the DON JONES INDEX…

 

 

 

GAINS POSTED in GREEN

LOSSES POSTED in RED

 

 

 

7/30/21…  14,281.79 

7/23/21…  14,307.39 

6/27/13…  15,000.00

 

(THE DOW JONES INDEX:  7/30/21…35,084.53; 7/23/21…34,823.35; 6/27/13… 15,000.00)

 

 

LESSON for July 30, 2021 – SPACE FARCE!

 

In assessing reports on the Bezos and Branson space flights last week, we encountered numerous pertinent public comments attached to those accounts from several of the publications reporting on matters Earthbound and higher – particularly on Jeff Bezos, Amazon and its treatment of employees, his relationship with Donald Trump and such.  So we are going to pull a few from a variety of these print and online journals… some on the left, some right, some allegedly independent.

Post-flight, things have not been going so well for either of the astronauts – in fact, their very status as astronauts is being called into question by reputable authorities such as NASA, as well as by the usual gang of idiots.

The New York Times (July 26th, see Attachment Two) cited the FAA in declaring Bezos an un-astronaut while crediting Branson with at least having a qualified pilot aboard for his voyage.  Instead, the bicentibillionaire was sloughed off as a “participant” as in the feel-good trophies awarded juvenile athletic also-rans:

“To qualify for the F.A.A.’s distinction,” they noted, “a person had to reach an altitude of 50 miles — reflecting the earlier United States Air Force practice — and one had to be considered as part of “the flight crew,” which the federal agency defines as:

any employee or independent contractor of a licensee, transferee, or permittee, or of a contractor or subcontractor of a licensee, transferee, or permittee, who performs activities in the course of that employment or contract directly relating to the launch, re-entry, or other operation of or in a launch vehicle or re-entry vehicle that carries human beings.

“Everyone else who goes to space is, in the F.A.A.’s view, just a “spaceflight participant,” not an astronaut.”

 

·         Ego bruised, Bezos would suffer more damage – this time to his pocketbook, as reported by CNBC.  Beyond the potential de-astronautification, Jeffy’s week was of the sort that made him want to stay up in space.  Aside from the resuscitation of his Tayloristic employee policies in the printed, Internet, social media and smoke signal press, his short (but potentially pioneering) jaunt drew wide distaste from the usual subjects.  More painfully, the much-pilloried government struck back today when NASA “ranked and yanked” Blue Origen’s lucrative astronaut lunar lander contract – redirecting the swag to competitor Elon Musk’s SpaceX.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office then denied Bezos’ protest.  (See more at CNBC, Attachment Three)

Maybe he should treat his lawyers to some of the same treatment doled out to fulfillment center proles.

MSNBC, another satellite of media hostility towards King Jeff (See Attachment Four), aimed their claws at Jeffy’s eyeballs by accusing him of that which is beyond despicable in the eyes of liberal progressives… a man!  A straight… white… man!

“In 1970, one year after the moon landing, the poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron released one of his best-known spoken word compositions. The piece, “Whitey on the Moon,” memorialized, in sardonic fashion, the saccharine patriotism that had arisen around Apollo 11, with its Cold War triumphalism and sensation of the imminent conquest of space.

“Scott-Heron’s oration, against the backdrop of a hypnotic drumbeat, lamented that a rat had bitten his sister, the rent was going up, and far away on a rock in airless space a man had planted an American flag. Scott-Heron later explained that the poem had been inspired by Eldridge Cleaver, an exiled leader of the Black Panther Party, describing the space race as a “flying circus” meant to suppress both revolutionary sentiment and more conventional efforts at social betterment in the United States.

“Fifty-one years later, Scott-Heron’s words are no less damning — doctor bills and rent remain unalleviated, and the racial disparities inherent in the refrain seem ever starker, enshrined in new voter-suppression legislation around the country and in the disproportionate death toll of the pandemic on communities of color. But a new “flying circus” has arisen nonetheless — another race to space, even more ludicrous than before, with a rarefied circle of lily-white billionaires serving as well-heeled ringmasters.

The paean to Eldridge Cleaver may have worn a little thin by now among wokesters… the author of “Soul on Ice” returned from exile in Algeria, then signed on with Reverend Moon’s conservative cult; he would end up a passionate defender of Richard Nixon.  One wonders what might have transpired had he lived into the Age of Trump… Roger Stone may have had his back tattooed with Tricky Dick’s portrait, but maybe El could have hired those dancing needles to inscribe a vision of The Djonald on his back, or in another place.

Speaking of Dicks, even the conspiracists at Info Wars piled on poor Jeffy.  (See Attachment Five) And, though a right-wing tough guy capitalist, his feud with The Djonald probably sunk his submarine with the Alex Jones brigade:  The Internet was quick to point out that the rocket is shaped like a dildo,” they snarked.

Branson, after all, launched his career as a rather pathetic billionaire (only five or so) as a rock and roll suit and, so, slithered through the grasp of the progressive haters.  Bezos, the disciple of capitalist/communist hybrid Frederick Taylor, took his lumps from the New York Times… first in 2015 after imposing wristwatch monitors on his serfs, then last month as conditions in his Amazon “fulfillment centers” came to light.  (See last week’s DJI.)

Not only the government, but private agglomerations, even lone citizens with grudges… earned or gratuitous, trained their sights on the “egonauts”.

The cruel pop marketing guru Professor Scott Galloway unloaded an infomercial’s worth of sarcasm on the spaceboy in his syndicated marketing blog (see Attachment One I) as more Amazonians dared to speak of their legacy of abuse – and were promptly silenced.  Even Bezos critics within his formerly influential Washington Post were fired once Jeff heard their discouraging words.

Still, some persisted.  A few anonymous traitors to Team Bezos even spilled the kombuchua to HuffPost

 

Here’s what some of those anonymous Washington Post employees actually think about Amazon. We’ll be updating with additional responses as they come in.

“Please give away more of your money instead of sending it to space.

“Amazon is a great company, from the consumer side. It’s Product Google, type in the thing and get what you’re looking for. From an employment side, I get that it’s a lot murkier and that its scale makes often-normal, ugly employment practices stand out more.

“Amazon workers absolutely need a union, their workers should be allowed to organize peacefully, and I’m just thankful we were already a union shop when we were bought.

“I’m boring, I have no strong Amazon opinions.

“I’m grateful Bezos bought the Post, because I probably wouldn’t have a job here without it. With that said, I’m both concerned and hopeful about the Amazon real estate deal in Virginia. On one hand, a win is a win for the area when it comes to new jobs. On the other, how Amazon builds out their new facility needs scrutiny, and it will be especially complicated for The Post to cover it, both in terms of perceptions and reality. We need to dig in on it. Separately, I think the conflation of the “Amazon Washington Post” in pop culture and politics is difficult for the paper. I cringed when I watched Steve Carell’s recent SNL skit where he posed as Bezos and implied he has a role in the newsroom to troll Trump. From what I’ve seen, he really doesn’t, and it’s a challenge when it keeps getting portrayed otherwise.

“My answer isn’t that fun, but I feel like I can say whatever I want about Amazon. Haven’t felt any pressure to censor (but I did just cancel my Prime account to save $$$).

“The treatment of Amazon workers is atrocious. It’s the 21st century version of old-school 19th century style labor violations. People ought to be able to use the restroom on the job, folks; that’s not really up for debate. And then there are the hideously subpar wages. I appreciate Bezos’ sponsorship of the Post, but our values are wildly out of sync with his shitty treatment of his own workers.

“The Post has the standard newspaper culture where any public display of opinion on any of the 1,000 subjects we cover is strongly discouraged, and I think that’s as much a driver of self-censorship as any specific concerns related to Bezos owning us. (I think a lot of employees would also avoid expressing a strong online opinion about Google or Facebook, for example.) That being said! Amazon clearly hates unions. As far as I know the Post is the only thing that Bezos owns that’s unionized, and the last round of contract negotiations were absolutely brutal because of it, despite 2016 and 2017 being huge successes for the paper by any measure. I’m glad that the HQ2 sweepstakes and its conclusion was so transparently gross that the company actually got some blowback for it. Working conditions in fulfillment centers sound terrible. Amazon Fire tablets suck.

“Are we not allowed to say anything about Amazon...?

“I don’t really know what I’d say. I mean, I work for the Post and it’s a pretty glorious thing. I don’t really deal with anything involving Amazon. The boss seems to give us a budget to do good work, and we try our best. Damn, that’s a boring response.

“[Amazon] is kinda the perfect, terrifying example of what people are willing to ignore for the sake of convenience.

“I’d say, “Please return our phone calls.” But I guess every reporter would say that.

“Okay, so I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but I would say that i tend to do less critical thinking about Amazon than I do, say, about Facebook or Google or Walmart, and the reason is fairly obvious: because I am thankful for the opportunity I have, which wouldn’t exist without Jess Bezos. Absent a deep, more thoughtful analysis, do I have concerns about Amazon’s impact on the world―labor practices, antitrust law and the future of small businesses? Yes. And would I say that out loud at work? No. Oh, I would also say that when you have a $1 trillion market cap, you ought to be able to afford health insurance for your warehouse employees. [Ed. note: This employee was later eager to clarify that they meant “Jeff,” not “Jess.”]

“I hope Amazon employees aren’t fooled by that hyped up pay raise from [October], I get excited every time I hear news of union talk at Amazon sites.

“Like everyone who thinks about it for more than a minute, I wish Amazon paid warehouse workers better, had better labor conditions, weren’t part of a monopoly-inclined tech culture, and didn’t put cities and states through the ridiculous torture of throwing tax incentives at one of the most valuable companies in the history of the world for a second headquarters they apparently had decided they needed to open anyway for business reasons. Nevertheless, like everyone who spends too much time on their phone and computer, I buy a lot of stuff there. As a Post employee specifically, though, one of my biggest frustrations with Amazon is that the story you’re writing is such an obvious one to do: The immense wealth and power that Jeff Bezos amassed there let him pour resources into our work, but also gives people reason to wonder whether Amazon is off-limits for us. My colleagues who cover the company do a good job navigating the many potential conflicts of interest inherent in writing critically about a massive corporation run by your boss. But those conflicts of interest are there no matter how well we do our jobs.

“It is the ugliest site on the Internet. It’s as if some designer was directed to generate as many images, words and numbers as possible, and then arrange them in the most confusing and least attractive fashion they could muster. The only thing uglier than this site’s design is the selection of women’s clothing, which all come from brands you have never heard of with names like “Snowfoller” and “Yyear.” I once made the mistake of paying for gift wrap from Amazon for a baby shower gift. “Gift wrap” at Amazon means it comes in a blue box with a mustard ribbon (no bow) and a piece of computer paper folded into a tag with the Amazon logo on it. It looks like something you would be handed on your way out of a regional corporate conference in the Philly suburbs, and they charge money for this. Bezos has so much money, he is publicly mulling throwing it into a trash can in outer space while his employees have to donate vacation time to each other when they get cancer. Literally he would rather launch money into space for no purpose than give it to the people who work for him. I love working at the Post, but Amazon sucks.”

So up went Richard, down went Richard, and then up went Jeff.  This week, we’re taking a look at some of the reactions of the little people… commentators to the big and small, left and right, thriving and failing media as were profiled last week and whom we dub our Peanut Galleries.  (Attachments One A through H).

They have quite a bit to say (or, rather, post).  There are even a few surprises… Bezos defenders in a lefty and neo-liberal institution like the NY Times, union advocates as said so in conservative journals and lived to post another day.

Beyond the heat, some light was shed.  It is palpable that… the egos of Bezos and Trump aside… one of the significant dividing lines that resonates across America – geographically, culturally, racially and philosophically – is whether private enterprise or gumment intervention can best meet the challenges of the future; whether they be returning a man to the moon or dealing with earthbound problems like the plague and climate change.

And, on the scientific and economic fronts, are these little ten minute Chautauquas by billionaires just a blast of empty ego, or a first wobbly step into the privatization of space (for good or for ill) whether space tourism, exploiting the resources on moons and asteroids and planets as Earth’s resources run out… even as a last-ditch ploy to save a human race that has destroyed its habitat. 

Which brings us round to the old question of liberty versus security and… not surprisingly… Benjamin Franklin’s admonition that those who would sacrifice the one would not add to the other.

(Of course, Mister F. was an old white male capitalist and, if not filthy rich, had plenty of acquaintances who were and who would subsidize his outsized wants and needs for the privilege of his company.)

While the spacemen spaced, back on Earth…


 

 

JULY 23 – JULY 29

 

 

Friday, July 23, 2021

 

Infected: 34,400,655

Dead:  610,720

 Dow:  35,061.55

 

 

The Tokyo Olympics begin – with festivities (Eddie Alvarez, MLB and Sue Bird WNBA are the American torchbearers; Naomi Osaka lights the cauldron), but in an unfestive mood.  Test kits fail to arrive at the Olympic Village, where 110 athletes and others get it.  Only 1,500 attend the opening ceremonies (as opposed to 65,000 in Brazil 2016, and 100 members of TeamAmerica refuses vaxxes.

   Heat dome rebuilds in West, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire now scorching 400,000 acres and nine of the state’s firefighters get it.

   CDC says de-masking and social undistancing is spurring returns of the common cold.  Doctors now say the Delta Variant will get worse and worse until at least October.

 

 

 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

 

Infected:  34,428,050

Dead:  610,835

 

           

 

Wildfire smoke casts coughing, sneezing cloud coast to coast.  Nice sunsets, though.  Killer floods ravage India.

   U.S. buys 200M cases of the Pfizer vaccine, but shots won’t be available until April.  Despite pleadings and firings, 25% of hospital workers remain vaxx refuseniks while gumment bungling keeps children unprotected with school days looming closer and closer.  Tough talking NYC officials say the time for voluntary masking is over while some NFL players say they’d rather quit than comply with mandates.  Olympic village cases rise to 127 – the Czech volleyball team gets it; so does Rami, the snow leopard at the San Diego zoo.

   Funeral for assassinated Haitian President ends in gas and gunfire.  US racks up 709 shootings and 309 dead in a week; 777 gun violence incidents altogether.  77 year old Mick Jagger he’s taking the Stones out for another round of touring starting October. 

 

 

 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Infected:  34,443,761                 Dead:  610,891

                

 

 

President Joe pivots to foreign affairs – meets with Iraqi President, says the troops will advise, but not withdraw.  More sanctions imposed on Cuban officials, which concern them not at all.

  Saturday shootings in Chicago - a National Guardsman among 77 shot  (7 killed)… other incidents include a Sheriff’s Deputy in Vancouver, WA and a 12 year old in North Carolina.  President Joe blame violence on ending of the plague, promises to crack down on gun dealers.  13 year old “playing with a lighter” arrested for starting another wildfire.

   RIP comedian Jackie Mason, civil rights leader Bob Moses.  ROH (rot in hell) “dating game killer” cheats execution by dying in jail.

 

 

 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Infected:  34,533,179                 Dead:  610,952                        Dow:  35,144.31 

               

 

Partisan squabbles erupt as Speaker Nancy appoints RINO Kinzinger to her One Six Capitol Riot Commission.  Hearings open with four policemen claiming the insurrection was real; even though some of those Congressmen evacuated say it was a hoax and Ol’ 45 says it was full of “love”.  “We have to ignore the antics of those who do not want the truth,” Pelosi says; Minority leader Kevin McCarthy calls it politics, not patriotism.

   More Olympians get it including golfer Byron deChambeau.  Olympic Village plague-ees start the day at 137, end it at 153.  Humiliating day for Team America… women’s soccer team fails and men’s basketballers’ 25 game win streak ends against… France!

   Bennifer reunites for J. Lo’s 52nd birthday.

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Infected: 34,603,919                    Dead:  611,414                              Dow:  35,058.52

 

 

Olympics stunner – tennis star and cauldron lighter Naomi Osaka loses to some unranked someone, top US gymnast Simone Biles withdraws for mental health reasons.  And the Norwegian handball team is fined for refusing to wear bikini bottoms.  The scene is just too freakinweird in Tokyo; singer Pink, by the way, paid the fines.

   Stateside, the Capitol Riots star chamber begins shining with videos and testimony from four of the policemen charged with defending the politicians… some of whom now pretended that nothing ever happened.  "He himself helped create this monstrosity," Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell said of Trump and, of the mob: “I did not recognize my fellow citizens.” Ofc. Michael Fanone slammed his fist on the table in anger at the Congressional denialists.  Ofc. Daniel Hodges described hand-to-hand fighting in “a long hallway of smoke and screams.”  Ofc. Harry Dunn, who is black, cited repeated racial slurs.

