Jeff Bezos, speaking at a press conference after the launch of a Blue Origin rocket on July 20, tries on a pair of goggles that belonged to Amelia Earhart. Tony Gutierrez/AP Images

Dear Billionaires, We Already Have a Planet

Why going into space right now is pointless

I want to be funny about this so badly. There are so many jokes to make about this situation, from Jeff Beezus’s silly cowboy hat to his—and I cannot express this enough—incredibly phallic spacecraft design.


I want to be funny about this so badly, but I can’t. 


Billionaires should not be going into space. They should be helping the planet that exists down here.


How hard is it to understand that? Earth is just one planet in our beautiful solar system, but being able to float in space for 11 minutes proves absolutely nothing. Jeff Bezos going into space only proves that he has the money to do it.


How can you be funny about a billionaire flying into space when there are people down on this planet who can’t afford to eat, some of whom are employed by Bezos himself? Going up to space on the backs of workers that don’t have a solid quality of life—when he can provide that for them—is despicable.


It is ridiculous that billionaires can just throw money at space engineers and say, “Hey, I want to go to space.” We’ve gotten to a point where billionaires have the ability to literally build themselves a rocket instead of looking in the mirror and asking themselves, “What if I put my money into something that is actually beneficial for the human race, and for the planet as a whole?”


It would be understandable if Bezos was going to space for actual science, but he didn’t even do that. Bezos did about the same amount of work that a monkey in the 60’s did. He didn’t help with gathering any scientific knowledge, and he didn’t help with any actual space exploration. He just did it because he could.


Bezos has been to space more times than Amazon has properly paid taxes. According to data provided by the Forbes 400 list, Bezos makes $149,353 every minute. Multiplying by the 11 minutes he was in space, Bezos made $1,642,883 while he was in the air. That is significantly more money than many people will make in their lifetimes, according to data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


If I were to list out every single better thing to do with that money, this article would be more than 10 pages long. For starters, climate change; just two little words, filled with multifaceted projects, any of which Bezos could have donated to with even a single dollar. But, instead, he floated around and made $1.6 million—just in space. That does not even account for the money he made during the time that it took to prepare his silly little project. And yes—I’m going to call it a silly little project, because it is silly, and very little. Bezos has the power to change the world and, instead, he flew into space for a dick-measuring contest with other billionaires. It’s so easy and so much fun to make jokes, as well as to blame Bezos, but he is not the only one. Musk and Richard Branson are just as easy to blame.


Billionaires should not exist in the first place. They are an extension of hyper-capitalism in a world where disparities in wealth in the United States alone are only going to grow. They are choosing not to take the opportunity to change that. Bezos treated going into space the same way a four-year-old treats going to Disneyland.


I hope that, years from now, people will look back at this and understand that Bezos and these stupid billionaires are not an accurate representation of all the people that live here. I hope that 20–30 years from now, when kids are reading about this in their history classes, they look at what has happened and they think to themselves how crazy it is. Because it is crazy! All of this is crazy!


There’s a phrase in environmental activism: “We have no planet B.” It’s true. We don’t. And as much as billionaires would like to think that they can escape the atrocities that are happening on this planet, they can’t. Even being able to go into space for 11 minutes is a risky thing to do, so the fact that Bezos did it just to say that he could is unjustifiable. It’s stupid.


Maybe there should be a better word for me to use, but it’s the truth. It is stupid. If Bezos was going up there to conduct experiments, or to learn something about how we travel to space, or space engineering—or literally anything else—that would be a whole other story. If he was actually doing something to benefit the human race, then my article about it would be completely different. But he didn’t do that. He didn’t do anything to benefit anyone other than himself.