When I Thought I Couldn’t Despise Jeff Bezos More, Coronavirus Happened.

The global pandemic has reminded me why the Amazon CEO represents everything wrong with the American economy.

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Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

In the span of just a few weeks, over 30 million people have been forced to file for unemployment due to the economic impact of the coronavirus. While small businesses shut their doors, unemployment websites crash, and a significant number of elected officials seem to think their measly one time checks of $1200 dollars are sufficient to get us through this, there’s no denying that the web of trauma this virus is inflicting only seems to grow wider and more elaborate by the day. But of course, there are a handful of people and companies that are thriving under these devastating circumstances, and unsurprisingly the CEO of Amazon happens to be one of them.

Just when I thought I couldn’t despise Jeff Bezos more than I already do I stumbled across a Bloomberg article, detailing how the global pandemic has affected the wealth of some of the world’s richest individuals and families.

In it Sophie Alexander, Tom Maloney, and Tom Metcalf write:

“…Leading the group is Bezos, who has added almost $24 billion to his fortune in 2020, as well as MacKenzie Bezos, who was left with a 4% stake in Amazon as part of the couple’s recent divorce settlement. Her net worth has climbed $8.2 billion to $45.3 billion, and she’s now №18 on the Bloomberg wealth ranking, ahead of Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest person, and Mexico’s Carlos Slim…”

At a moment when there are countless people across the country lining up for food banks, wondering where their next meal is going to come from, the CEO of one of the most profitable companies on earth that doesn’t pay a penny in profits added $24 billion dollars on top of his astronomical wealth. $24 billion dollars richer at a time when his workers are being forced to organize a strike in order to have their their basic demands met for health and protection in the midst of a global pandemic.

It should go without saying that this is not sustainable.

Jeff Bezos did not work $24 billion dollars harder than the employees coming to work every single day in to the confined warehouses. Employees who put the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families on the line in order to meet the ever increasing demand as millions of people do their best to stay home. I’m not sure one could even put in to words the level of disgust I feel at the thought that Bezos is profiting off of the plight of working and middle class Americans all across the country, and exploiting his workers in order to do it. What else should we call it when they are forced to fight for the bare minimum?

Aside from all of that, Bezo’s capitalization off of this pandemic is an ominous sign of what is to come.

When I drive down the Main Street of my little northern New York town, I know that when all is said and done the place will be unrecognizable. The small businesses that have brought all the charm, character, and jobs to this town will be gone, and all we will have left is Amazon and the Walmart ten miles down the road. It’s difficult not to wonder what is going to happen to my community, and the future of the American economy overall. The notion that one man and his company can dominate the entire market should disturb us all, and if something doesn’t change course soon, that is the direction we are headed in.

But as the unrest grows, and we see the anger being directed at governors who have shut down their states in order to keep their workers safe, the naive optimist in me tends to hope that we might be able to persuade the anger of these protestors where it ought to be. The question is will that happen before it’s too late.

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