   “This is not the time for name calling,” said an angry RINO Rep. Liz Cheney (RWy).  House minority leader McCarthy ramps up mask and vax denialism; Speaker Pelosi calls him a “moron”.  Across the Capitol hall, partisans squabbled over infrastructure and what it means – experts alleging that it was crunch time on any infrastructure deal.  Crunch!

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

 Infected: 34,672,690                   Dead:  611,801                   Dow:  34,930.43 

 

More experts now say infrastructure wrangling should be termed “salvage” as the last Surfside victim is retrieved and identified and a swastika is painted on the State Dept. elevator.  Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitchy pivots, says he’ll support more wheeling and dealing.

   Felons grand and petit are tried, sentenced and jailed… Atlanta spa killer cuts a deal for life without in four of the eight murders, also guilty are the South Carolina Uber killer and Democratic druggie/donor Ed Buck.  Electric truck billionaire Trevor Milton indicted for fraud.  Indiana FedEx shooter on trial says he wanted to “demonstrate his masculinity”.  Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Al) straps on body armour while an “Iron Man” Jetpack Jerry buzzes LAX.  And Floyd redux: two cops beat and choke a black man in Aurora, Colorado (but this one lives). 

   Quarantined skateboarder calls Tokyo Olympics brass “inhumane” as the government prohibits alcohol sales, driving many bars and restaurants into bankruptcy.  Dr. Fauci receives death threats, says Delta Variant is 1,000 times more infectious… ClimSec Kerry praises young people, asks adults to “act like adults” on climate change in advance of another UN pre-summit summit in London.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

 Infected:  34,750,860                 Dead:  612,122               Dow:  35,084.53

  

 

 

Pfizer says its efficiency drops from 98 to 84% after six months, raising questions about booster shots every… uh… until, like, forever?  Not so, says Dr. Jah, only for the frail elderly.  Vaxxes (now 66.9%) and infections both up; 100,000 capacity Chicagopalooza concert deemed a Super Spreader (and it hasn’t even started yet).

   Senate votes to send infrastructure bill back to Congress as 17 Republicans defect, then the politicians flee on an early weekend, allowing the eviction moratorium to expire.  Western heat dome, which had retreated, advances all across the country, ensuring death and misery to the new homeless except in cooler Alaska, where an 8.2 EQ rattles Kodiak (but generates no tsunami).

   Biles understudy Sunisa Lee wins Olympic gold as does U.S. swimmer Caeleb Dressel.  24 more athletes get it – the toll is now 198.  NBA draft begins: first pick, Cade Cunningham, goes to Detroit where locals are already calling him “motorcade”.

 

 

 

 

 

The Space Farce, despite trolling, has to be given a positive push to the Don on the basis that it does constitute a first step in well… other… things, space tourism and inter-solar system hauling.  Enemies of capitalism will be disappointed.  They may or may not be gratified by the surge in unemployment… bad for the unemployed (especially with the eviction moratorium ending) but good in that it brings us closer to The Revolution.  Or, as Djonald Unimpeachable told a mediot… those people (the Capitol rioters he was already disassociating himself from) “looked like Democrats.”  He was perhaps more prescient than he… or we… knew.

 

 

 

 

THE DON JONES INDEX

 

CHART of CATEGORIES w/VALUE ADDED to EQUAL BASELINE of 15,000

 

(REFLECTING… approximately… DOW JONES INDEX of June 27, 2013)

 

See a further explanation of categories here

 

ECONOMIC INDICES (60%)

 

 

DON JONES’ PERSONAL ECONOMIC INDEX

 

(45% of TOTAL INDEX POINTS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATEGORY

VALUE

BASE

RESULTS

SCORE

SCORE

OUR SOURCES and COMENTS

INCOME

24%

6/17/13

LAST

CHANGE

NEXT

7/23/21

 7/30/21

SOURCE 

Wages (hourly, per capita)

9%

1350 points

 7/23/21

   +0.31%

 8/6/21

1,453.83

1,453.83

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/wages  25.68 nc

Median Income (yearly)

4%

600

 7/23/21

  +0.03%

 8/6/21

671.61

671.80

http://www.usdebtclock.org/   35,562 572

*Unempl. (BLS – in millions

4%

600

 7/23/21

   -1.70%

 8/6/21

339.87

339.87

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000/  5.9%

*Official (DC – in millions)

2%

300

 7/23/21

   +7.20%

 8/6/21

444.03

412.08

http://www.usdebtclock.org/      8.796 9,478

*Unofficl. (DC – in millions)

2%

300

 7/23/21

   +0.07%

 8/6/21

354.75

354.49

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    16,356 368

Workforce Participtn.

     Number  

     Percent

2%

300

7/23/21

 

 +0.022%

 +0.015%

 8/6/21

 

316.45

 

316.50

In 151,708 741 Out 100,243 240 Total: 251,981

 

http://www.usdebtclock.org/ 60.22

WP %  (ycharts)*

1%

150

 7/23/21

+0.16%

 8/6/21

152.23

152.23

https://ycharts.com/indicators/labor_force_participation_rate  61.60 nc

OUTGO

(15%)

Total Inflation

7%

1050

 7/23/21

+0.9%

 8/6/21

985.14

985.14

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.9 nc

Food

2%

300

 7/23/21

+0.8%

 8/6/21

278.09

278.09

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.8

Gasoline

2%

300

 7/23/21

 +2.5%

 8/6/21

268.80

268.80

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm      -2.5

Medical Costs

2%

300

 7/23/21

 nc

 8/6/21

287.06

287.06

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm        0

Shelter

2%

300

 7/23/21

+0.5%

 8/6/21

289.93

289.93

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.5

WEALTH

(6%)

 

Dow Jones Index

2%

300

 7/23/21

+0.75%

 8/6/21

375.50

378.32

https://www.wsj.com/market-data/quotes/index/DJIA 35,084.53

Home (Sales) 

   (Valuation)

1%

1%

150

150

 5/21/21

+1.03%

+3.71%

 8/6/21

170.29

182.84              

170.29

182.84              

https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics

     Sales (M):  5.86  Valuations (K):  363.3 nc

Debt (Personal)

2%

300

 7/23/21

+0.27%

 8/6/21

273.43

272,70

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    64,608

 

AMERICAN ECONOMIC INDEX (15% of TOTAL INDEX POINTS) 

NATIONAL

(10%)

 

Revenue (trilns.)

2%

300

 7/23/21

+0.14%

 8/6/21

310.42          

310.85          

debtclock.org/       3,635

Expenditures (tr.)

2%

300

 7/23/21

+0.09%

 8/6/21

219.50

219.31

debtclock.org/       6,823

National Debt tr.)

3%

450

 7/23/21

+0.095%

 8/6/21

322.23

321.93

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    28,579

Aggregate Debt (tr.)

3%

450

 7/23/21

+0.11%

 8/6/21

370.56

370.15

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    85,424

GLOBAL

(5%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Debt (tr.)

2%

300

 7/23/21

 +0.06%

 8/6/21

292.46            

292.30            

http://www.usdebtclock.org/   7,098

Exports (in billions)

1%

150

 7/23/21

 +0.49%

 8/6/21

 182.97

 182.97

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html  206.0

Imports (bl.)

1%

150

 7/23/21

 - 1.23%

 8/6/21

 119.13

 119.13

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html  277.3

Trade Deficit (bl.)

1%

150

 7/23/21

 - 3.23%

 8/6/21

   97.15            

   97.15            

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html   71.2

 

SOCIAL INDICES (40%) 

 

ACTS of MAN

(12%)

 

World Affairs

3%

450

7/23/21

    -0.2%

 8/6/21

393.02

392.21

Floods continue to drench Europe, India and (of course) the U.S.  China rejects probe of plague origins.  Tokyo anti-Oly riots wane after Japan starts racking up medals.  France churns out “Covid licenses” good for travel and dining (with money, of course).

Terrorism

2%

300

7/23/21

    -0.3%

 8/6/21

235.48

234.77

Israelis and Gaziacs trade missiles for arson balloons.  Terrorists in Nigeria kidnap 80-some schoolgirls.  Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit record high as Taliban settle scores – US plans to admit 18,000 former collaborators.

Politics

3%

450

7/23/21

       nc

 8/6/21

440.37      

440.37      

State Dept. passport backlog engenders scammers.  Trump holds rally in Arizona, says… surprise!... he really, really won the election.  On again, off again infrastructure bill on again.

Economics

3%

450

7/23/21

    +0.5%

 8/6/21

403.79   

405.81

Inflation & shortages hit school supplies, Mattel to raise holiday toy prices.  WalMart to finance employee higher education (Amazone drones get another banana).  US economy grows 6.5% for 2nd quarter, Dow cracks the 35,000 ceiling; Tesla reports record profits, other big winners are Google, Apple… who, with Netflix and the WashPost impose employee vaxx mandates.

Crime

1%

150

7/23/21

     -0.2%

 8/6/21

246.03

245.54

Dating app rats out Capitol rioter/dominatrix accused of whipping police.  13 year old “playing with a lighter” arrested for starting wildfires.  Arson (unrelated) destroys Beyonce/Jay Z. home.  Five die in Bakersfield standoff include suspect and deputy.

 

ACTS of GOD

 

(6%)

 

Environment/Weather

3%

450

 7/23/21

     +0.1%

 8/6/21

406.10

406.51

West cools off, then heats up again as heat dome shrinks, then expands and wildfires blaze on.  East cools off, then heats up again.  Oceanic warming coaxes Caribbean sharks to come north and compete with the locals for swimmers and surfers and seals.

Natural/Unnatural Disaster

3%

450

 7/23/21

    +0.3%

 8/6/21

404.48

405.69

Surfside rescue & recover teams end their mission and go home.  97 bodies were recovered.  Hero cops Rocco Fusco and Paul Samoyedny lift crashed car off of baby in Yonkers, NY.  Utah sandstorm causes traffic pileup that kills 8.  8.2EQ off Alaska coast harms nobody.

 

LIFESTYLE/JUSTICE INDEX   (15%)

 

Science, Tech, Education

4%

600

 7/23/21

+1.0%

 8/6/21

671.95

678.67

Bezos/Branson defenders tout all of the scientific progress that their flights will generate.  President Joe plots to increase “domestic content” provisions on stuff from 55% to 75%.  Back to School Day closer and closer amidst chaotic mask and vaxx protocols.

Equality (econ/social)

4%

600

 7/23/21

    -0.2%

 8/6/21

563.28

562.15

Covid long haulers get ADA protection (and speeches from Joe and Kamalala).  Impoverished renters get no protection as eviction ban ends Saturday.  Cleveland Indians change name to Guardians.  DepDef ponders bill requiring women to register for the draft. 

Health

 

     

Plague

4%

600

 7/23/21

 -0.3%

 

 

 -0.3%

 8/6/21

501.73

 

 

- 101.89

 

500.22

 

 

- 102.30

 

CDC says de-masking revives common cold.  Monkeypox cases in and around Houston up to 200.  Exploding batteries provoke second Bolt recall.  Tainted McCormick Italian Seasoning spices recalled.

 

Mask/vaxx and anti-Vaxx/Maskers battle in the streets, on airplanes and in the courts where SCOTUS cites a 1905 case legalizing mandatory smallpox vaxx mandate.  California diner serves only the unvaxxed. Former CDC head Tom Friedman says school sports are the real danger upcoming.  Current chief Walensky says Delta variant justifies return to lockdown, mask & vaxx mandates.  Weepy, wimpy vaxx fighter gets it, sobs: “I was used to being strong.”

Freedom and Justice

3%

450

 7/23/21

 -0.1%

 8/6/21

461.87

461.41

Miss. petitions SCOTUS to overturn Roe v. Wade, Trump fixer and secret UAE agent Thomas Barrack freed on $250M bail.  

 

MISCELLANEOUS and TRANSIENT INDEX           (7%)

 

Cultural incidents

3%

450

 7/23/21

+0.2%

 8/6/21

522.10

523.14

Olympics oopsies – women’s soccer team and men’s hoops team lose… the latter to the French!  US leads in medals, tho’.  Minor League baseball teams folding as plague recurs.  Freshman Cade Cunningham is NBA first draftee.  Rolling Loud hip hop fest in Miami features loud music, happy virii.  Kelly Clarkson ordered to pay $200,000/mo. to deadbeat ex.  RIP former Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mi) and Mike Enzi (R-Wy), pitchman Ron Popeil, comedian Jackie Mason, civil rights leader Robert Moses, bearded ZZ Topper Dusty Baker, meringue singer Johnny Ventura and PBS Kids’ “Arthur the Aardvark” (succumbing after 25 seasons).  ROH (rot in Hell): dating game killer Rodney Alcala.

Miscellaneous incidents

4%

450

 7/23/21

 -0.2%

 8/6/21

485.50

484.53

IPSOS poll says American poll on optimism finds optimism cratering… 64% in May to 49% now.  Disneyland reimposes mask mandate.  So does the Pentagon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Don Jones Index for the week of July 23rd through July 29th, 2021 was DOWN 25.60 points.

 

The Don Jones Index is sponsored by the Coalition for a New Consensus: retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate Jack “Catfish” Parnell, Chairman; Brian Doohan, Administrator.  The CNC denies, emphatically, allegations that the organization, as well as any of its officers (including former Congressman Parnell, environmentalist/America-Firster Austin Tillerman and cosmetics CEO Rayna Finch) and references to Parnell’s works, “Entropy and Renaissance” and “The Coming Kill-Off” are fictitious or, at best, mere pawns in the web-serial “Black Helicopters” – and promise swift, effective legal action against parties promulgating this and/or other such slanders.

Comments, complaints, donations (especially SUPERPAC donations) always welcome at feedme@generisis.com or: speak@donjonesindex.com

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE – From Various, as listed…

 

In researching a cross-section of effectively nonpartisan publications (they aren’t) as well as samples from blogs and journals of the left and right, we repeatedly encountered their attached Peanut Galleries (mostly tending to derive from sections called: Comments, but with the occasional “Reply”.

We started with the two New York Time scrutinies of Amazon employee-relations problems… one from 2015 after the introduction of the controversy at the “fulfillment centers”, the other more recently (June 15, 2021).  (Attachments 1A and 1B)  In all cases, we first reproduced the inciting article, then followed up with some (or all) of the readers’ statements.  (Where there were too many to list, we deleted sections ranging from individual responses that were obscene, off-topic or just irrelevant… we also cut off the latter NYT comments for reasons of space and time.)

Next, we listed a few of the responses to the voyages from the Left… specifically Slate (One C), the Guardian UK (one D) and the Huffington Post (which, in addition to its usual comments… One E… published a roster of comedic comments from professional and amateur wags… One F).  To balance the scales, we then included Fox News (One G) and Breitbart (which latter… One H… proved disappointing).

Finally, we reproduced an essay (Attachment One H) by one Professor Scott Galloway, identified as an academic and pitchman for unusual investment strategies… one of those guys in a rented ballroom who promises to double your money in 23 hours, just trust him (and watch the money drop from the clouds).  His take on the Branson/Bezo voyages was unflattering, but largely from the financial point of view.

In most (but not all) cases, the attitudes of the Peanuts tended to reflect the views of their patron, but a few contrary examples popped up.  As did short dialogues between Peanuts with differing takes on Professor Galloway’s views. 

(DJI note #1:  The names, or initials, of contributors to the PG have been shuffled to protect the guilty.  News media customarily cuts off comments after a few days or week, but if you are inspired to hunt down a peanut whose opinions you particularly care to prize or purge or to pitch in your two cents on any related topic, news explications and comment solicitations are perennial as the weeds of summer, so have at it.)

(DJI note #2:  While we wish to limit editorial comment on editorial comments from the public (which we sometimes can’t resist doing, noted in RED, certain posts or portions of thereof are notable for an abundance of wisdom or foolishness… you determine.  As befits yellow journalism, these are highlighted in yellow.  We have also left grammatical and spelling errors as the posters posted them, except in the few cases that same rendered the content un-intelligible.)

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (A) – From the New York Times (2015)

 

INSIDE AMAZON – WRESTLING BIG IDEAS IN A BRUISINGWORKPLACE

 

SEATTLE — On Monday mornings, fresh recruits line up for an orientation intended to catapult them into Amazon’s singular way of working.

They are told to forget the “poor habits” they learned at previous jobs, one employee recalled. When they “hit the wall” from the unrelenting pace, there is only one solution: “Climb the wall,” others reported. To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards. When quizzed days later, those with perfect scores earn a virtual award proclaiming, “I’m Peculiar” — the company’s proud phrase for overturning workplace conventions.

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

Many of the newcomers filing in on Mondays may not be there in a few years. The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock. Losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff — “purposeful Darwinism,” one former Amazon human resources director said. Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.

(Read the remainder of the article here.)

