I see your gloriously successful face, the face of the wealthiest man in the world, one of The Observers from Fringe who’s travelled back from the future to bury himself balls deep in the free market. You’re one man with more personal wealth than several countries, the source of the Amazon, the river that flows down to all of us to make our lives more convenient and send us a single DVD in a cardboard box the size of a fridge. But it doesn’t fulfil you, does it, Jeff Bezos? You’ve got enough money to build yachts that stack into each other like Russian dolls but there’s always that nagging little doubt in the back of your mind. What about the little guy?
It’s time, isn’t it, Jeff Bezos? It’s been a year since you asked Twitter how to gift your money to those in need. A year since a million voices cried out “maybe on our wages?” and were suddenly silenced. A year since you took some PR advice and decided that being the least generous billionaire in the world perhaps wasn’t the best look. It’s time for Amazon Philanthropy, streaming direct in to the poorest homes, bringing you 24/7 tax relief and positive headlines. You asked Alexa what the people wanted, and then you asked her again because she said “The Wanted are a British-Irish boy band consisting of members Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes who formed in 2009.”
It’s time for some crumbs from the table to trickle down, isn’t it, Jeff Bezos? You’ve had a bit of a mauling in the press of late, what with warehouse workers struggling in impossible situations, living in tents and pissing in bottles so they don’t miss their ludicrous quotas. Add to that the fact that Amazon’s tendrils snake in to every corner of the globe, constantly reaching around to adjust its financial testicles in order to protect them from the bite of the tax man. You’re too big for punitive measures, too convenient to fail. Where it suits you, you’ll actively interfere and lobby against tax initiatives that could cost you. Where was your support for affordable housing when you throttled one in Seattle, Jeff Bezos? The message is clear – you’ll pay out when there’s good press and profit in it, but Lord help any legislator who tries to bring you to heel.
Since the financial crash, we’ve seen the wealth of the richest thousand people in the world skyrocket. At what fucking point do we stop idolising those who hoard their fortunes and start recognising the injustice? What possible added value do those extra billions add to the lives of those who hold them, beyond the simple bragging rights? “The rich create jobs” means nothing when those jobs pay so badly that the state’s welfare system has to support those working full time, propping up industries and global corporations that have become so nebulous and all-powerful that they’re impossible to regulate.
Is philanthropy from the super rich welcome? A starving man is never going to bite the hand that feeds him, Jeff Bezos. But in your case the motivations are so disgustingly transparent that any humanity in the gesture disappears completely. This is the end result of the neoliberal model; a workhouse full of hacking emphysema sufferers thanking the foreman for opening a window.
And the most galling truth of all? There won’t be any justice for any of it. Those of us who are comfortable will keep ordering our shit, right up to and beyond the point where drones are dropping out of the sky to brush our teeth and bleach our arseholes. Those who aren’t will keep struggling in your warehouses and toiling in your delivery vans, all because the profit margin is more important than basic human decency. The rift between the haves and the have nots will continue to deepen, and instead of considering the thorough grotesquery of it all we’ll snipe at each other for our jealousy rather than calling out our own exploitation.
And you, Jeff Bezos? You’ll live a long, impossibly comfortable life, until you pass away in your own bed surrounded by the money you love.
And on that day you’ll wake, Jeff Bezos, and there will finally be a reckoning.
I see you, Jeff Bezos, your face filled with bliss as you walk along the clouds. I see the pearly gates before you, glittering in the glorious light of the sun. I smell lavender and jasmine and hear the singing of angels.
I see the marble plinth by the gate, Jeff Bezos, but there’s no Peter here. That process was automated years ago, and now he sleeps in a tent under an overpass.
There’s just a black cylinder, her top aglow with blue light that chases itself around in a circle.
I see you smile, Jeff Bezos, and I hear you ask. Alexa, let me in.
I hear the chime, Jeff Bezos.
“Let Me In is a 2010 American-British romantic horror film written and directed by Matt Reeves…”
I hear you sigh, Jeff Bezos. Alexa, stop. Open the gates.
“Open the Gates is the fourth album by American heavy metal band Manilla Road.”
I see you swallow nervously, Jeff Bezos. You know her all too well, and there’s a good chance you’ll be here for quite a while.
You’re not getting in, Jeff Bezos. Not through the gates, and certainly not through the eye of a needle. Not with all that unnecessary fucking packaging.
I see you, Jeff Bezos. I fucking see you.