It is no secret to us that Jeff Bezos is ridiculously rich.
I mean sickening rich. But I feel like I’d be wasting my time putting another anti-Bezos post on the internet since there are so many. You are all by now somewhat aware of the terrible working conditions and wages of Amazon staff and the undercutting of small independent businesses to force them into working with Amazon. You know the amazing things we could achieve with his wealth without really affecting his quality of living. So, if I’m not going to pop off about that, what am I going to talk about?
First of all, we’re going down controversial lane. Not because what I’m saying is extreme, but because nobody is ready to hear it. I want to put a human spin on things and briefly get into the psychological and practical theology side of this topic, attempting to answer what is one of the trickiest questions concerning his wealth:
“If he has the resources to solve complex world issues, why won’t he?”
One thing I don’t want to ever do is justify the insane wealth he has because it came at the expense of underpaid and overworked employees and companies that have been played. Let’s agree to never act like it’s possible to reach a $196.3B net worth on your own. However, I see a lot of big talk about how if people were in his shoes they would give all their money away and solve world issues. I really had to sit down and think about different reasons that Jeff Bezos doesn’t just pay his workers fairly, give most of his money away and keep what is necessary to allow the growth of Amazon and a comfortable personal life. To be honest, there is no actual concrete reason for it. However, if we hop into the human mind there is a level of comfort or psychological security that money offers in the face of chaos, and with the way our world works (you’ve lived through the coronavirus just think about toilet paper) there is an element of frugality.
Whilst I can make generalisations about the psychology of hoarding I can’t make generalisations about Bezos. But I can pose this question: what if Bezos is hoarding wealth for psychological security? We tend to hoard in excess because we want to erase the possibility of ever running out. For obvious reasons I am not defending Bezos but one thing I definitely am doing is opening up grounds to discuss this “if I were Bezos” thinking. As a Christian, the Being Bezos Dilemma reminds me all too well of this bible verse: ““For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Essentially, all of this hoarding means nothing if he dies tomorrow, but to him this money is possibly his gateway to invincibility. That’s pretty sad if you ask me.
“If you were Jeff Bezos, would the world be any different?”
We love to take the moral high ground and act like we would be this sugar-daddy activist that just throws money at any worthy cause. But is it truly that simple and are we really that nice? Being Jeff Bezos is a hypothetical situation for everyone else in the world other than Jeff Bezos, so we actually don’t know how we would act if placed in that situation, and it is possible that if in his shoes we wouldn’t overcome our innate tendencies to be overly frugal. Also, as I mentioned in “Do We Really Want the End of Capitalism?” a few months ago, it’s actually our consumerist culture that even places people like Jeff Bezos in the position that they are in. You hate Jeff Bezos but have an amazon account? Yeah, you may want to rethink your views. If we are so sure that Jeff Bezos himself is inherently evil, why do we feed into his wealth? Why not fund public figures that we believe to be “good”? I’ll tell you why:
Nobody on this planet is actually inherently good.
Biblically speaking, you’re not good, and I am not definitely not either. None of us are good. In fact, our righteousness is literally like filthy rags the bible says and it couldn’t be more right. And before you argue that some of us may actually do greater things with the wealth, we all ultimately would’ve had to do shady things to get there just as he has. We would have to exploit people, use dodgy business strategies and ultimately think about ourselves. Even if we gave it all away to solve a singular world crisis, we’ve still created a problem in order to solve that problem. Then we have no wealth left to deal with the exploitation and businesses falling under as a result of our own doing. All of our good is accompanied by a lot of bad – do you get the point now?
Now you’re left questioning if it’s possible to do anything right. Yes, but we don’t need a stuffed piggy bank to achieve that. First of all, start with knowing that good deeds do not prove that you’re a “good person”. Second, stop giving into your impulses that are fuelling inequality gaps. Third, stop waiting for a rich man to save us and know that money can’t save us at all. If we wait for temporary things or people to save us, we’ll expire alongside them. And as for me? I do what I do not because I am perfect, but because I am guided by a God who is. No, I cannot solve world problems as I am, but I understand that there is so much more at stake than our physicality here.