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES (2015) PEANUT GALLERY

 

FROM WP: Amazon was a lifesaver for my elderly parents during the pandemic and kept millions of people working with far less exposure to COVID-19 than what front-line retail workers faced. Amazon provides much lower prices and selection than the medical supply store 20 mi away. Amazon can pay more more for workers than retail employees because their jobs are more productive. We still shop at other online retailers so there is competition. Its a free country. NYT readers, I'm not sure what problem are you trying to solve here.

 

FROM WA: I was thrilled to hear Bezos was going to outer space and then very disappointed to find that he intends to return. For the past year and a half we have been working hard towards weaning from the Amazon habit. Bezos may not miss us, but it has to start somewhere. Excellent reporting, thank you NY Times.

 

FROM GN: Yet another reason not to shop with them. This article confirmed many of my suspicions about how Amazon treats its workforce.

 

FROM RG: Perhaps Amazon has discovered the limits of how large a private organization can get, without the use of harsher disciplines used for government militaries. Only rarely are paradigms appreciated before they unravel. Bigger isn’t always better.

 

FROM DS: As a shopper for The Dark Side (aka Amazon) I agree whole-heartedly with many valid and worthy comments in response to this article. Where LL Bean had a blowout year financially in 2020 and gave all its employees huge end of year profit sharing bonuses, Amazon instead continues to enrich it's founder and blow through employees. All of the metrics used for shoppers and warehouse workers are just fodder for the inevitable replacement of these 'human fulfillment jobs' with robots in the next few years. Robots are already being tested for such jobs in Europe and surely Amazon is already eyeing them for their own operations as soon as it is viable. In the US, for those with financial means, convenience is taking precedence over concern for the workers fulfilling our orders, the impact our choices have on the planet (environmentally & economically), and how it is creating a monster that swoops in and kills local small businsesses, etc... Kudos to all who are boycotting purchasing through Amazon and it's affiliated channels. If enough people 'woke up' and 'committed to changing choices/habits' maybe we could save our world from the evils of Amazon and the like.

 

FROM IL: I shopped at a Wal-Mart in the 1980s because in the small town I lived in, it was "the store." It was depressing - the employees looked miserable, the managers harried and the store itself a disorganized mess. I never shop there. It's a viscerally bad experience. But, shopping at Amazon is great, in theory. I don't see the workers pack the boxes and get them on the trucks. I don't even see the delivery person, who may be a contracted worker making less than minimum wage. I order it, it shows up. So, it's easy to not feel anything for the people doing the actual work at Amazon. Stories like this change that feeling, at least for me. Names and faces bring their plight to life. For an extended take on this issue, I  the Amazon chapters in the book (not the movie) "Nomadland."

 

FROM SJ: Unions are needed for all workers both skilled and unskilled, college educated or not. If workers want a voice at the table and feel valued as a human being then laws need to be changed. The onus needs to be shifted onto the employer. For every company, unions are mandatory unless voted out by the employees. Workers that elect not to vote get tallied as a "yes"- I'm for the union.

 

FROM WE: Between their penchant for taking a loss on certain items in order to stifle competition with mom and pop businesses, charging others who sell on their platform fees, and the abuse in their warehouses, it s hard to justify continuing patronizing Amazon, in spite of the convenience. A friend who lives in Palm Springs took a job with Amazon. He lasted nearly a month before quitting out of exhaustion. His hours kept being changed and he couldn't deal with either the pressure or the inconsistencies. He also said he had close calls with some of the robots on the floor. It is widely reported that neither Jeff Bezos personally, or Amazon, as a company pay taxes. Can someone explain this to me?

 

FROM CM: Amazon appears to pay a decent wage and give good health benefits compared to similar jobs in the USA . If they tone down the employee micromanagement, promote from the inside, and especially, get rid of bots automatically firing employees, it could be a O.K job.

 

FROM MP: As a retired VP of HR at a Silicon Valley telecom company, I'm painfully aware of the hazards of hearing one side of a story from disgruntled employees. And this paper's political inclinations has almost certainly presented JUST one side. Amazon is a legendary success and its founder has displayed exemplary concern for ethical and caring treatment of its workers. There are plenty of balanced stories that provide a more complete picture but it's obvious from the readers' comments that they're more than willing to accept just the employees' perspectives.

 

FROM PF: I stopped shopping at Amazon when I first heard how impossible the schedule of their contract delivery drivers were. Workers get injured on the road, just like at the warehouses.

 

FROM NJ: I'm deeply troubled after reading this article. Mr. Bezos is treating human beings like robots. I felt like I was reading a dystopian novel. I will be selling my 2 Amazon stock s DJI – BAD MOVE! and will be cancelling my Prime membership. Bezos should be ashamed of himself. He's so out of touch.

 

FROM BM: Jeff Bezos built a better mouse trap, plane and simple, and that’s why he’s so rich. He’s also anti-union, but maybe not as anti-union as Henry Ford was. If you expect the ultra rich to be fair you haven’t lived long enough. It’s up to workers to demand fair representation, but the last time they had a vote 70% rejected it. What’s left to say?

 

FROM RS: Nothing new here, the whole of our economic system is geared towards high profits for the few, at the expense of a cheap labor force, the large majority. In terms of hiring and firing, Bezos is following Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize for his decision making theories. Kahneman found out that interviews and the human element were actually the weak part of human resources, while "objective" hiring ( computers) proved more accurate and less biased.

 

FROM PS: Amid the vast implications of this article, one stands out for me as an example of the human struggle for dignity and worth: Please tell us the outcome of Mr. Castillo's struggle for life.

 

FROM DP: It really is like that old line that knowing how sausages are made will turn you right off eating them. Apart from the obvious (richest man in the world - Jeff Bezos, still in the top 2 or 3 richest after his divorce, vs. how much or little Amazon's frontline workers make), the thing that I find really hard to swallow is that a company that prides itself on its ability to make data-driven decisions has such a dysfunctional HR setup. I don't think I am alone here wondering how much of that inefficiency and ineptitude is purposefully planned, rather than accidental. After all, Jeff Bezos believes that his employees are naturally lazy, so keeping them in a constant state of anxiety or downright fear is a convenient mental whip that keeps them in line and plugging away. Of course, that management by fear has severe consequences, including the ones reported here, and also provides the high employee turnover rates that Amazon's leadership wants to see.

 

FROM KR: My dad worked at a gas station for minimum wage and zero benefits. Not even a day off. It was outside even in rain in snow. His bosses were ruthless who literally ran after pennies. When he became disabled they even refused to fill paperwork for disability. He would have loved to work for Amazon without any complaints.

 

FROM SS: I worked for Amazon for a few years. It was great considering how easy it was. Most complainers are lazy and entitled ones and they either quit or get fired eventually. The worst part is working with the managers who are either recent college graduate or ex-military, most of them are clueless what is actually happening on the floor, so absorbed they are watching the metrics on their laptops.

 

FROM DJ: I worked at Amazon. We can do better as human than to treat another human like this.

 

FROM JO: Please, nearly $18 an hour, with current housing prices, inflation, etc, that is the new poverty level. Do not be fooled that it is anything more. And we wonder why the middle class has been disappearing and the poor get poorer. Look no further than Bezos and his ilk from Uber and Airbnb, who get richer and richer on the backs of low paying folks. These would have been good jobs in the 70's for college and high school students.

 

FROM MD: These work practices are mediaeval in their treatment of workers. Bezos sees himself as king, his managers his dukes and the rest are serfs to be disposed of without so much as a care. All the fancy technology can't change the fact that this is pre-Renaissance serfdom writ large.

 

 

FROM CM: But if Amazon workers are treated as human beings instead of disposable cogs in a machine, Jeff Bezos might not be able to play astronaut on his very own private spacecraft. Think of how damaging that would be to him. These employees need to stop complaining and get to work!

 

FROM BB: Regarding the statement quoted from an employee’s post: “We are not tools used to make their daily/weekly goals and rates.” You certainly are. That to me is the very definition of an employee. What’s the problem?

 

FROM CA: Amazon is an amazingly innovative and well-run company, that offers some of the best customer service anywhere in American business. Its detractors tend to be butt-hurt bureaucrats and those who trade on its platform but would prefer not to pay the required toll. As for employees, the complaints seem to come from unskilled hourly workers who are at Amazon for its above-market pay and benefits, but would just as soon not be driven quite so hard to perform. And I'm certain you could find a cadre of such workers among an group of workers with limited prospects and few attractive alternatives. More recently, however, the American left is painting this picture of Amazon as some Orwellian nightmare, as though we are marching people into its warehouses at gun point. Jeff Bezos built an amazing company but his success is being perverted into a general meme of class warfare, supporting the left's class envy demands for all-powerful labor unions, wealth redistribution, confiscatory taxation, etc. Indeed,Ezra Klein has a piece in today's edition advocating expanding the federal budget by 20 percent to provide a basic minimum income to spare people of cruelty and indignity of having to work at places like Amazon. OK, under emergency conditions, some of Amazon's employee relations systems did not work so well. Does that really merit the type of Draconian reproach that is at the heart of this article? No, but it supports the broader class warfare agenda.

 

FROM HH: I would disagree with Bezos that all people are inherently lazy. After decades in the workplace, there are some people who are lazy but they are less than 10% in my opinion. I wish the NYT had sought out people in other locations. I'm familiar with Staten Island and it is not representative of workers in other areas.

 

FROM PJ: Cogs in a machine. And disposable cogs at that.

 

FROM NJ: It is hilarious because Amazon provides the best pay and benefits these workers can get almost anywhere, period. If you feel otherwise feel free to switch jobs or let us know right here. Doesn’t matter how hard NYT try to blame Amazon none of these authors could even suggest another place that could pay $18 and provide very cheap health insurance and full array of benefits for an entry level position. Go and find me one PLEASE.

 

FROM LJ: Maybe MacKenzie Scott can donate some of the billions she is giving away to the Amazon workers her ex is so clearly abusing. Or better yet, maybe she could help fund union drives at these warehouses. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold.

 

FROM LS: Frederick Winslow Taylor is alive and well. He would be so proud of Jeff.

 

FROM ME: This is why I don't shop at Amazon. We let our Prime membership expire in 2018 and I've had no regrets. Prior to that, I was becoming increasingly skeptical and frustrated by the quality and genuine-ness of their third party merchandise but the horror stories I was hearing about how they treated their employees was the final straw. We can all make more conscioua, thoughtful choices on where we spend our money and I hope stories like this make more people reconsider spending with Amazon.

 

FROM BM: While human capital has been touted to be a company's most valuable asset, Mr. Bezos seems to have been asleep when the topic came up for discussion in his business classes. His management style is reminiscent of the old time-motion experiments conducted in the 1920s by psychologist-Frederick W. Taylor who placed industrial workers in the category of efficiency machines who could be manipulated to achieve maximum output in increasingly shorter periods of time. It's unfortunate for those who labor in Mr. Bezo's sprawling empire that his visionary genius has far outpaced his humanity and concern for his employees.

 

FROM MD: Read Alec MacGillis' book, "Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America" for an excellent review of how Amazon is destroying American communities and peoples' lives - playing off one city against another and receiving multiyear tax concessions, while Bezos himself is opposed to paying any taxes himself and is successful. Let the little people provide roads and infrastructure to enable Amazon to deliver, in many cases, the junk that Americans buy. Local emergency responders treat accident victims in Amazon warehouses while Amazon does not pay the local communities with taxes with which to support local responders. Bezos is laughing all the way to the bank.

 

FROM SJ: The same is true for all companies and all people who are not carrying their fair  of the tax burden. Both receive the benefits of infrastructure and services provided by municipal government. We have the power to easily shake the power structure and get their immediate attention. We all make a pact with one another: Until all loopholes for tax evasion enjoyed by the priviledged are closed, we change our withholding to the minimum allowed and do not mail in our 1040's. We encourage all those owed a refund to please file your return.

 

FROM JN: Americans need to decide want they want: fast, cheap goods delivered to their door or amazing workplaces, US-based manufacturing and an improved climate. Amazon is fulfilling a market desire/need. People now want and expect good delivered almost instantaneously. There is a human cost to that on the other end. Amazon's culture has always been ruthless, but we allow it by how and where we spend our money. We can't continue to have an endless stream of fast, cheap goods w/o at some point understanding the human and global impact of cheap, imported goods and the subsequent delivery systems.

 

FROM LT: Amazing how some things never change. And technology can worsen things if the thinking behind it (especially HR programs that can’t capture the totality of human beings as opposed to robots) is flawed. “Modern Times” a century later. On the other hand, I applaud Amazon’s mostly solid pay scales and benefits. It took a page from Starbucks’s handbook. Both pioneered in Seattle, the city that has produced so many companies stressing customer service as the holy grail (others: Costco, Nordstrom, yes, even Microsoft).

 

FROM CR: This is awful for the workers and the process people. Hard to see how the logistics system could cope with the Covid demand shift. But part of the problem appears to be what Chandler wrote about in Strategy and Structure - new Growth strategy is misaligned with the organizations structure, where the solution was to follow the empire builder (Bezos) with a organizational designer type personality who ensured the structure aligned with the additional growth. Since Amazon has gained customers, revenue and profit, executives like Clark are probably concluding they are over the hump and solved the problems. Good Eggs may have a chance to create a better model and show workers there is a better way than Malthus & Taylor.

 

FROM GM: As much as I'd like to not buy from Amazon I'm sorry to say I'm still very much 'dependent' on this method of shopping.

 

FROM EM: Bezos developing any sort of empathy is likely never going to happen...he's moved on with his pie in the sky space dreams. If he'd been made to pay taxes like his workers, scaled to the size of his wealth, he might have built a better system for them. Right now they are treated like Heidegger's 'standing reserve', cogs in Bezos' flywheel; disposable.

 

FROM BS: This is 21st-Century America.

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (B) – From the New York Times (2021)

 

THE AMAZON THAT CUSTOMERS DON’T SEE

 

LAST SEPTEMBER, Ann Castillo saw an email from Amazon that made no sense. Her husband had worked for the company for five years, most recently at the supersize warehouse on Staten Island that served as the retailer’s critical pipeline to New York City. Now it wanted him back on the night shift.

“We notified your manager and H.R. about your return to work on Oct. 1, 2020,” the message said.

Ms. Castillo was incredulous. While working mandatory overtime in the spring, her 42-year-old husband, Alberto, had been among the first wave of employees at the site to test positive for the coronavirus. Ravaged by fevers and infections, he suffered extensive brain damage. On tests of responsiveness, Ms. Castillo said, “his score was almost nothing.”

For months, Ms. Castillo, a polite, get-it-done physical therapist, had been alerting the company that her husband, who had been proud to work for the retail giant, was severely ill. The responses were disjointed and confusing. Emails and calls to Amazon’s automated systems often dead-ended. The company’s benefits were generous, but she had been left panicking as disability payments mysteriously halted. She managed to speak to several human resources workers, one of whom reinstated the payments, but after that, the dialogue mostly reverted to phone trees, auto-replies and voice mail messages on her husband’s phone asking if he was coming back.

The return-to-work summons deepened her suspicion that Amazon didn’t fully register his situation. “Haven’t they kept track of what happened to him?” she said. She wanted to ask the company: “Are your workers disposable? Can you just replace them?”

Mr. Castillo’s workplace, the only Amazon fulfillment center in America’s largest city, was achieving the impossible during the pandemic. With New York’s classic industries suffering mass collapse, the warehouse, called JFK8, absorbed hotel workers, actors, bartenders and dancers, paying nearly $18 an hour. Driven by a new sense of mission to serve customers afraid to shop in person, JFK8 helped Amazon smash shipping records, reach stratospheric sales and book the equivalent of the previous three years’ profits rolled into one.

That success, speed and agility were possible because Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, had pioneered new ways of mass-managing people through technology, relying on a maze of systems that minimized human contact to grow unconstrained.

But the company was faltering in ways outsiders could not see, according to a New York Times examination of JFK8 over the last year.

In contrast to its precise, sophisticated processing of packages, Amazon’s model for managing people — heavily reliant on metrics, apps and chatbots — was uneven and strained even before the coronavirus arrived, with employees often having to act as their own caseworkers, interviews and records show. Amid the pandemic, Amazon’s system burned through workers, resulted in inadvertent firings and stalled benefits, and impeded communication, casting a shadow over a business success story for the ages.

 

(Read the remainder of the article here.)

 

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES (2021) PEANUT GALLERY

 

FROM NL: This is HILARIOUS. Bezos develops an almost totally automated “customer support” system (annoying and useless unto itself) and then turns around and tries to do the same stupid thing to his own company! The results are no surprise. People do not matter to him.

No wonder he’s heading into space!

 

FROM VD: One of the reasons I avoid Amazon if possible when buying online. Seems like Bezos may be too rich for his employees good.

The turnover rate rivals that in the fast food industry which will fire employees for questioning wage discrepancies. The Times needs to do a study on that industry. Franchise owner know most employees haven't the time or money to contest wage discrepancies.

