Jeff Bezos is the most reptilian of billionaires. His heart has never shown evidence of a drop of warm blood. Despite all of the public relations that money can buy, his discomfort with normal human emotion shines through every time he is forced to contort his face into a squinting, uncomfortable smile. It seems overwhelmingly likely that once he gets to space, he will peel back the skin from his bald pate like the creatures in V and exclaim to his fellow aliens: “I’m here!”
Few men in history have been able to match his icy ability to simultaneously accumulate grotesque mountains of wealth while showing no impulse to even pretend to have an obligation to the greater good. A century ago, Andrew Carnegie hired private armies to smash and shoot his employees when they went on strike. Yet he also had the good sense to build a bunch of public libraries, to create the appearance of some redeeming qualities. Bezos, thus far, has nothing on the humanitarian side of his ledger. His logistics-addled brain has never been able to process the kindergarten concept “To whom much is given, much is required”. In the space of a single year, his ex-wife has become an infinitely greater philanthropist than Bezos himself has in the past quarter century. This is a conclusive demonstration of the fact that if you want the Bezos fortune to do any good, the first thing you must do is to take it away from Jeff Bezos.
The most revealing quote from any rich person in the past decade came out of Bezos’ mouth in 2018, when he told an interviewer: “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it.” I admire the honesty of the sheer inhumanity this quote displays. What would you do with $200bn? Cure diseases? End hunger? Eradicate poverty in an entire nation? Nah. Build a bunch of space rockets! I simply can’t see any other way to get all of these cumbersome gold bars out of my personal vault.
This, from a man who has bulletproof glass in his office and a seven-figure tab for personal security, seems rather disingenuous – I’m sure that leaving all that cash piled up in an unlocked room open to the public would get rid of it quite efficiently. Imagining Bezos as a lizard person incapable of feeling human emotion is actually the most generous interpretation of his behavior. His true motivations, I’m afraid, are more sinister.
Extremely rich people, as a rule, have come to believe that everything is for sale. The one thing they cannot accept is being told that they cannot buy something. And once you’ve bought everything else, the most alluring prize is life itself. This is why billionaires are so obsessed with funding technology to extend their own lifespans. It’s difficult to spend all those billions in only a hundred years on Earth. Why give your fortune to others when you could instead increase the amount of time that you have to luxuriate in your own revolting wealth, a brain in a vat being endlessly stimulated by an army of servants who exist only for your own all-important pleasure?
It is not a coincidence that the richest people in America are funding a new space race. They are not motivated by a love of technology, or even a belief in the universe as a business opportunity. Let’s call this what it is: they are making plans to get the hell out of here. In the same way that every good billionaire has an armored escape room in each home and a helicopter on call to whisk them away from any sinking yacht, so too do they expect to have a way off Earth if things go bad here. It may sound absurd to us, the little people without an Ultra Success Mindstate, who have accepted that our fate is bound to the fate of this planet. But it is perfectly in line with the sort of thinking that drives men to become billionaires in the first place. Looming climate change disaster is not a reason to come together and recognize that our destinies are linked with those of all living things; rather, it is a sign that the time has come to build the escape vehicle.
This, my friends, is what Jeff Bezos meant when he said that his rocket company is “the most important work I’m doing”. He and his fellow space-obsessed billionaires are exactly like the rich men aboard the Titanic who pushed the women and children aside to jump into the lifeboats when they realized that the ship was sinking. As the public gawks and smiles at the neato spectacle of the space tourists blasting off, what we are really witnessing is the dry run of a getaway plan – the pure, distilled embodiment of the concept of selfishness, brought to life in fiery spectacle.
When Bezos announced he was going to space, many people joked that he should stay there. Absolutely not. He must be returned to Earth at all costs. The problems of the world that he is escaping were created by rich people just like him. We’re not going to let them get away from us that easily.