5 February 2021

Mark O’Connell: “The way that Amazon does business — its pressuring of suppliers, its systematic annihilation of retail competitors, its incessant harvesting of its customers’ data, its treatment of its own workers as little better than machines — is, of course, inseparable from the personal wealth of its founder, Jeff Bezos, who earlier this week stepped down as CEO of the company. But even if the means by which that wealth had been amassed were somehow unobjectionable, it would still stand, purely on its own terms, as a moral obscenity. It’s impossible to even conceive of the scale of this man’s wealth. It’s like trying to think about deep time: the mind’s eye glazes over. This is a man who makes about $149,000 with every passing minute. This is a man who, last July, in the midst of a global pandemic and a devastating economic crisis, increased his personal wealth by $13bn in the course of a single day. This is a man who, despite living on a planet where one third of human beings don’t have access to safe drinking water, told Business Insidermagazine that ‘the only way I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel’.” (This “long read” has a lot of interesting things to say about Bezos, Amazon, and the challenge of living ethically within their hegemony.)