 

FROM HT: "The system was designed to identify impediments a worker may face, but some executives, including the early architect of Amazon’s warehouse human relations, worry that the metrics now cast an outsize shadow on the work force, creating an anxious, negative environment."

Workers in big tech other than Amazon face similar dilemmas. My son gives his employers 100% (they've told him so) yet can be given a bad review if a client offers a negative feedback, the result of company policy on his/her issue and not how their case has been handled by the individual in tech support.

So the skills employed by the individual employee are irrelevant if a client is unhappy with the company rules being applied by the person who is doing their damnedest to help resolve their issue.

Big tech does not equate to big smarts.

 

FROM SP: I cannot understand why everyone in America needs things like, yesterday. We don’t have Amazon here, and we don’t miss it. There is an understanding here of the social contract that we have with one another and society. We want adults to have jobs with as little stress as possible. We want people to have family time as well as time to walk in the forest and collect their thoughts.

Perhaps it’s time for Americans to stop buying so many things. Also, stop listening to all the advertisements for medicines that constantly run on television in the US. Some people are seriously ill, but many people are likely ill due to too much sitting and too much food. Over- consumption is never attractive.

 

FROM PC: There are times when overnight is necessary, but I'd rather patronize other on-line retailers. Plus, it seems that with every Amazon delivery, my wife and I comment at how absolutely wasteful and inefficient - and often ineffective - their packaging is. And then there all their delivery trucks which "park" even more rantly than UPS drivers. Still, I offer thanks to all the Amazon workers who put up with all the "stuff" to make life more convenient for those of us lucky enough to afford it.

 

FROM HJ: It’s a zero sum game. The well to do didn’t suffer during the pandemic at all. If anything, they thrived. They thrived because they could comfortably order stuff from Amazon with their cards connected to bank accounts flush with money.

The people who paid the price were the ones who lost their jobs because of covid restrictions, because of govt.’s dragging of feet in helping them and the rampant immoralist capitalism that took root during this time. Inequity has only increased further.

This article (and the other one) doesn’t surprise me one bit :(

 

FROM JG: Ah yes poor Jeff Bezos is he a trazillionaire already? Just a thought but why can’t workers enjoy the fruits of their labor also or not pay taxes also or get paid a decent wage also? Perhaps the answer is they vote republican.

 

FROM FB: In other words, this is a trial run for replacing humans with robots

 

FROM NA: nothing is for free/cheap for no reason.  unless willing to pay more for better quality of material and life, nothing will likely change.   these work conditions have always been in place in other countries- thus political instability.   everything has a cost.

 

FROM DJ: Nomadland (the book by Jessica Bruder) has chapter on the van-lifers and RVers who join Amazon’s CamperForce program. These folks are retirees and others who work in fulfillment centers during seasonal demand periods, while living in their vehicles at participating campgrounds, often miles from work. The hours are grueling and the conditions much as depicted in this article. Bruder quit after one shift. Nomadic temporary workers don’t ask for much (or get much). Older workers often have few alternatives. Some view this a a way to quickly make some money to finance their nomadic lifestyle, but it’s also a way for Amazon to avoid responsibility for a more permanent workforce. Ironically, I bought the book in Kindle format on the Amazon website.

 

FROM MS: My main concern is how this makes it so easy to buy China merchandise. It's an impediment to buying local and buying American made. Amazon has made it impossible to find American made categories of products.

 

FROM SS: As an HR Professional, I have been approached numerous times by recruiters trying to fill Amazon HR positions.  No thank you.  It is well known that Amazon is a toxic environment with very little opportunity for real change.  Nobody with an ounce of integrity in HR lasts long - that to me is telling of how they treat their line workers.  Again, no thank you.  This article has really made me question my patronage of Amazon as well - we all need to assess our contributions to this type of organization.

 

FROM FD: America wants quick delivery and we want cheap prices. The consequence is a labor force that is pushed to the limit and paid next to nothing. Jeff Bezos is not the problem alone. He does everything to give us what we want. He does not posse magic but before he leaves Amazon he can slow things down, lessen the stress and all of us recognize that three day delivery is much better than one day delivery. At the same time all of us must understand that no one has yet created a warehouse processing system that will be free of tedium and strain.

 

FROM BG: What if we were to have a Don't Buy on Amazon Day?  Just to let the company know how many of its customers disagree with the way they treat their workers?

 

(Or… what if the workers had a Conform to the Bathroom Breaks as Dictated By Your Betters; Don’t Use the Coke Bottles and Just Let the Urine Flow into the Clothes You Wear Day After Day Day?  Would the FC boss (or the machine) fire and replace the entire FC crew when the smell became unbearable… or have they acquired a sort of moral coronavirus that has eradicated their sense of smell? -  DJI)

 

FROM NA: Cannot trillion-dollar ventures profit without reducing their workers to degraded drones forced to sell their lives for miserable pittances? America needs some good old-fashioned labor unrest.

 

FROM CH: "...our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need,”

This is a core value for efficiency expert Frank Bunker Gilbreth (1868 – 1924) (of 'Cheaper by the Dozen' fame) who, on visiting a factory for the first time, is reputed to have asked to observe the laziest workers since that laziness will compel the worker to adopt the most efficient behaviors and practices.

 

FROM HP: Forty years ago, I was an IBM employee working on a project at a catalog mail order company.  That business was similar to Amazon except orders were received by mail.

The attitude of management toward the workers was much the same as the Times article describes at Amazon.  Fortunately for the workers, it was a union shop.  Otherwise, it would have been a sweat shop!

The Director of Human Resources had signs posted throughout the company's buildings stating: "Employees are obligated to be loyal to the company."

When I asked the HR Director if the opposite was also true, that the company had to be loyal to the employees, his quick  was, "Of course not!"I wonder if the Southern Plantation slave owners had the same productivity metrics for their workers?  Like the Amazon workers, the slaves could either be punished (whipped) or fired (sold off) or both.  An apt analogy.

 

FROM RW: I wish someone would explain why the Union movement was voted down by Amazon workers if things are so universally wretched?

 

 FROM NM: As a former employee of Amazon, they terminated me for "violating company policy" which is a  lie because when I asked which one I violated they weren't able to give me a straight answer. While I did appeal, the person on the phone didn't want to be on it. In fact, they already had made their mind up about the decision.... They need to be unionized or they will continue taking advantage of their workers.. 10 hours of physical labor is inhumane with only 2 15 min breaks. Also, the system tracks your every move. If you aren't working for even a second, the system records it and you get a warning....

Thankfully, there's benefits (not much) but I read this article and it is on point... It's basically a slave labor camp where they think you're a robot 🤖. You can't listen to music, talk to the person next to you, have your phone and masks, masks, masks because of you don't, they will fine you and possibly fire you.

Bottom line : If you want to work here thinking you'll get free Amazon stuff, think again. All you get is an employee discount and that's it. I was purged from the system /network as if I never existed with nary a thank you. Just a check from my 401K.

 

FROM OJ: Amazon seems to treat is employees like worker bees. They have to do better, this isn’t China and it’s not 1905.

 

FROM MW:

I don't know why it's so important to get stuff in two days.  Let alone one day.  3-5 days is fine for "free" shipping.  Right? I'd rather have that than these horrible workers' conditions.

 

FROM AC: "Inherently lazy workers"...a quote from Bezo's who tracks every second it takes for a task. What kind of person does such things?

Answer: A throwback to the greed of early American sweat shops that locked doors of work areas and employed underage children to work in dangerous environments for long hours for low wages.  This sad present day technological spin on the age old practice of exploiting workers needs some long overdue intervention, ASAP.

 

FROM MK: He believed that an entrenched work force created a “march to mediocrity,”

I have worked in a warehouse for over 40 years. Length of service has no correlation to the enthusiasm or productivity of my co-workers.

Higher turnover just pads the training department, makes working safely more difficult, and ignores the benefits of institutional  knowledge.  It does make any sort of retirement benefits illusory and a highly likely the next employer will be paying the price for the repetitive motion injuries that occurred while working for Amazon.

 

FROM UA: My spouse works in HR/Recruiting for a non-Amazon facility. His employees are treated like this as well; as an associate, he can't really help the employees, so it's driven him to look elsewhere.

Long story short: sadly this treatment is not uncommon for blue collar workers.

 

FROM HR: This is the result of 4 decades of union busting in the US.

 

FROM YA: Ive never worked for Amazon which is how I know, NONE of this is unique to Amazon.  The issues in this article are common to every employer ive had in the last 15 years - except - most of the time - health insurance wasnt even a benefit

 

FROM JN: I order and buy my stuff from local shops but so many times I cannot find the items I need. I end up having to go through Amazon simply because it is the only place where I can find many items I use. For example Trader Joes and Publix stopped offering Soy Milk, a staple in my home. So it depends of where you live! As it is I am going to about 5 stores regularly because non one of them has all the items I use. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Publix, Walmart, Target and a local fruit and vegetable store ...... I try to order only when needed and not next day delivery.  All in all I wish  Amazon would not exist.

 

FROM BR: There is nothing inherent in Amazon’s business vision that makes the company cringeworthy. (I like to order things online that I wouldn’t otherwise find and have them delivered to my door.) What is poisonous about Amazon comes from a management mindset emanating from Bezos himself: the notion that people are inherently lazy and need to be whipped to be productive for a short while before being discarded. Amazon’s exercise of “market power” is anti-competitive. The company should be broken up.

 

FROM TJ: My understanding is that Amazon has an abysmal health and safety record compared to its peers.

A poor safety culture across the board - JFK8's injury rate is almost 4x more than the industry average.

Typical metric for emphasizing production over safety - that is the real Amazon culture.

 

FROM SG: As a white collar worker at Amazon, this same culture exists even when you’re paid in six figures. It’s brutal, taxing and there’s no end to it.

And yet the machine chugs along, because we all can’t stop buying things quickly. When the employees are too busy working and don’t have time to shop around, guess who wins? The everything online store.

 

FROM BM: One of the unfortunate consequences of the pandemic is that people came to depend upon Amazon for many of their their goods. As society opens up, it’s a habit that will be hard to break.

 

FROM GC: If the workers understood that without them Jeff Bezos wouldn't be worth a nickle, then maybe they'd form a union and put an end to the usury. And until they do, they should expect more of the same and worse.

Ever heard of the Wobblies? Now that's a word that will strike fear into the leadership of any exploitative organization. The Wobblies were the members of the IWW, an international labor movement founded in Chicago in 1905.They had only one rule for membership: you had to work with your hands. Which meant that women, and people of color, etc, etc, were all treated equally. Which was a pretty radical and progressive idea in 1905. In fact, in many places, 116 years later, it still is.If workers aren't being treated fairly and with respect then the only way they're going to get it is to organize, because negotiating power is the only thing callous business leaders understand.Without a union, Bezos is free to fire anyone he choose, anytime he chooses, for any reason he chooses, because each individual worker acts alone - and by default only has the power of one individual.With a union, the power of every worker is multiplied by every other worker. And that means if they wanted to, they could put Bezos out of business overnight.

That's the difference.

The only people who are truly anti-union are people who's massive fortunes are made off the usury of other people, their sweat, their labor, and their toil. Remember that the next time you hear ANYONE denouncing them.  (THAT AND THE MOB - DJI)

 

FROM EP: Amazon may be an awful employer, but why doesn't this doesn't their article cite reputable surveys of Amazon employees?

I've asked a few Amazon employees about work conditions at Amzzon. They said that the conditions are satisfactory.  Does that mean that the the conditions are satisfactory?  Nope. Netiher my anecdote nor the anecdotal evidence in this article are sufficient to evaluate how well Amazon treats its work force.

 

FROM SS: "Outsiders see a business success story for the ages. Many insiders see an employment system under strain."

Before the piece even starts, we get a preemptive dose of NYT professional-managerial-bubble conventional wisdom. I think I qualify as an "outsider," as I have never worked for Amazon, and don't even use Amazon. And yet, because I can use my brain and read books/articles by, and/or heard podcasts with, authors like Alec MacGillis and Emily Guendelsberger, I'm well aware of Amazon's many glaring faults. I don't have a copy of the style guide in front of me, and I know journalists write for a specific audience, but at this point I think it's fair to say many people know about Amazon's many problematic business practices -- including some that are not only unethical and inhuman but probably illegal -- as well as the degree to which our representatives in DC are in thrall to (or simply outright captured by) them.

And regarding "Time Off Task," I suppose it's good that the company is "reconsidering" the draconian sci-fi surveillance apparatus that dings people simply for having flesh and blood bodies with flesh and blood needs, but the fact that it took years and multiple high-profile stories before it occurred to management that their practices were inhumane really doesn't say anything good about our elite management class.

 

FROM NV: Bezos is the modern day slave owner, only he does it through owning a corporation that pays "little to no taxes".

We as a society are guilty for how corporations work, because we continually purchase products from those companies. Our purchases rewards bad behavior.  If you were truly upset in how Bezos treats his employees, you wouldn't buy product from Amazon.

 

FROM VD: I joined Amazon last fall for COVID Xmas practical reasons.  I was shocked, annoyed and stunned as to how much the Amazon business model had deviated from the first 6-10 years.  Now they are simply a portal for third party vendors from far flung countries to have the means to sell their mostly junk wares - never seen anywhere before so many complaints across the board.  Meanwhile, both small online and shop business owners gets extinguished.

My pet peeve: doing a search on an item / brand name and getting PAGES of items that have nothing to do with my search.  It is bad enough to get the same when I do get just a handful of related results that are mixed within the numerous pages.  So rare to get the correct results show up on page 1 no matter how many attempts done in the wording in the search field.

The reporting about Amazon with these two excellent NYT articles and the equally excellent comments here just cements what we all already knew: the zenith of corporate greed of one man at the expense of people and all things.

 

FROM LS: (I)t seems like lots of reputable companies have mostly abandoned Amazon, selling their newest and best items on their own sites.  And there are lots of counterfeit items as well.

 

FROM PR: "Company data showed that most employees became less eager over time, he said, and Mr. Bezos believed that people were inherently lazy."

Interesting—the combination of "Company data showed" and "Mr. Bezos believed" in the same sentence but in different independent clauses. How are we supposed to interpret that?

Did Ms Kantor get the Pulitzer for writing things like that?

 

FROM SZ: What folks don't see is that, from a business standpoint, it makes sense to have EVERYTHING under one umbrella, just like the proverbial "company store." This way employers can do as they please and the workers can take it or leave it.

And the wheels of the bus go round and round, Bezos and his ilk enjoying the finest of foods, the finest of homes, the finest medical care, instant travel anywhere on the planet, while the unwashed hordes have to work 2-3 jobs and still decide whether to pay the rent, the lights, the phone or the car this month.

My friends, this is a big reason I did not have children. I know kids who still live at home at 30 because, really ,what's waiting for them out there? Any future? Besides "YouTube star?" Or, for women and gay dudes, OnlyFans and PornHub?

 

FROM CG: Did Kafka write this? "[they]...worked hard to contact employees before they were fired to see if they wanted to keep their jobs."

 

FROM JJ: Being a business owner, this strategy of Amazon treats humans like animals. Where is the social responsibility?

I can’t image having to work like that every day.

 

FROM BM: Amazon is vile. I miss my local hardware store.

 

FROM WN: Watch the movie Metropolis from 1927.  Nothing has changed in the 100 years since this cautionary silent classic was made

 

FROM VK: How different a direction the employees could be headed in if union efforts in Alabama had not failed. I am 60 and I have never seen a sector NEED unionization more. It would've created the leverage they needed in the US.

"He believed that an entrenched work force created a “march to mediocrity,” said David Niekerk, a former long-serving vice president who built the company’s original human resources operations in the warehouses."

Obviously he had/has an "entrenched" belief in a never-ending supply of workers!!!

I, for one, put my money and business where my mouth is. I order from AMZ maybe 3 times a year when I have exhausted ALL other efforts to find a particular item. I buy from other entities because I believe in supporting brick-n-mortar stores/businesses lest we lose them all to AMZ and I don't believe in supporting those who treat their workers so inhumanely. How great it would be if everyone did that and decreased Amazon's monopoly.

I'm just sayin"

 

FROM BJ: Amazon represents the current state of 50 years of effort to delegitimize, weaken, and dismantle unions in the US. Since Reagan, this effort has accelerated, and while primarily it has been Republican led states and Congress doing it, there has been only weak efforts by Democrats to restore the access and equality of unions and workers with the management and capital that have emerged on top. There is a huge imbalance between workers and management/capital in our economy. We see it's outcomes in the great wealth and income inequality in our country, the effects of which are everywhere, tearing our country apart. Putting profits and "holder value" above everything else will, eventually, lead to the whole system collapsing.

