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  • Writer's pictureS. McKiernan

2021: A Space Bourgeois

In the midst of a global health crisis, millions dead and dying, one man with the net worth of 193.3 billion dollars⏤enough to end world hunger, solve the climate crisis, and provide international health care in the current global pandemic⏤decide it's time to take himself, his brother, someone's grandma, and a child (whose dad paid for his ticket) to space in the most phallic rocket ship reddit has ever seen. The year is 2021 and, on July 20th, Jeff Bezos went to space.

Back down on earth, us peasants' petition with 162 000 signatures for him to not come back. Alas, this was fruitless. It only took eleven minutes. And to quote it was “the best day ever.” If you would like to learn more about Jeff Bezos’ enablers who accompanied him to space, I don’t know why.

Jeff Bezos was not the first billionaire to go into space and he likely will not be the last. Richard Branson went to space on July 11th 2021, two weeks before Jeff Bezos. While the internet had many questions for Bezos, they only had one for Branson: who are you? If there's no catchy Tik-Tok audio about a billionaire then what’s even the point? Richard Branson founded the Virgin Group and flies Virgin Galactic, the rival to Bezos’ Blue Origin. It is suspected that Elon Musk will be the next to go to space, and this time to Mars.

If you're rich, you may be wondering: “what's the fuss about? Why can’t a man just take a space vacation for a day? Have that once in a lifetime experience? We’re living in the future!” We are living in the future. This is the reality. What does this say about how people make and spend money now? And what does it mean for those who can’t cough up 28 million dollars to fly Blue Origin and escape this George Orwell-dystopian-hellscape of a planet billionaires are destroying?

Amazon pays its employees a minimum of $15 an hour. The average yearly salary in the U.S. is around $30,000. Bezos is literally the richest man in the world and he had the audacity to thank his Amazon employees⏤who he doesn’t give suitable working conditions, adequate break times, or living wages⏤for helping make his trip possible.

To be a billionaire is inherently unethical. To sit on more money than you can possibly spend in a lifetime is the ultimate representation of greed. But to flaunt your extravagant wealth in the most useless way possible, by getting in your spaceship and having a rocket measuring contest with other billionaires, is just mind-blowingly idiotic.

A quick trip to space is not only for the astronomically wealthy though. Over 500 people have paid deposits for a $200 000 reserved seat to "a minute-long suborbital flight on the SpaceShipTwo (SS2)" by the end of 2021. If Virgin Galactic's claim that their rocket's carbon emissions are nothing more than a round trip from Singapore to London, this would be far less concerning. But experts agree more information is needed⏤Virgin Galactic can't substantiate that claim. On the other hand, Blue Origin is estimated to emit 60 times the carbon emissions per passenger mile of a business class flight, according to a NASA climate scientist. It may not be about the size Jeff, it could be how you use it.

In any case, it’s hardly outlandish to say frivolous carbon emissions (like these) should be avoided; We’re literally in a climate crisis that’s only worsening with time, primarily due to waste and pollution from corporations. So while these CEOs escape a world they help ruin, what do they leave behind?

In a CNN interview, Bezos agreed that there are "lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those." He admitted CEOs like him must address these issues, but quickly adds that, at the same time,"we always need to look to the future."For the good of us all, I sincerely hope he doesn't mean a future where he invents swimmable gold to fill his pool with, a penis shaped submarine, poor people repellant now in spray form, etcetera, etcetera.

It's strange we can physically realize the things people have dreamt up for centuries, space travel being a prime example. But when doing so depends on exploitation and ignoring the suffering of millions, it goes beyond strange; It's heartless. When these CEOs⏤who could fix so many of the Earth's problems⏤decide their time is better spent on Bill-and-Ted-style space adventures, they reveal how phenomenally selfish they are. But I suppose none of us are surprised.

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