June 30, 2021
Whether or not you’ve signed the viral petition for Jeff Bezos to stay in outer space after his Blue Origin rocket launch in July, there’s one immutable fact about the CEO and current richest-person-alive you’ll all begrudgingly agree with: your life’s easier with Amazon.
As you’re reading this, you’re likely either waiting for an Amazon package, getting one from outside your door, putting one in your cart, or actively scrolling the game-changing digital commerce behemoth and COVID near-necessity.
Now, you shouldn’t worship wealth for wealth’s sake of course, but you have to give credit where it’s due…
Bezos has given us the capacity to get nearly anything our whims desire at our fingertips and drone-delivered – from Fire Tablets for your (grand)child’s birthday to ergonomic chairs for your remote home office… This is what progress looks like.
While claims of steep wealth inequality and questionable treatment of Amazon warehouse workers have credence in the existential Bezos debate, his creation has ultimately bettered humanity.
Meanwhile, Bezos’ ex-wife Mackenzie Scott busies herself, giving away her billions at 5G speeds, divorcing herself from her inherited fortune like it’s dirty money… It’s not.
It’s not a crime to succeed. And when one innovation elevates the quality of life for people worldwide, it’s a moonshot worth celebrating.
For more insight into the correlation between wealth, progress, and Bezos, we present RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny, whose new book is available, naturally, on Amazon.
Bezos in His Prime: Amazon’s Successes Belong to All of Us
84 Charing Cross Road was a very well-reviewed, but lightly watched (think “independent”) 1987 film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. Bancroft is a scriptwriter in New York, Hopkins a bookstore owner in London, and their correspondence begins with Bancroft’s character writing a letter to Hopkins in order to inquire about the availability of certain books.
Such was life back in the 1980s. With cross-continent communications by phone still very expensive, snail mail was the preferred mode of communication for most who were separated by oceans.
This sort of expensive snail mail comes ahead of addressing the recent news about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ former wife, Mackenize Scott. It was reported that she gave away $6 billion in 2020 to a variety of organizations as her net worth soared to $60 billion.
What’s notable about Scott’s huge donation is that it’s not set to end anytime soon. According to a New York Times report, Scott plans to keep giving away the funds at her disposal “until the safe is empty.” Scott’s desire to relieve herself of vast wealth gives the impression that’s she uncomfortable with the size of her net worth, along with that of her former husband. Sure enough, Scott confirmed her uneasiness with a blog post in which she said “it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands.” There’s a flaw in her thinking, and it’s revealed by the anecdote that began this piece.
In 1987, the richest American according to Forbes could claim a net worth of $8.5 billion. The smaller number compared with today’s tells us something, and it’s something vivified by the primitive nature of communications in 84 Charing Cross Road. In 1987, information about books-for-sale was intensely slow. By 2021, what took many weeks for Bancroft’s character to find out could be found within seconds on Amazon from a variety of sources – at which point the books would soon be shipped to her.
In which case, it’s useful to imagine Bezos hitting his business prime in the 1980s. While he likely would have been rich, his net worth unquestionably would have been many multiples smaller… which is the problem. Because communications technology was so limited in the 1980s, Bezos would have been able to serve exponentially fewer customers in a much less expansive fashion.
The wealth gap in America has never been wider — we’ve still never fully recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, and it’s only going to get worse from here. But the effects of the Big Con are going to devastate those who don’t take action. So do something now while you still can.
Translated for those who need it, there was no commercial Internet in 1987, which means there was no way for Bezos to make it possible for billions of the world’s inhabitants to order the world’s plenty on Amazon – let alone the books that Bezos initially peddled on his once-ridiculed website. Major communications advances that started to take shape in the 1990s, but really took off in more recent years, have made it possible for Bezos to serve much of the world in ways he or his driven equivalent never could have in the 1980s.
It’s a simple reminder that as opposed to soaring wealth inequality signaling something amiss in the U.S., or signaling a “crime,” the rising wealth concentration that Scott decries is in fact a sign of immense progress. As technology improves and shrinks the world in a figurative sense, innovative people like Bezos are able to touch more and more of the world with their unique genius.
Far from Bezos’s “disproportionate wealth” existing as a signal of unfairness, it’s in truth a wonderful signal that as opposed to millions or tens of millions, in the 2020s Bezos is able to remove unease from the lives of billions globally. This is particularly worth thinking about in the year 2021. Lest we forget, large parts of the world were locked down in 2020. Please stop and think what life would have been like without Amazon in 2020. Yes, already hideous takings of freedom would have been quite a bit more brutal. There’s an argument they couldn’t have even happened without the comforts provided by Bezos’s creation.
Whatever the answer, what’s undeniable is that life without Amazon on its own would drive the vast majority of the developed world into a state of frustration that’s indescribable – not to mention what Bezos’s transformative business achievements unearthed from other entrepreneurs. In other words, if you hate or even dislike Amazon, you must also thoroughly despise life without it.
This is why Scott’s apologetic tone as she gives away billions is so disappointing. Not only would her ability to make a difference for countless organizations be massively shrunken absent her former-husband’s achievements, Scott seems to indicate the achievements were ill-gotten. In her words, she’s trying to give away “a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.” The bet here is that Scott doth protest too much, and that, in time, her protest will bring her embarrassment.
I’m not sure if you remember books, America, but it’s what people used to sink their faces into to avoid dealing with family and strangers. Our editor-in-chief, P.J. O’Rourke, has written a few in his time, and he’s re-releasing his bestselling Eat the Rich, complete with a new chapter to take on the absurdity of 2021 economics. And as an American Consequences subscriber, you can have access to the newly released edition for free! Claim Your Copy Now.
She ignores that the “systems” enabling her ex-husband to massively enhance global living standards were technological advances within which Bezos uniquely saw possibility. As opposed to corrupt systems, Bezos saw the Internet’s potential in a way that few – if anyone – did. He saw the Internet shrinking the world for the better such that Amazon could, in a service-sense, be “next door” to its customers around the world.
Thank goodness for technological progress, not corrupt “systems,” that made it possible for Bezos to reimagine commerce. His wealth is a flashing sign of our betterment. Scott’s shame is sadly shameful.
Word has it that 5G and future generations of Internet connectivity are set to make our abundant present seem like Dial-Up by comparison. Technological advancement is soon to shrink the world even more so now that the talented can even more expertly meet our needs, thus foretelling future fortunes that will make Bezos’s appear small by comparison. In short, the future will be beautiful.
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Managing Editor, American Consequences
With Editorial Staff
June 30, 2021