 

FROM VA: Because the job consists of such repetitive movement, and because management, due to the nature of the job, cannot rotate workers who report pain, I often thought that if the turn-over rate was not high, then the carpal tunnel rate would be high.

Amazon was not the worst job I've had. But it is a bad job, and the fact that they are one of largest employers is bad news for labor.

 

FROM JT: As a former restaurant industry executive I can assure you that restaurants are carefully studying Amazon and eager to try to import/improve its model. 

The problem is not really Bezos and his crew.  Their sin is they excellent at capitalism.  The problem is the sea they swim in.

The labor movement 1019-1970 gave us the 8 hour workday, the 5 day workweek, overtime, and other things.  But it is faded and nothing has adequately replaced it.

 

FROM DC: Nonsense JT.  The easy way is to fire people.  The right way and the most cost effective way is to fix them (ITALICS ADDED- DJI). 

 

FROM VB:  The problem is not really Bezos and his crew (JT).  Their sin is they excellent at capitalism.  The problem is the sea they swim in.”

No. Bezos and his crew are indeed the problem. Excellence at capitalism does not require Amazon’s deplorable treatment of the employees whose sweat and labor have swollen Bezos’ personal fortune to a level greater than the GDP of some nations. A little bit of humanity seems to be beyond Bezos’ capacity to institute; his empty declarations just don’t cut it. But then, who on Earth would be satisfied with $100 billion when he could be worth twice that much?

 

FROM CB: NO, JT, The labor movement has not "faded". The labor movement, and unions, have been systematically attacked and dismantled, weakened and eroded both politically and privately at the local, state, and federal level for 50 years. The labor movement has not "faded" -- it has been assaulted in an attempted murder.

 

FROM HJ: A couple years ago, my son spent a Christmas season working at an Amazon warehouse near Seattle.

His description of his work day brought to mind the wrench-wielding Charlie Chaplin in 'Modern Times'. The production goals (each "picker" was expected to find 180 items for delivery per hour - one item every 30 seconds) were nearly impossible to achieve throughout an eight-hour day, and a constant drumbeat of threat of termination and fearfulness was the tenor of the warehouse.

One of my son's co-workers was a young Black man who, because he was short - just over five feet tall - had to carry a small step stool to reach the higher shelves in the warehouse. A new father, he was desperate for work to support his young family, but carrying the stool around reduced his efficiency, although he would quite literally run from shelf to shelf. After a week of warnings, he was fired.

This ongoing dehumanization of workers whose labors have created the richest human on earth will end badly. There may be no "good billionaires", as an op/ed writer opined several days ago, but the bad ones are truly horrid.

 

FROM AJ: You can tell that Amazon is a rotten place to work by the haphazard way purchases are shipped. Fragile items are placed in boxes with scant cushioning and arrive broken. A $1 item is packaged better than a $250 item. The workers don’t care because the company doesn’t care about them. But even a corporation as large and vital as Amazon will ultimately fail if it cannot maintain a healthy work environment and pay workers what they deserve to be paid. Sears was the biggest thing in retail for well over 100 years. Now, gone. Could happen to Amazon. Should happen to Amazon. Will happen to Amazon.

 

FROM FR: Shipping is throw the item in the box along with some bubble wrap and send it out. The several things I received from Amazon were photographed before and during opening as I was worried about damaged goods inside.

All was fine but my impression of Amazon, despite all the robots and technology is that of a 3 ring circus.

 

FROM WB: For a boots-on-the-ground perspective, read Emily Guendelsberger's book "On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane."  Amazon "fulfillment centers" (warehouses) have vending machines scattered throughout.  Swipe your badge and you can get as much generic Tylenol and Advil as you want for free.  Guendelsberger ended up having to "pop them like candy" to quell the pain of the physical labor.  Even worse perhaps was simply being treated like a robot.  Every single thing to do is instructed by an LCD screen on a scan gun.  Once an assigned task is completed a clock starts counting down the seconds remaining to complete the next one.  The warehouse and tasking is designed to minimize distraction (no windows, no music and neither time nor colocation to interact with other workers).  In warmer summer locations, ambulances wait outside to take away people who pass out from the heat.

 

FROM JN: High schools students (maybe even Junior High School) should work here for one summer and the earlier in life  the better.

This way they can see what jobs are available to low skilled and poorly educated people now and likely in the future.

These jobs are mind numbing at best are not really the foundation for a career.

Bezos is very smart and knows that he can have an endless supply of low skilled people to support his business model and work peoples are until they quit which is probably no more than a year. I have seen some of the robots and automation in their warehouses and they are very efficient. What they will be like in 5-10 years will probably obviate the need for many of these people.

 

FROM PE: Automation may arrive even sooner. Some employers would rather not hire people at all than be subject to articles like this one. I wonder what all the people who don't qualify for better work are going to do then.

The business is what it is, and so is the work. In a system so vast, screwups and unintended injustices are inevitable.

I can't wait for the day when all work will be nice and cushy, even for people who don't have any particular knowledge and skill. That day is just around the corner. Right?

 

FROM MR: Amazon’s business is clearly aimed to take advantage of the next generation of mobile and non-mobile robots, who will never complain about their work requirements, or need for occasional absence.  My guess is 80-90% of current Amazon employees are doomed if they lack the skills to supervise the robots who will replace them.

 

FROM BL: Nobody expects low skill jobs to be cushy.  But if you had read the article and some of the comments here you would know the standards are barely attainable on the best days.   Injuries and even deaths are relatively common due to the quotas and also skimping on training and safety standards. 

I've had professional actuarial jobs, and lower skill jobs as a phone rep and a data transcriber.  All those lower skill jobs had virtually unattainable standards, and one phone rep job had many ridiculous rules, as well as many ways to get a failing grade on a call.

 

FROM FM: I find this outlook and assumptions about workers to be easily separated by political parties.

Republicans believe people are lazy, dishonest, cheats.

Democrats believe people generally are NOT.

This colors all discussions and actions, and is the reason the American worker has seen minimum wage go down in adjusted dollars (used to be 22/hour in the 60s).

 

SS: Big Brother Bezos and Amazon are the model of laziness, they produce nothing and are merely a private mailing/ delivery service. Their profits are built on the backs of actual producers of goods. I don't know what Kelly Nantel's background is or education but a first year econ student could tell her that a150% employee turnover rate comes with a very high financial as well as emotional cost. Contrary to emperor Bezos' contention, most people are reasonably ambitious and want to take pride in their work and hold on to the possibility of advancement in a large organization. Just speak to any Costco employee and you will get a different perspective.

 

FROM BL: Amazon is well known to be a demanding employer, but also a consistent one. You can either pack x packages per minute or your can't.  Keep your job or don't.  One has to ask just how long Amazon will need people in warehouses at all.  Hopefully not long and all these warehouse employees can go onto better, higher paying jobs.

 

FROM PR: Who is going to give those warehouse employees "better, higher paying jobs"? Why aren't they giving them those jobs now? If those jobs don't exist, who is going to create them? Why should they?

 

FROM EJ: What will Amazon do after it has fired an entire city's worth of workers?  Hopefully it will go away.

 

FROM BF: Man, oh man, this article depicts 'fordism' on steroids. It's a real pity that the people who work there really need these jobs because they have not alternatives. And it's a scandal that the American public puts up with this abuse of workers for cheaper products, quick service, and high stock price. It all looks so 'victorian'...like the 'dark, satanic mills' of yore.

  I am soooooo glad that I don't need to work any more. Work stinks.

 

FROM FR: We have had "sweat shops" since the beginning of time. The slaves on the Roman galleys, the slaves who built the pyramids or picked cotton on the plantations. The garment industry, shoes, auto manufacturing and textile mills are just a few examples. Those surviving...automated as new developments came forth.

Amazon will be fully automated within the next 5 - 10 years.

The young need to understand that not taking advantage of education will lead to their becoming wards of "the state" or ending up in the military which has its own set of risks.

 

FROM MF: YOU are right on the money! If these people had taken advantage of any education offered to them their situation MIGHT be different. The scandal does not start at Amazon though, it started long ago, with a company in Arkansas known as WALMART..buying cheap goods and working its workers at $7.25 an hour with insufficient hours to claim health care..why doesn't the TIMES beat up on them...We all pay for their health care though a program called Medicaid...GEEZ

 

FROM GE: Yikes, reading The NY Times article reminds me of the 19th century sweatshops and workhouses set in a Charles Dickens novel.

Only this is the 21st century and the year is 2021!

Deplorable managers.  Deplorable technology.  Disposable workers who are used, abused and thrown out. 

This is very upsetting.

I will now have to think very hard about ordering anything from Amazon again.

 

FROM HH: Jeff Bezos is unquestionably a genius. He's also the world's richest man who gutted Main Street like a fish, forces many manufacturers to supply him at a loss, doesn't pay taxes despite making his fortune on the back of America's infrastructure, and had *full-time* employees who qualified for food stamps. In my book, that's not a hero—that's a villain.

 

FROM MS:  "Mr. Bezos believed that people were inherently lazy. “What he would say is that our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need,”"

Wow!  I really didn't think that Bezos was this stupid about people's motivations.  Firstly, he is underestimating the cost  of constantly training new hires in terms of production.  He doesn't appear to even care to consider this fact.  Why?  With his viewpoint fixed in looking at people from a negative view, he is more motivated toward the "stick" than the "carrot" view of mankind. 

Evidently, Bezos hasn't taken into account that the viewpoint of  "expect the worst from people and you will get it" is a self fulfilling philosophy.  Bezos is sitting on a powder keg and doesn't realize it.  You'd think he doesn't read the news that are showing more work place violence, especially when workers have been fired. 

 

(Astonishing, however, how little violence there has been – dji.  But is that a good thing, because law and order are an essential component of civilization, or a bad thing, because it means that even the most passionate (or psychotic) employees will accept abuse and/or termination like docile herd animals waiting in line in the slaughterhouse.  This may evoke re-contemplation of the Capitol riots… especially as, with the moratorium dead, evictions spike.)

 

I would encourage Bezos to read up on articles in the social sciences that study what really motivates people and I think he'd see that "carrots" work better than "sticks."  Otherwise, why would so many businesses try to find ways to reward people for jobs well done?  Praise and rewards assure cooperation and enthusiasm.  Ask any parent of a two year old and they will tell you which philosophy works better in a household.

 

FROM KP:

Atlanta came close to unionizing. If one goes and changes follow, then all the others will go. The fact is that the system that Amazon uses is blatant age discrimination. Older people can't do the job. The pace is too great. Once he burns through the ever decreasing pool of 30 and unders he is going to have a problem finding workers.

 

(Which again, as above, begs the question: did the workers reject the unions because of pernicious and lingering odor of mob corruption, because of personal and class intimidation such as ramping up even the most abusive practices… overwhelming the union legal teams and dragging out the pursuit of justice for, perhaps, years… or did they appeal to the macho “tough Americans (even the women) don’t need no vaccines to stay healthy and no unions to tinker with their working conditions”?)

 

FROM WS:

I can't imagine anyone who is lazy lasting a day working for Amazon. Why doesn't he just give them a break? He can afford to. I'm sure he doesn't work as hard as his employees. So...fire him.  I think it would be more cost effective for the taxpayers to dispose of all the billionaires. They have become too much of a burden.

 

FROM RM:

Trying to figure out how many wrong turns my life would have to take for me to become the kind of person who would waste energy to log on to the internet and stick up for a company as horrid as Amazon.

 

FROM DH:

Like many Americans, I shop Amazon regularly. Not too much is new in the NYT piece, as Amazon is already known for being a difficult place to work.

Of course you won't read about that in the Washington Post.

I wonder why?

 

FROM TT:

Wow.  Jeff Bezos is literally the embodiment of the worst mindset of capitalism.  What a shocking and unexpected discovery.

People aren't lazy for not wanting to throw themselves into ruthlessly exploitive menial labor for hours on end... day after day... in perpetuity.   Especially not for wages that sit roughly at the cost of living.  And naturally the psychopath's solution is burn them out in less than a year and then cut them loose, knowing you didn't pay them enough to really save or anything so they are once again desperate enough to accept a mediocre job that will quickly burn them out, fire them, and the cycle continues.  Capitalist dream state right there.  Work, work, work until you drop dead on the job floor, because working to increase your boss's value in the only part of life that matters.

I feel so bad thinking back on the people who (rightfully) thought that the massive efficiency increases of technology would mean people could work less and live more, since an hour could produce what used to be a day's worth of "work".  Instead it appears that the bosses just decided that if everything could be done in less time, then workers should just be given more to do.  Ever wonder where all the increased value of your work is going instead?  (Hint: it's people like Bezos)

 

FROM MF:

TT ONCE again you are falling into the worker fallacy that companies are going to TAKE CARE of you. Actually people with the education to work IN TECHNOLOGY do live more like you say, BUT if the only job you can get is basically a warehouse job, these are considered as a living wage...https://livingwage.mit.edu/

The real tragedy will come when because of companies' need to satisfy their investors and holders actually use technology and AI to do these jobs without that many people. And people elected from your state do not want additional regulation or labor protection laws or higher wages. Maybe if they were not benefiting from their investment in companies like this it might be different but it will take states putting forth people who do care about our workers...and education...

 

FROM AC:

Fellow citizens of Oceana:  the Amazon model is our future.

 

FROM MG:

This “inherently lazy” view of humanity goes directly back to the well-publicized views of the Confederate leaders and their belief that if they weren’t forced to work slaves would not work. Upon emancipation, even under Reconstruction, municipalities legislated idleness laws and systematized low-wage dead-end employment with sufficient churn to create a pliable workforce dependent upon the charity of their former masters. Bezos is just following the white patriarchy’s playbook that embedded the theories of slavers in order to justify the exploitation of workers on an ever increasing scale.

 

(Only partially true – DJI.  All but the most psycho slavers understood that their Negroes were an asset… as in capitalism’s assets and liabilities… worth cash money when alive and working, so it made good business sense to keep them, at least, alive.  With reconstruction and down to the present, slaves (or hired workers) have no capital value therefore, as Mr. Bezos presumes, they can be interned… at the minimum “training wage”, churned, burned and, if not meeting the machine’s productivity standards, turned out or fall ill or injured trying to satisfy their masters – thereafter dying  and being “urned” at their family’s expense.)

 

FROM FF:

(Bezos) is having people work at a warehouse job that our Dept of labor says is equitable for that job level and he like all business here is working to support the interests of the holders and investors FIRST. These are NOT slave wages which were nothing; and these people are as free to leave these jobs as anyone else. https://livingwage.mit.edu/ this wage calculator states that Amazon is paying above the living wage.

 

FROM MG:

The fact that Bezos and Co. are concerned that they will run out of eager workers and essentially replace their entire workforce every eight months in order to incentivize them is always justified by claims of offering a “living wage”.

Churn, treating workers like criminals that are waiting to slack off and random unexplained firings belie such claims of sufficiently good wages and benefits.  This is a white patriarch using and abusing an exploited workforce until there’s none left that will fall for the “good benefits” carrot only to lose them to the surveillance efficiency firings stick. Good for the holders and bad for workers. Only when they face labor shortages do they grudgingly raised worker conditions. Same old white captain of industry story.

 

FROM SW:

but he is definitely breaking OSHA laws that protect workers' health and safety.

 

FROM NA:

Gawsh! You mean Amazon doesn't care? I am really really really really really really really really shocked.

 

FROM CP:

The only way the system changes is when the USA stops taxing only employment income and starts taxing investment wealth in a significant way. Reagan's tax changes eventually led to this.

 

FROM LF:

My company is one of the millions of sellers on Amazon.com. We have to sell there because Amazon IS ecommerce on the planet earth. Search the internet for any product and even if Amazon doesn't sell it, they're going to have the top 5-10 ad placements. There is zero hope for success of an online retailer who tries to go their own way without Amazon.com For the privilege of selling on their platform, the fee we pay often results in their making more money on the sale of our products than we do. But wait... there's more. Every single interaction we have with Amazon is measured. Miss a metric and we could be terminated from the platform, putting us out of business.  Try to reach a person to discuss a problem and we get sucked into the same automated non-human system that Amazon employees do. Is this the world we all want to live in? Is it that great that we can get a $10 cellphone case tomorrow?

 

FROM MG:

As a consumer, I have a beef.  They offer a place to comment about their goods and services, rate it etc.

After being a good customer on Amazon for over a year, suddenly, I was no longer able to leave any comments.  They stated a generic reason in a response, I talked with some person on the phone and they pretty much said 'good luck' in 'sotto voce.' 

There was no way this should have happened.  I had only two complaints, both of those were taken care of by the seller...without a problem...but suddenly 'i am a pariah?'...did not like that....with no recourse.

 

FROM SS:

Your story is like the one in the article about people being fired because of a glitch in a computer program. 

