As the rest of the country struggled to pay their mortgages, had their businesses shut down, and descended into poverty, COVID-19 for the super rich was a record setting windfall. Four of the most controversial billionaires on the planet, saw their wealth increase by over a combined $100 billion in less than a year. One of those controversial billionaires was Jeff Bezos, who watched his portfolio increase by $70 billion to $186 billion — making him the richest person in the world.
So, what does a person with $186 billion in assets need? Well, apparently, they need another $10 billion — from the United States taxpayers. Seriously.
Last month, Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, lost its bid for a major NASA contract to Elon Musk’s Space X. Instead of simply taking the loss, someone or some group of lobbyists from Team Bezos, convinced the Senate to create an entirely new second contract.
The Endless Frontier Act is being debated on the Senate floor this week. The bill is touted as a means of strengthening the nation’s science and technology sector as well as research and development, all to help the country compete with China.
The bill has been amended several times, some of which included a now-failed amendment “to prohibit certain types of human-animal chimeras.” On top the the animal human-hybrid amendment, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, added to the legislation, language that will hand over $10 billion to NASA, which, according to the Intercept, will end up in the hands of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
Not surprisingly, Bezos’ Blue Origin is headquartered in Cantwell’s home state. Imagine that.
Giving $10 billion in taxpayer dollars to a company owned by the world’s richest man, isn’t boding well with many folks and has drawn the ire of Bernie Sanders.
“It does not make a lot of sense to me that we would provide billions of dollars to a company owned by the wealthiest guy in America,” Sanders told The Intercept Tuesday.
We have to agree.
According to the Intercept:
The Bezos space company had been competing against SpaceX for a contract to put astronauts on the moon, the first such trips since 1972, but lost the bidding process with a price tag twice that of SpaceX. NASA announced the award to the Elon Musk-owned company last month.
Cantwell’s measure wouldn’t rescind the grant to SpaceX but would create an additional contract that Bezos’s company would be in line to win. A third company, Dynetics, had also bid for the moonshot, but the author of the new amendment offers a strong suggestion of which company it’s likely to benefit.
Cantwell told NASA’s incoming administrator, former Sen. Bill Nelson, that she was surprised at the way the award unfolded, before introducing the legislation to add a new one.
“I think there needs to be redundancy,” or multiple contractors in case one fails, she told Nelson at his confirmation hearing. “And it has to be clear this process can’t be redundancy later. It has to be redundancy now.”
The idea of giving $10 billion in taxpayer dollars to a company owned by the richest man on the planet during this country’s unprecedented decline over the last year seems like something out of a Hollywood dark comedy but this is real life and actually par for the course in the land of the free.
It is no secret that Bezos’ Amazon has reached its monopoly-esque status because of its cozy relationship with the United States government and now, Blue Origin is applying the same privilege. Because Amazon receives special privileges that are not available to all business owners, they have an unfair advantage in the market which allows them to easily snub out their competition who is forced to abide by the rules.
Giving $10,000,000,000 of our tax dollars to Bezos right now is a perfect example of this special privilege and not playing by any set of rules available to the common man.
Why on Earth (literally) are we trying to spend tens of billions to go to the moon when homelessness, childhood hunger, and unemployment are at record highs? Thanks to the state’s reaction to COVID-19, hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country have closed their doors. In states with the strictest lockdown measures, like New York and California, some estimates show upwards of 60% of small business closed their doors—forever.
Unfortunately this continues to happen thanks in part to a lot of confusion about how these companies function. When the topic of the ultra-rich controlling elite is brought up, most of the time the free market gets the blame. But most of these opinions fail to take the role of the state into consideration. Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars flowing to Jeff Bezos is not the free market at all.
As Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, David Cay Johnson, pointed out, the result of such a government system are,
“policies that take from the many and redistribute to the already rich few through stealth techniques that rarely make the news but can be found in the public record. Among these policies are a failure to enforce the laws of business competition, severe restrictions on unions and subsidies galore for big companies.”
“Such massive inequality reflects not market economics but political influence that tilts the economic playing field, and because of their political influence, those at the very top get tax favors, especially the deferral of taxes into the distant future, which transforms the burden of taxes into a bonanza of increased profits.”
This is why Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and other elite billionaires all took in massive profits over the last year. It wasn’t because of a free market. It was because the US government and their corporate overlords work night and day to make sure there is no such thing as a free market.