezos's biggest profit source, "in-kind technical support for many of the government agencies dealing with the response and recovery efforts." [Editrix: This is sort of like the local grocery store owner -- and state politician -- who gives the food bank Shy volunteers at a store credit every year as his donation, while all his employees are food bank clients. JUST SAYING.]
Reactions have been mixed. Many people are pointing out that Bezos is giving away roughly three to five minutes' worth of the money he makes daily. Others point out that merely very rich celebrities have actually given more money -- including an Instagram lady who, like Jeff Bezos, has nekkid pictures. But there are also some billionaire-lovers (who are certain they're just a few tax cuts away from vast riches themselves) who can't believe you socialists would criticize Bezos.
It's getting to where the richest guy in the world can't do a nice thing that hardly costs him anything at all without people pointing out he's the richest guy in the world and it's costing him hardly anything at all.
Critics of the Amazon donation aren't merely telling the world they're a bunch of losers who are jealous of someone who's made something of himself, unlike them. They also point out that Amazon didn't pay anything in US taxes on its $11.2 billion in profits for 2018. (Thanks to credits and paying executives in stock, not cash, Amazon actually received $129 million from US taxpayers.) But that's simply because Amazon can be a job creator for clever attorneys and accountants who know how to exploit the tax code's neat loopholes and giveaways to job creators. Besides, those attorneys and accountants do quite well for themselves, and probably tip sometimes when they go to dinner, so don't you go mocking trickle-down economics. Even in Australia, where sometimes the rich actually pay taxes, Amazon in 2018 only paid about $20 million in funny Australian dollars, on over a billion in revenue.
Beyond that, there's also Amazon's lousy carbon footprint, which is bigger than a lot of its competitors (although Walmart, with its brick and mortar stores, creates more emissions). And no matter how much rightwing sources may deny it, Australia's fires have been made much, much worse due to climate change.
Amazon's emissions exceed the reported totals of United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. as well as Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Target Corp. in data compiled by CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project. Amazon's total is 38% less than rival Walmart, the group said.
"It's a big number," said Bruno Sarda, president of CDP North America, adding that Amazon's emissions compare to a large power company. "They probably wouldn't make the top 50, but when you look at what's up there, it's mostly all the large fossil fuel companies."
Amazon's fast "free" shipping is a Prime contributor to those emissions, as are the huge server farms needed to power the company's giant data operation. Amazon Web Services accounts for about 71 percent of the company's overall profits, although it's sort of invisible to most people. To its credit, Amazon has indeed pledged to sharply cut its emissions, with a goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity worldwide from clean sources by 2030, and reaching net zero carbon emissions for all purposes by 2040, which is better than the Paris climate agreement goals for the world (which are also insufficient, but whatevs).
But Amazon continues to do lots of business with oil and gas companies, and has lately threatened to fire employees calling on them to drop those dirty clients and otherwise clean up its act.
The real scandal, of course, isn't that Jeff Bezos, with his paltry cube-shaped wombat turd of a donation, hasn't committed a big enough donation to help with the problem his company contributes to. It's that we let billionaires exploit the tax code to amass those billions in the first place and pretend their generosity somehow makes up for all they've extracted. If Amazon and other megacorporations paid anything like their fair share in taxes, and if the world's biggest polluters hadn't spent decades blocking action on climate, we wouldn't be complaining about Amazon's puny donation in the first place.
Incidentally, since the corporation has the same name as another of last year's environmental disaster zones, it's worth noting that at this point, the fires in Australia have now burned double the area as last summer's fires in the Amazon rain forest. So that, too, is a very large number.
[Vice / Bloomberg / WaPo / Buzzfeed News / Earther / Guardian / Wonkette photoshoop based on images by Australian government and Steve Jurvetson, Creative Commons license 2.0]
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