When a company is as big as Amazon, you're not a person to them, no matter what consultant-approved market-grouped rhetoric they might spout about the "customer experience being the priority."

You're not a human being to them.  You're a collection of preferences, a history of purchases, minus whatever you might cost them in terms of time or money. And this is the model our best and brightest seem keen to replicate across not just our commercial system, but our social systems and communities as well.

 

FROM FJ:

I search for an item, look at the Amazon ads and then search for the product manufacturer's website so I can order directly.

There is also Etsy.

 

FROM JB: I make it a point not to order anything from Amazon unless I cannot find the product elsewhere and not before asking myself whether I really, really need it.  I went on a shopping diet during the lockdown because I realized I needed less "stuff" and most of it was meaningless.  Instead I went into my closet and inventoried what I already had and started wearing things I had not worn in years.  Everything else was totally unnecessary.  Begin by asking yourself if that item really adds to your quality of life and the consequences of the purchase.  Cheap labor to make it and impact to the environment.  We live in a disposable, consumer oriented country.  Unfortunately, even our workers are disposable.  I for one prefer not to buy crap from Amazon.

 

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (C) – From Slate

 

SLATE’S PEANUT GALLERY

 

FROM SR:

Nothing says "I'm a dick" like doing a quick dip into a space in a dick-shaped rocket.

 

FROM BC:

I really don't get what the big deal is. They were in space for 10 miserable minutes and it was just above orbit.

There have been dozens (if not hundreds) of missions to space, we had moon landings (over 50 freaking years ago!), space stations where astronauts lived for months... 

What did Bezos accomplished again??

 

 

FROM DP:

The beginnings of the commercialization of space. That fact that he went just because he wanted to go is a milestone. Now  is the begining of the age of space tourism. Also his rocket is shaped very rudely.

          AND…

I wanted him to spray cheez whiz out of a can, to see what would happen to it  in a weightless environment. 

You know, for science.

 

FROM GA:

NYT:

Jeff Bezos, the richest human in the world, went to space on Tuesday.

I assume they have to clarify with "human" because of Scrooge McDuck. 

 

FROM FA:

I’m happy for Jeffy. I really really am.

 

 

FROM FR:

 

I don't think it counts as going to space unless you achieve orbital velocity, regardless of how high you go.  What makes space interesting is less the absence of air and more being in freefall for an extended period of time (4 minutes isn't all that extended).

 

FROM CN:

I'm all for shooting billionaires into space but I don't understand all the wasteful spending on return vehicles, parachutes, etc.

 

 

FROM EE:

Think of this as a stepping stone. In 5 years we may be putting mere millionaires into space. 

 

FROM FB:

How long before we know what super powers he acquired from the cosmic radiation?

 

FROM TS:

Next challenge: developing a robotically driven portapotty that will show up on demand at a warehouse worker's station. But no, that's not fun and is a convenience for mere workers instead of an ego boost.

Next iteration: Supersonic robotic portapotties that have enough battery to be driven around a racetrack multiple times. 

 

FROM JM:

I think sequence for re-entry is just to fall back to Earth and deploy a parachute.

 

FROM IG:

Reusability is the main thing here. That required the creation of rocket engines you can relight (as opposed to solid rocket boosters or single ignition rockets). That was an enormous challenge that us laymen can't really understand, it required the invention of modern computers and 3D printed parts, etc. 

Shooting a rocket into space has been proven tech for close to a century. Landing one is very new.

 

FROM BJ:

I'm pretty sure some of the Gemini and Apollo hardware was capable of several restarts. And obviously the lunar lander landed by rocket onto the Moon.

The other thing we had to invent were corporations huge enough recreate the Gilded Age billionaire class.

 

FROM HC:

Those were ICBMs, that may have complicated things.

Anyway, they weren't reusable.  Reusability is going to make this more affordable.  If he's planning on charging 250K per passenger, his launch cost will have to be no more than 1.5 million to break even.  I don't have figures but I'm fairly sure those early launches cost more than that.

Just googling: The Titan II that launched Gemini cost 25 million in today's money, not counting the non-reusable capsule.

 

FROM VA:

I don't want to take anything away from the engineers who built and tested these suborbital craft. It's an amazing achievement for them. Bezos and Branson are just egomaniacs hogging the glory.

 

FROM JB:

 Why not launch another space station or three?

 

FROM CJM:

 That would be cool.  But the ISS is a work in progress itself, can't launch all that weight at once.

 

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (D) – From Guardian UK

 

BEZOS BLASTED FOR TRAVELING TO SPACE WHILE AMAZON WORKERS TOIL ON PLANET EARTH

 

Space-obsessed billionaires come under fire with the Amazon founder declaring the critics ‘largely right’

By Adam Gabbatt  Tue 20 Jul 2021 05.00 EDT

 

As Jeff Bezos blasts into space on Tuesday, his voyage has some people asking whether the billionaire’s time, or at least money, might be better spent here.

Bezos, the Amazon founder who has an estimated net worth of $206bn, is taking off from Texas on Tuesday morning on the rocket New Shepard, owned by his company Blue Origin.

It will be a moment of celebration for Bezos, a noted space enthusiast who said he has “dreamed of traveling to space” since he was five-years-old. But many others are unimpressed with Bezos spending his fortune on space travel, given the long-running complaints about working conditions at Amazon, and broader concerns about income inequality and the amount of taxes the wealthiest Americans pay – or don’t pay – to the government.

In June, a ProPublica investigation revealed how the wealthiest Americans have consistently avoided paying income tax, stirring anger from struggling Americans taxed at normal rates.

Bezos isn’t the only billionaire with a lust for space travel. His fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk have been engaged in a space race for some time, with Branson arguably winning when he flew in a Virgin Galactic flight last week.

The competition has left Warren Gunnels, a staffer for Bernie Sanders, distinctly unimpressed.

Bezos addressed some of the criticism on Monday, when he was asked about the claim that he was taking a rich person’s “joyride” instead of focusing on problems on Earth.

The critics are “largely right”, Bezos said.

“We have to do both. We have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those and we also need to look to the future, we’ve always done that as a species and as a civilization. We have to do both.”

Bezos, who has stepped down as Amazon CEO, saw his net worth increase by $70bn during the pandemic, as hundreds of millions of people looked to his company for food deliveries and entertainment. Amazon has been criticized for years over the conditions for its workers, with reports of staff urinating in bottles for fear of missing delivery rates and regularly working 14-hour days.

Andy Levin, a US representative from Michigan (and nephew of recently deceased Senator Carl), pointed out the discrepancy between owner and worker in a tweet.

While others noted that as Bezos did a round of interviews to discuss his spaceflight, the media largely avoided asking him about his company’s procedures.

Bezos’ flight comes after the British billionaire Richard Branson flew to space in his own Virgin Galactic aircraft. Branson reached an altitude of 53 miles (85 km) in his vessel, lower than the 62 mile (100 km) Kármán line which Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the Switzerland-based world body, defines as space, though other organizations – such as Nasa – have it lower.

Blue Origin engaged in some social media bickering of its own after Branson’s return from the air. The company’s Twitter feed posted a side by side comparison of its own space trips with those of Virgin Galactic, pointing out that its own trips definitely will go into space, and describing Branson’s ‘space craft’ as a “high altitude airplane”.

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (E) – From the Huffington Post (article)

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN RIPS JEFF BEZOS FOR SPACE TRIP WHILE STIFFING IRS

 

“He can afford to pitch in,” Warren said.

 

 

By Mary Papenfuss

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) flamed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for his high-flying trip to space last week after skipping out on his taxes and letting struggling Americans pick up the tab for funding the nation.

The richest guy on Earth can launch himself into space while over half the country lives paycheck to paycheck, nearly 43 million are saddled with student debt, and child care costs force millions out of work. He can afford to pitch in so everyone else gets a chance.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarrenJuly 25, 2021

 

ProPublica reported last month that Bezos — who is worth some $205 billion — didn’t pay a penny in federal income tax in 2007, 2011 or 2018. He paid a true tax rate of less than 1% between 2014 and 2018, even though his wealth soared by $99 billion.

Now, Bezos will rake in even more dough by selling tickets off-planet via his Blue Origin space company. A public auction held for one of the other three seats on the first crewed flight of the New Sheperd rocket that carried Bezos into space last Tuesday sold for $28 million. He boasted last week that Blue Origin had already sold close to $100 million in tickets for future flights.

Bezos was recently scorched on social media for thanking Amazon workers and customers for funding his flight. That was a particular clunker given that Amazon crushed workers’ efforts earlier this year to unionize and receive better pay and benefits for their labor.

Critics were also happy to agree with Warren:

Jeff Bezos really was like “your stolen wages made this possible!”

Wagatwe Wanjuki 🇰🇪 🇧🇸 (@wagatweJuly 20, 2021

It’s beyond ridiculous when his employees are screaming out for unfair working conditions

— ClapBackKing2018 (@BackKing2018) July 25, 2021

Important to note that Bezos’ billions only accrued due to government services - like roads, a safe way to travel, safety standards for production facilities and and safe food to eat- and employees work. Taxes should be fair.

— Patricia Nolan (@PattyNolan1) July 25, 2021

He got rich from the underpaid sweat and labor of a lot of those people.

 

HUFFPOST’S PEANUT GALLERY

 

FROM BJ:

Mam, with all due respect, get rid of all the loopholes, and special favor laws that legally allowed Jeff and others to pay what they paid. May I also point out, that many members of congress do the same, so the lip service may be good for the press, but until something is done about the laws, it doesn't really mean very much.

 

·         FROM MS:

Senator Warren is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and chair of the Subcommittee Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is chair of the Subcommittee Taxation and IRS Oversight. If she could single handedly change the tax code to close the loopholes that allow billionaires to escape federal taxation, I'm sure she would.

 

·         FROM DL:

Bezos isn't going to pay more taxes until Republicans are willing to pay more themselves. This is what happens, Trump's tax cut was a disaster. it exploded the national deficit and put money into the wealthy's pockets and big corporations. They also took their share including Trump, all self-interest. Republicans refuse to fund government putting it on future generation to handle the rising debt, won't even fund covid relief measurers partly with a tax program as was always done in the past with crisis expenditures like wars, all now on credit. Bezos with his lawyers is just following the law, inadequate for our modern society and unequitable as the debt falls on everyone while Bezos and others take the money and run, or go to the moon he's now planning. It is a national financial house of cards that can't be sustained. The fall off the financial cliff is never seen until it happens. The GOP is blinded with their short-term opportunistic horizon.

 

·         FROM KO:

He not stiffing the IRS he’s using the laws that were written for the wealthy benefit. It’s the rest of us that getting stiffed.

 

·         FROM SM:

It's pretty outrageous that my household paid a LOT more in taxes than the richest person on earth. It's just not right.

 

·         FROM GS:

Are you suggesting that if congress changed the tax code to allow you to hide most of your income from tax liability, you wouldn't take advantage of that? That's all Bezos does.

·          

·         FROM KE:

Mr. S, you are spot on correct.

 

·         FROM GA:

I find it odd that someone like Warren would not know that in order to qualify for the tax rules permitted by Congress, Bezos had to reinvest the money owed back into America. She appears to believe that he simply refused to pay taxes which is quite illegal. Congress, obviously made of both Republicans and Democrats, agreed to give companies tax breaks in exchange for direct investments. Bezos reinvested approximately $200 billion upon landing. I find it incredibly unfair for Congress to pass laws, then demonize corporations who abide by those laws. If as a member of congress, Warren disagrees with her own policies than perhaps she should rewrite them but then again. Of course doing so would make it harder for her to politicize this issue, a tactic she commonly uses to garner support and votes; much like she and others did when you were told that Buffet's secretary paid a higher tax rate. Sure, it got votes but it was categorically false, just as her current claims are against Bezos.

·          

·         FROM MT:

Corporate lobbyists literally write the tax code themselves. Welcome to dysfunctional American politics.

·          

·         FROM SD:

Gee whiz, Skippy. Regular people invest in our country with AFTER-Tax money.

 

·         FROM BS:

Have to agree with Liz on this one.

 

·         FROM MF:

It his money. He pay taxes based on the laws Warren helps write. Why should you be upset that he follows the law?

 

·         FROM AW:

It is time for all billionaires to put their money where their democracy is, if they want it.

 

·         FROM FD:

They pay all the taxes they owe unless you are Helmsley.

 

·         FROM SS:

I haven't heard of him breaking any laws. Apparently, he does what the law allows. He can't be faulted for that. He can spend his money as he chooses. "Chip in"? Taxes are not donations or a divided restaurant tab. There is money due the Treasury that Congress refuses to get. That is not Bezos's fault.

·          

·         FROM FC:

Tax laws were written for the working man. They were not written for investors and folks like Walton, Bezos, Etc, etc. The Tax laws definitely need to be revisited. Bezos should have to pay taxes on the 100 million he made selling future flight tickets, but no, he will reinvest that money and avoid paying anything.

 

·         FROM JR:

On the other hand, maybe they were written for the wealthy? After all, it's the wealthy who benefit most from the current laws.

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (F) – From Huffpost (comedians)

 

By Elyse Wanshel  07/20/2021 04:22 pm ET

JEFF BEZOS’ BRIEF TRIP TO SPACE LAUNCHES GALAXY WORTH OF JOKES ON TWITTER

 

“When your ex needs to go to space about it, you won the divorce,” one Twitter user said.

 

Jeff Bezosshort trip to space inspired as many jokes as there are stars in the universe.

The Amazon founder kind of, sort of blasted into space with his private rocket company, Blue Origin, on Tuesday.

He was joined by his brother Mark, aerospace pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen — but most jokes on Twitter were reserved for the billionaire.

The quips included references to Bezos’ recent divorce, reported treatment of Amazon employees and usage of tax breaks, as well as the rocket’s resemblance to a part of the male anatomy. 

 

HUFFPOST’S (COMEDY) PEANUT GALLERY

 

FROM SM:

when your ex needs to go to space about it, you won the divorce

FROM TA:

jeff bezos didn’t even go to space! he just got super high which nobody congratulates me for??

FROM SG:

In general, good journalistic practice is to be clinical and wordy.

INCORRECT: “Jeff Bezos took off in a dong-rocket.”

CORRECT: “…rocket that was much like a piece of male genitalia in appearance, and to be specific, not the testicles; we’re talking about the penis here.”

FROM KD:

At least billionaire Jeff Bezos designed his spacecraft to look like a dick to let aliens know there was one on board.

FROM BA:

Quick! Everyone in the warehouse use the bathroom!

FROM BC:

Where does Jeff Bezos get all this money to go to space? That rich son of a bitch. I’m disgusted. I hate him. Also my Amazon package is late for the fourth time this week. I’m so mad.

FROM WM:

Jeff Bezos was in space for 5 minutes—or as its known at the Amazon warehouse, your allotted break time for a 16-hour day

FROM SD:

Today’s space flight was 11 minutes longer than an Amazon employee bathroom break.

FROM SR:

Earth re-entry tax now.

FROM PL :

he really said he was gonna go all the way into space and then did just the tip……. who does that

FROM BK:

His flight lasted 10 minutes, or as Amazon employees call it, maternity leave. 

 

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (G) – From Fox News

 

JEFF BEZOS ROASTED FOR THANKING AMAZON EMPLOYEES, CUSTOMERS FOR PAYING FOR SPACEFLIGHT: 'I'D LIKE A REFUND'

'You don't have to be a rocket scientist' to support a billionaires' tax, remarked Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass

By Charles Creitz | Fox News

 

Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, thanked his employees and customers on Tuesday for subsidizing his Blue Origin spaceflight, during which he and three others spent 11 minutes inside the "New Shepard" capsule after lifting off from the desert in Van Horn County, Texas.

"[I] want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this. So seriously, for every Amazon customer out there, and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart, very much. It’s very appreciated," said a cowboy hat-sporting Bezos upon returning to Earth with his fellow passengers, younger brother Mark Bezos; aviation pioneer Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk, 82, and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen.

The New Shepard, named for Alan Shepard, the first American in space, took off on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the automated capsule reached an altitude of about 66 miles, more than 10 miles higher than Virgin founder Richard Branson’s July 11 ride. The 60-foot (18-meter) booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound to get the capsule high enough, before separating and landing upright.

Upon his return to terra firma, Bezos was roasted by critics for his comments thanking customers for the reported $5.5 billion cost of the Blue Origin endeavor.'

The New York Daily News reported that the ticket cost for one seat on Tuesday's flight was $28 million, with the Big Apple publication remarking a New Yorker could buy 5.4 million hot dogs at Nathan's Famous on Coney Island for that amount.

Stars & Stripes journalist David Choi also retweeted video of Bezos' comments, remarking "I'd like a refund."

In the U.S. Senate, progressive Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tore into the billionaire, repeating her call for a "wealth tax" and accusing Bezos and the company he founded, Amazon, of paying no taxes:

"Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing," Warren tweeted.

Warren's fellow Bay State lawmaker, Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, further criticized Bezos' remarks, saying they remind Americans that it doesn't take "a rocket scientist to know it’s time for billionaires to pay their fair share."

Across the northern border, the leader of Canada's far-left New Democratic Party echoed Warren, calculating that Bezos became $1.6 million wealthier during the 11-minute flight, and accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of allowing Amazon to pay "$0 in taxes."

"Jeff Bezos's space flight lasted 11 minutes During the pandemic, every 11 minutes, he got about 1.6 million dollars richer… It's time the ultra-rich pay their fair share," MP Jagmeet Singh of British Columbia province wrote on Twitter.

"Just ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things for Jeff Bezos," tweeted Mother Jones reporter Timothy Murphy.

Bezos is worth a reported $177 billion, which he has accrued since founding the e-commerce giant in his Bellevue, Wash., garage in 1994.

 

FOX NEWS’ PEANUT GALLERY

 

FROM CJ: My problem with raising taxes on billionaires is that is never really the proposal. Congress always wants to raise taxes on people making about $450,000 a year. That is such a far cry from a billionaire. Why can't they propose new brackets at like $750,000 and $1,000,000 etc. with increase rates. Why should two married professionals pay the same percentage as the CEO of some huge corporation, a professional athlete or a celebrity. It makes no sense and it actually makes the truly elite's wealth have more value because it makes it harder for others to accumulate wealth.

FROM DR:  I don't like Bezos, and only use Amazon for essentials I can't get direct from stores or manufacturers. But employees make any business run, and customers "VOLUNTARILY" buy what he's selling. Anyone involved in either area can stop right now. And Bezos won't care because he can't spend himself into poverty at this point. He started an online business selling books. Anyone could have done that in 1994. But they didn't, and he did.

FROM BR:  Amazon has mandatory turnover rates. Bezos has said that the longer someone is on the job, the less productive they get. Which is true…when the worker is not appreciated. Working for Amazon should be great. But it’s not. Now obviously Bezos knows how to make the most profitable business on the planet, but I don’t agree with how he’s done it. So like you, I only buy from Amazon when I can’t find something elsewhere. But I’m afraid someday Amazon will be the ONLY option.

FROM RD:  Anyone is free to start a company, build a huge fortune and pay for their own trip to space just like he did. As for his taxes, he follows the law and takes advantage of the breaks afforded in them. Congress won't change the laws because it would affect their own investments and taxes.

FROM CD:  Congress wont change the laws because Bezos won't fund their reelection efforts. When we the people are United, billionaires and politicians have limited profit. Quit glorifying them and letting them divide us and we take their power. Pretty crazy to think that socialist policies keep us divided, poor and powerless.

FROM TS:  IF Bezos or Amazon paid zero dollars in income taxes, it is because of politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren. They are the ones writing the tax laws, not Bezos. He is doing as the law allows, like it or not.

FROM BJ:  Bezos, Musk, Branson, and other billionaires are actually pushing the bounds to make travel better in the future, and engaging in new endeavors that an ultimately make space travel more feasible and routine in the future. New York to Sydney in a couple hours kind of travel. There is a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere. I don't see the government doing anything to make this happen. I also see these billionaires doing more than NASA. Sure the 'gubment could take 90% of their wealth as people like Warren are calling for, but we all know the government would do nothing of note with that money. More handouts that would do nothing to advance humankind.

FROM MM:  Overall though amazon brings in huge tax revenues. Look how many people he employs and all of those people pay taxes. I am sure personally he pays his fair (share) of taxes, which I am sure is in the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions, more money than the average American can comprehend. He can do whatever he wants with his money, he built this company and he has earned the right to spend his money how he wants.

FROM BE:  So is it "wasted" money on the backs of Amazon workers and customers? Maybe? But the reported $5.5 billion cost of the Blue Origin endeavor didn't just vanish into thin air. The money was spent on engineers, workers, etc that built the spacecraft, computers, etc., etc... That money was re-circulated into the economy. Better than sitting in a bank account and/or offshore?? Just food for thought.

FROM FR:  Bezos seems like a jerk, but why can’t people realize this simple fact. He didn’t vaporize 5.5 billion in cash. He spent it, all the way down to paying the janitors and secretaries and all the other support staff that do the jobs they are paid to do, jobs that would not exist if it was not for said jerk.

FROM EE:  Bezos doesn't write the tax laws and I'm sure he takes advantage of them wherever he can, just like all of us. If Warren or any other lawmaker doesn't like the tax laws that exist then they need to change them. I bet every lawmaker takes advantage of the tax laws. Have you ever heard one lawmaker say that he/she/it should pay more taxes?

FROM HS:  Bernie certainly didn't. When he became a millionaire (funny how he only bashes billionaires now) he got a little testy when someone asked him about his taxes and declared he paid what the tax laws required.

FROM WA:  People that complain Bezos has too much money are the same ones complaining that items in their local stores cost too much. Right now I need to buy a fuel filter for my truck, I can go to the locale Auto Zone or Napa and buy it for $35.00, or I can buy it off of Amazon for $21.00. With A.Z. or Napa, I have to drive my truck over there and wait in line and pick it up. With Amazon I can order it on-line and it shows up at my doorstep in 2-3 days. The filter gets made in the same factory no matter where I get it from, the only difference is do I pay the wages of some local dude that stocked it on the shelf, and then rang up my order at the checkout, or do I pay someone working in a warehouse a thousand miles a way to pull it and put it in a box to ship it to me, and then pay the locale driver to deliver it to me. Either way I get what I want - YOU as a consumer have to make the final call on how you make the purchase.

FROM DC:  For me, I’m in the upper income bracket. I support local business. The cost is irrelevant to me. The ONLY time I don’t is when availability is an issue and I have no choice of alternative. Fortunately, those occurrences are extremely rare.

FROM SJ:  Amazon employ 1.3M people directly, where the minimum wage is set to $15 an hour. Blue Origin has about 3500 people directly employed, where it's reasonable to assume the average salary is quite high. Indirectly, Amazon is probably giving jobs to additional millions of people (those who sell through their solutions, e.g., Amazon website, AWS, etc.). Personally, I am not a big fan of the power Amazon has; mainly because they have a tendency to dominate and make everyone else go bankrupt (few can compete, and those who do are getting crushed by the influence Amazon has). Their influence and reach is so wide and big that it's questionable if they can even be called a "company" these days, they're looking more like empires or small nations that are getting a monopoly at certain areas.

FROM MR:  Hey as much as I dislike and may not agree with his ideas and morals, he said the truth. Those were actually few of his most honest and credible words! If all of those who buy or support (while to a minimal extent whenever possible, I too have contributed) his drive to amass and monopolized wealth to the point he has with no regards, we are responsible. It is on us he has built himself. We have made him and given him, willfully, his wealth and power. Don’t blame the guy, we are to blame. He is just enjoying our work and labor. If you/we don’t like it, stop supporting him, that simple.

FROM NW:  I find the prices on ebay to be cheaper 85% of the time for things I buy online. Once in a while Amazon will come in a bit lower but not to often. I do take some time to shop for the best price. What is good on Amazon is product description and all the customer reviews. Returns are much easier and better on Amazon than on EBay because you are dealing with Amazons policy. On EBay you are dealing with the different vendors and if there is still a problem, then you have to file a complaint to EBay resolution center. This all takes a lot of time. I have always got my returns resolved to my satisfaction with EBay but it takes time. So sometimes it is better to pay a little more to Amazon if there might be a return possibility.

FROM VT:  Jeff Bezos pioneered a business model which has brought great convenience to everyone. He employs millions of skilled and unskilled people and he pays well above the federal minimum wage. Like all of us, he doesn't pay any more in taxes than he has to. We are fortunate Bezos put in the years of hard work to bring Amazon to life, and instead of complaining and being envious of his wealth, we should all be thankful for him. If you take Elizabeth Warren's attitude toward Bezos, it becomes perfectly clear why you don't see great new products and businesses sprouting forth from big government socialist countries.

FROM FB:  Amazon workers are some of the highest paid workers in their industry and have benefits that are matched only by a few. If they don't like participating in the success of their founder, maybe they can find employment with a company that is more generous.

FROM SG:  The can go to China and work there. Apple is probably hiring.

·         FROM NM:  As an Amazon customer, I helped too. I did not order from Amazon because I wanted him to be rich, I did it because they offered the best deal. Welcome to reality.

FROM FB:  Amazon is an amazing company that has made my life much easier. I can find items there that almost impossible to find locally or would take days of searching. Thanks Jeff for creating this great American company.

FROM RL:  I am not a Jeff Bezos fan, however I am a fan of business. As a business owner and having taken all the risk to make sure my employees have a job each day and into the future, I am entitled to make as much money as I wish. It’s what I choose to do with that money that will give me peace of mind. My first responsibility is to my family because they sacrificed as much as I did, the second is to my employees, spending wisely, reinvesting in them making sure they have all the tools they need to grow with the company and continue to make the company grow. Supply them with well structured benefits that fit the majority of our workers so they want to make this job a career. Last invest in my church and my community. What I don’t need is some politicians telling me that because I make a certain amount of money I need to give it to them so they can pocket 3/4’s of it and invest the rest in another failed entitlement program. So AOC and her Squid friends need to spend some actual time in a business to see what they have to do each day just to stay in business!

FROM JR:  The American whiner is the most pathetic in the world

FROM DD:  Amazon may have paid less in tax than many think they should pay, but we also have about 40% of our citizens who pay no tax. How are they any different in this regard. Perhaps if everyone had to pay at least some minimum tax, they might pay more attention to what our government spends.

FROM PO:  I favor a gross receipts tax like a national sales tax. No deductions. The most efficient WINS.

FROM TS:  If you don't like it, then quit working for his company and go work elsewhere. If you don't want to use Amazon when buying on line, go elsewhere. I hate to quote a cliche, but it isn't rocket science. It's his money, he can do what he wants with it. If you don't want him to earn anymore, stop using his company.

FROM TC:  Henry Ford, and other Capitalists, would thank good employees by giving them promotions and more money.

FROM WW:  All of his employees should be thanking him for giving them a place to work. He started this company out of his garage. He built it himself. He isnt where he is because those people propped him up. He did it himself and we as customers were offered a service that the population craved. The company had to grow or be replaced by another that would. Why demonize him for having a company that could employee so many people? There are plenty of other reasons to criticize Bezos that are way better than because he was successful. This is just jealousy.

FROM DW:  Don’t blame the accountants, if the tax laws allow it, blame your elected officials. How many of us here would give up an allowed deduction and purposely pay more taxes? Get real. I’m sure Warren, AOC, Bernie, Biden, Pelosi, et al take their fair of deductions too.

FROM Anonymous:  DEAR JEFF BEZOS: Stop supporting that anti-Gentile, anti-Christ, anti-American Washington Post newspaper. SELL IT NOW. (To whom? Donald Trump? Mike Pence? Kim & Kanye? – DJI)

FROM WS: If he could just leave off the political side....but we know THAT isn't going to happen. He can spend all his cash anyway he wants. Preach to me, however...and I'm out.

FROM DW: The money Warren and her cronies waste with out of control spending, money that’s confiscated through tax collections, makes the money Bezos earned and spends seem like a drop in the bucket.

FROM WS:  While I really don’t like Bezos’ political stance, this is an example of true capitalism and a prime example of wealthy entrepreneurs putting money back into the economy to employ people and build things. I like to see Elon Musk, sir Richard Branson, and Bezos control their investments rather than the Idiocracy.

FROM MM: The poor simpletons here don’t realize how much they benefit from the fancies of the rich. Someone gets paid to produce their sports cars, yachts, huge homes and their Expensive culinary tastes. Being ungrateful is one thing. Being extremely stupid is another. The combination of both is scary.

FROM HX:  And just what is "their fair "? You'll never get an answer to that question from politicians. I think think they already ARE paying their fair . Millionaires pay about 30% of all taxes collected now. Personally, I think non paying citizens (the so called "poor") , that's 45% of the population should be paying SOMETHING, even if it's only $25. Let everyone "feel the pain" a little. After all, the poor, like everyone else, enjoys the rights, freedom and protections, just like the rest of us.

FROM ON: The lottery is the tax on the poor.

FROM NR: This is the beginning of something bigger. Don't be so small.

FROM GP: Musk is pure genius!!

FROM PB: So whats the problem with his tweet? Most of the people that work for Amazon probably wouldnt have a job if he didnt start the company and like him or not amazon made peoples life alot easier to obtain goods and services, and not to mention many business’ thrive from amazon as do the employees of those business.

FROM BH: They’d probably be working at one of the companies Amazon put out of business

FROM HM: If you did not know. Amazon is not known for how well they treat their employees -despite the commercials as of late. I’ve had two close family members who worked there at one point.

FROM KS: He's a total crook but did it legally. You make no sense. It sounds like you are angry cuz he is smarter than you. Are you saying he should voluntarily pay more taxes and voluntarily not earn as much profit? That is not only stupid, it is ludicrous.

FROM VK: No, you are a wimp.

FROM AP: Ted Cruz and Ben Carson had a one tax rate across the board. you should have voted for one of them. if you earned $100 you pay $15 in taxes. if you earned $100million then you pay $15million in taxes. I call that a fair . then a across the board corporate rate as well. The consumption tax is good too. It hits everyone, including those that work off the books.

FROM FC: Bezos - smart, hardworking and focused, brought retail into the 21st century and made Amazon an American success providing tens of thousands of dollars of high-paying jobs. Amazon invests billions into high technology, R&D, education and employees that pay billions in taxes. I may hate his politics and WaPo, but if anyone deserves a trip into space it is Bezos. Congratulations to him and I hope he had the ride of his life.

 

ATTACHMENT ONE (H) – From Professor Galloway.com

 

·         Scott Galloway is a bestselling author and professor of marketing at NYU Stern.

·         The following is a recent blog post, republished with permission, that originally ran on his blog, "No Mercy / No Malice."

·         In it, Galloway shares why he thinks Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin flight wasn't the milestone it's chalked up to be.

JEFF BEZOS IS NOT MY ASTRONAUT

By Scott Galloway, July 23, 2021

Ever since the first tribe walked out of the Great Rift Valley and crossed the Sinai into Asia, humans have been explorers. We’ve crossed continents, then oceans, and in the 20th century, left Earth itself. There’s glory in our species’ expansive nature, and as the TV show says, space is the final frontier. However, Jeff Bezos is not my astronaut.

I felt more disdain than wonder watching Richard Branson’s joyride and Jeff Bezos’s soulless flight to the Kármán Line.

Everybody Gets a “For All Mankind” Trophy

There was no ground broken here. In 1903, the Wright Brothers completed the first powered flight. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space. In 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first human on the moon. Those are milestones worthy of celebration. In 2004, Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites carried the first people into space on a privately built spacecraft — a milestone of sorts.

What was accomplished on July 11 (Branson) and 20 (Bezos)? Well, one of Bezos’ passengers, Wally Funk (great name), became the oldest person ever in space. After the flight, she reminded us that when you’re 82 you have zero fucks to give. She was disappointed in both the view and the length of the flight, and she found the cabin insufficiently spacious for the “rolls and twists and so forth” she wanted to do.

Another of Bezos’ passengers became the youngest person ever in space. This sounds like something, except that he bought his way onto the flight — actually, his father, a private equity billionaire, paid for the recent high school graduate’s estimated $28 million ticket. My youngest has been acting up (if “acting up” is terrorizing all of us — he ​constantly assesses the household for weaknesses and then makes brazen attacks on his older brother and anything resembling domestic harmony). I don’t have any idea how to deal with this, so I bought him a $1,000 iPad. His mother told me I was sending the wrong message. I reminded her that the message could have been 28,000 times worse. So, there’s that.

Blue Origin’s reusable rocket is a real technological achievement, but that was news … back in 2015. None of the July “astronauts” were even the first space tourists. That empty-calories honor belongs to Dennis Tito, who paid $20 million for a ride on a Russian rocket in 2001. And Tito spent a week in space, living on the International Space Station — the equivalent of nearly a thousand 11-minute trips on Blue Origin.

Astronauts, my ass. Apollo 11 and Columbus travelled 240,000 and 3,000 miles to reach the moon and Caribbean, respectively. New Shepard 4 traveled 0.026% of the way to the moon.  Put another way, on Tuesday we watched a man plant a flag three feet up from base camp at Mt. Everest and expect to be knighted. This weekend, I’ll be in Montauk. I plan to swim a half-mile from shore (I can do this) and declare I’ve discovered Spain.

It’s his money, and he has the right to spend it on what he wants. But if Mr. Bezos was genuine about doing something more than crashing a canary yellow T-top Corvette into a Bosley for Men franchise, he could raise the minimum wage at his firm to $20/hour.

Egonauts

In addition to vanity projects for billionaires, these pseudo-events were advertisements, promotions for the brands prominently displayed throughout the breathless television coverage.

ut advertisements for what? Human exploration is about the future, and space exploration is a long bet on a very distant tomorrow. What kind of future will the billionaire space race promote? One clue: After his flight, Bezos said, “I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this.”

He’s right. We did pay for it. Eighty-two percent of American households are Prime members, and the company has 1,298,000 employees. We also paid for the Apollo program, of course, only there’s a difference. To put Neil Armstrong on the moon, we paid taxes, and elected representatives to decide how to spend them.

In the 52 years between Armstrong’s July accomplishment and the Branson/Bezos “accomplishments,” the United States has radically restructured its economy. Specifically, we’ve handed it over to billionaires. Now, rather than paying taxes, we pay for our Prime memberships. Instead of NASA, we fund Blue Origin. We’ve elected people who defund NASA so businessmen can lead us to new frontiers instead of test pilots and physics PhDs.

Historically, astronauts were the best and the brightest. The pioneers of the 1960s were war heroes and accomplished pilots who combined physical skill and courage with crisp engineering minds. Neil Armstrong, a legend among test pilots, flew more than 900 different types of planes before leaving the Earth in July 1969. When the Lunar Module’s computer conked out on final approach, he manually piloted the craft to the moon’s surface. Those that followed, in the Space Shuttle and aboard the International Space Station, were scientists and engineers of distinction.

“Astronaut” used to connote something noble, something that cemented the best of what it meant to be American: Men and women of exceptional capabilities and unremarkable origins. Armstrong was the second person in his family to attend college, and his father was a state government bureaucrat. John Glenn’s parents were a plumber and a teacher. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was a PhD physicist; her father was a community college professor, and her mother volunteered as a prison counselor. Former NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson, a PhD biochemist who spent more time in space than any other American (665 days), grew up on a farm in Iowa. (Kudos to the FAA, which, just before Bezos took off, issued a new policy requiring that a space crew member actually contribute to the mission before receiving astronaut “wings.”) no respect for wally funk? - dji

In the Prime Space future, we won’t have astronauts, we’ll have egonauts.

 

The problems of the Prime Space future go deeper than who gets to ride Jeff’s cocket to the Kármán Line. An ever-expanding array of technological innovations, businesses, and services fall under the rubric of “space.”

One of the earliest and still most important benefits of space exploration was the Global Positioning System. It’s hard to overstate the importance of GPS, which is foundational to our mobile economy. GPS was born of a U.S. Department of Defense project in 1973; it continues to be run by the DoD, which makes it freely available to all users.

Bezos and Elon Musk are launching thousands of satellites over the next several years to enable their Kuiper and Starlink systems. There’s a lot to celebrate about these projects, which promise broadband internet for remote and underserved regions. But do we want Bezos and Musk — or shareholders in their companies — to control that access? With the number of satellites projected to grow from 3,000 to 50,000, space hauling will be an enormous business.

Bezos dreams of moving pollutive manufacturing to space, which seems both insane and amazing. Musk wants to build a colony on Mars, which seems more like space execution than exploration. But as humanity expands to become a space-faring species, who should control who gets to go and what we do up there? To whom do the benefits of all this technological innovation flow?

I know two things about Blue Origin. One, Amazon’s customers and employees paid for it, just like Bezos said. Two, the commonwealth may register progress, but there will be less public spillover from the technology and an increase in private capture. Imagine the tax avoidance that will occur in space, where nobody can hear the IRS scream.

The counterweight to market externalities is democracy. And a democracy that cedes ownership of its future to a winner-take-all market will lose control of that future. Democracy acts through governments (and taxes), whether we like it or not.

The Right Stuff

While Bezos was high-fiving his employees after his jaunt into space, NASA scientists were working on projects for all mankind. The Perseverance rover on Mars has its own drone, which is sending back amazing pictures. In November, NASA, along with the European and Canadian space agencies, will launch the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble; under development since 1996, it promises to advance human knowledge about the formation of the universe and the origins of life.

It’s unlikely these projects will attract any venture capital money or support a SPAC. Private space projects might be dressed up as achievements for humanity, but their aim is to return capital to shareholders. And when that’s the criteria, the astronauts and their efforts become limited in scope.

Mach-3 Train Wreck or Galactic ATM

Whatever you think of space travel as a human endeavor, space tourism is an awful business. Even assuming all goes well, it makes no sense. These are vanity projects, and the only people that will make money from them will be the early investors … who bail out before impact.

Most businesses are either demand constrained (the market for its product is limited) or supply constrained (it can’t make enough of its product). Virgin manages to be both. To meet its profit targets, it has to sell about 3,100 tickets per year at a whopping $400,000 each, a 60% increase from the current price. After an ad the entire world saw, the product has a waiting list of … 600 people. My Brand Strategy class at Section4 has 1,500 people, and there’s dramatically lower odds you’re going to blow up in your chair.

But even if there were an annual demand from 3,100 people willing to pay that fee, to supply the spaceflights, Virgin would have to make two flights per day, every day, without mishap. So far in all of 2021, it has flown … twice. The true addressable market for space tourism is zero. It’s the mother of all product-market mismatches. By comparison, Google Glass and Cheetos-Flavored Lip Balm (an actual thing) were on point. Virgin Galactic may achieve great things, but the stock (Nasdaq: SPCE) is a Mach 3 train wreck.

The worst-case, and most likely, scenario? Death. Rockets to space are controlled explosions of thousands of gallons of flammable material. Re-entry is a high-speed fall into the searing heat of friction. Virgin Galactic has already lost one pilot, Michael Alsbury, who died when his SpaceShipTwo craft broke apart in the atmosphere. Five hundred and ninety people have headed into space, and 19 have not returned, meaning space travel is more dangerous than base jumping. A space tourism fatality is a question of when, not if. Exploration and innovation are worth risks, even to human life. Floating weightless for 300 seconds is not.

Richard Branson understands these risks. Last May he sold $500 million of his Virgin Galactic stock, and this April he sold another $150 million, trimming his holding to less than 25% of the company. He was able to make both sales because he took the company public in 2019 via a SPAC controlled by former Facebook employee Chamath Palihapitiya. Who also shed his entire personal stake in the company back in March. Billionaires vote with their wallets, and the two largest shareholders believe their capital will achieve greater returns elsewhere.

Sally Ride

One of 35 people selected from 8,000 applications, after receiving a PhD in Physics, Ms. Ride spent 843 hours in space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, where she was charged with operating the robotics arm (“Canadarm”). I wonder if, when peering down at Earth 300 miles below, she registered satisfaction from her hard work, or the reward of pursuing greatness in the agency of others. Was it freeing to be in space, on a craft judged only by her skills and character? I don’t know. What I am certain of is that Mission Specialist Sally Kristen Ride is a United States Astronaut and went to space for all mankind.

Life is so rich,

scott

P.S. I’ve done OK investing. Join me on July 29 for a live lecture and Q&A session on how I navigate public and private investments both as an individual and as a citizen of good old planet Earth. Sign up here.  Warning: hyperlink removed, malware alert – DJI

      PROF. GALLOWAY’S PEANUT GALLERY

FROM J:

Did anyone else think the conversation and antics in the capsule were shallow? Vapid even. Seemed like Bezos was looking for instagram moments more then peering out the window!

 

FROM HJ:

Another important space hero is Jerry (High Eagle) Elliott, who became the first NASA rocket scientist of Native American heritage, fulfilling his destiny while receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom for helping to save the Apollo 13 crew from disaster. https://vimeo.com/542932472

 

FROM M:

It’s pretty sad to see people actively complaining about space exploration. Maybe if NASA had stepped up and been the leaders they should be, it wouldn’t be falling to private industry to lead the way today.

Complain all you want, but if billionaire joyrides pave the way to more exploration and innovation then I’m all for it.
Every single. complaint. I’ve heard about this basically boils down to someone whining because others have more than they. I doubt Musk, Bezos, or Branson got where they are by whining.

PS: the author can buy their kid a $1,000 ipad for bad behavior? Pot meet kettle.

 

FROM H:

I agree with your assessment. I relate space travel to air travel. The Wright Bros. and Charles Linberg were the Trail Blazers of air travel. The rest of us are just pilots or passengers. John Glen, Neil Armstrong, etc were the space trailblazers, people like Bezos are nothing but just space passengers.

 

FROM ST:

I don’t see Space Tourism is the ultimate goal with these ventures… In my view tourism is merely an excuse to get this venture going…they are opening up access to space by innovating on cost reductions and NASA is benefiting from this first and foremost and all of us will too ultimately… government should start thinking how and what to regulate for the safety and cleanliness of space access …

 

FROM B:

I’m thinking that the government should first start thinking about how we are going to stop the trend of life expectancy decreasing for the first time in 100 years, or perhaps how we are going to have any political representation at all with such severe economic inequality.

 

FROM V:

That’s an orthogonal argument, akin to saying lets stop working on faster internet or developing self-driving cars so long there are poor people in the world.. your argument is well intentioned but the world doesn’t work this way

 

FROM G:

 “moving pollutive manufacturing to space”:

1. Rocket starts add lots of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which is polluting (even if they use H as fuel, for producing H is not straightforward).

2. A single rocket starts add the thermic equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb to our already heated atmosphere.

So Bezos plans to stop polluting by polluting?

 

FROM B:

Yes. This is the economic acumen of the richest man in the world.

 

FROM BM:

Well said Scott, the “space flights” were of little or no value except to stroke two very large ego’s…. Egonauts for sure.

FROM F:

I think it’s to soon to be this judgmental. Perhaps things will look a lot different in 10 years just like a little book selling company turning into a giant Amazon.

 

FROM B:

If Amazon paid any taxes, perhaps I’d be less judgemental. Who funds the highways that all these goods are shipped over, anyway?

 

FROM F:

If only more people created as many jobs as Amazon who cares if they pay taxes. Think about how much that saves the government (that’s all of us) not paying them unemployment money.

 

FROM I:

Read about SLS and NASA/ Boeing… then apologize for wasting all of our time. $20Bn R&D for a $2bn launch on a non reusable rocket that’s years late. Are u a Boeing lobbyist?

 

FROM D:

Troll

 

FROM D:

You left out the carbon footprint part. Everything else is 100% accurate though. “Space” tourism is a waste in so many ways.

 

FROM A:

The Blue Origin rocket used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. I.e., very little if any carbon emissions.

 

FROM B:

Wow. Are you serious? And what do they do, just go to Oxygen Lake and the Sea of Hydrogen and take whatever they need? The gases have to be cooled to below -250C and -297C, respectively. Somehow, I doubt you are going to see the “Energy Star” logo on a rocket anytime soon. People are dying of heat exhaustion out west this summer. People are sleeping in “cooling centers” to avoid that. Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to cool oxygen and hydrogen to a liquid state?

 

FROM D:

So only PhDs and test pilots should go to space ?

Ridiculous article. Full of envy and left wing rhetoric.

 

FROM D:

No, the point isn’t that only those folks should go. It’s that “space” tourism is a gigantic ego trip and a galactic waste.

 

FROM B:

Coming from a Trumptard.

 

FROM B:

Is that not preferable to whoever can pay the most goes? PhDs aren’t just a status symbol. They have them because they need them to go there. The same with being a test pilot. It’s _merit_, as opposed to merely being able to pay. It is that they actually DO things up there. They conduct experiments on behalf of universities. It is an attempt to actually have it benefit the rest of us. I swear, what is with you people and advocating against your own interests? I doubt you even know what “left” and “right” mean or why they are called “left” and “right”. You just identify with some tribe (that doesn’t actually exist). It’s hilarious that you said “PhDs and test pilots” yet lack the insight into what they might have in common: excellence. It’s not as if YOU are going to pay the ticket price anytime soon! And besides, the issue isn’t that there is a private space industry per se. It is that we no longer have any public space program. One could argue that there is no point in going to space until we have solved the huge problems here, but I’m not even going that far. What I am going to say is this: you didn’t actually say anything. You just ridiculed the article, apparently on the basis that the author is envious (I might as well call you envious of the author’s rhetorical prowess) and that it is “left-wing rhetoric” (I don’t see any evidence that you know what left and right-wing even mean). Simply calling something “left-wing” or “right-wing” is not an argument against it. You just think you know what the terms mean, and you think that there are two teams, and that you are on the team that is going to space. I assure you, you are not on that team.

 

FROM C:

As the daughter of a test pilot and NASA astronaut, I totally agree with this article. So many things in our world today were researched and developed and tested by brave and courageous souls. Those that have the bucks to poke their craft into the edge of space HEB failed miserably to benefit anyone else but themselves. Egonauts indeed.

 

FROM M:

Someone had to say the exact same thing every other media outlet is saying?
How stunning and brave. Get the author a medal!

 

FROM BA:

I agree with the this article in general (some nitpicks but minor stuff). If we’re talking egonauts, please add the 2020 Presidential runs of Tom Steyer & Mike Bloomberg. Take a wild guess how much $$$ (combined) was blown of these bids. Take about egos!!! JFC!

 

FROM JL:

I’m imagining Virgin Galactic over the next few years offering a Los Angeles to New York trip. The passengers then take a week or two on vacation on the east coast then fly back on the spacecraft or conventional jet. How about LA to NYC, NYC to Orlando, Orlando to LA?

 

FROM B:

That’s a nice vision. Until we have the energy infrastructure to create all that liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, it is insane. Perhaps it would be better to figure out how to provide air travel to more people, period, without burning fossil fuels.  (Jetpacks?  Stagecoaches? – DJI)

 

FROM SP:

For the most part I agree with Galloway’s take, but also recognize the history of similar explorations and inventions and how they paved the way for what we have now without that’s being known at the time.

How much different our understanding of these space flights (sic) would be if Bezos, Branson, and Musk had not booked themselves on the first flights. Is it a public demonstration of their confidence in the safety of their teams’ work? Perhaps, but it comes across as a vanity statement. With different passengers (like Funk) it could have avoided that, at least.

 

FROM C:

i dont love jeff bezos but my girlfriend does!

 

FROM BUZZ ALDRICH:   (REALLY?)

Wow! What an ego. I think it’s bigger that the billionaires. But at least they did something with the potential to change the world. A whole long article about who were your heroes. Who f’ng cares who you think deserves your praise. My father was in NASA and it was an amazing time back then in the 60s and early 70s. They were men. By the best definition of what it means to be a man. (Italics – dji) The space shuttle astronauts were the beginning of the smarter than brave astronauts. I take satisfaction that the astronauts who landed on the moon would have been embarrassed by your leftist woke jealousy. On the bright side. I had been giving to a charity, but your article was the last straw. I am cancelling it. Investing in Virgin Galactic instead. Government is giving away too much money as it is. This country was founded in rugged individualism not socialism.

 

FROM H:

I’m not one for comment sections, but Scott, as one of my intellectual mentors, is the first to be self-critical, self-depricating, and self-aware. His favorite topic is himself, because he deserves it. Refreshing for young men, seeking their way in the world, amongst the Fratitudes that clearly permeate your take, Mr. Wannabe Buzz. You can always choose not to read!

 

FROM N:

screw you idiots that love bashing leftists. You are the TRUE parasites of the world! It is Socialism for the wealthy and the hind twat for the rest of us!

 

FROM B:

Yes. Privatizing gains while socializing losses. If you want anything else, you’re a commie (or something). McCarthy would blush with envy.  (Kevin, Clean Gene, Joe or Charlie?DJI)  Huh? (And) You are cancelling giving to a charity to protest big government?

 

FROM R:

Nothing is as phony as a guy in a nonfunctional “spacesuit” wearing a cowboy hat. Wearing a cowboy hat while not working as a cowboy is like wearing a fireman’s hat while not fighting a fire.

 

FROM K:

 “It’s unlikely these projects will attract any venture capital money “. Agreed. But, I might be wrong, the first British colony in America was a private funded for-profit project, if I quite remember.

 

FROM D:

Scott, do you read these comments? I have a grudging admiration for these two, tho I would have preferred that they and Musk also spent some money on earth to improve the lives and climate for those less fortunate. I like your outrage, its good to clear the pipes and vent. But for every problem raised, it would be good to have your thoughts on solutions too.

 

FROM B:

The problem with such extreme wealth inequality is that they become completely detached from the reality the rest of us live in, while their wealth allows them to buy political representation. No individuals should have as much power as they do. Anything resembling democracy cannot exist like this. We already have solutions, and they have been used in the past. In 2020, amazon paid federal taxes for the first time since 2016.

 

FROM Z:

I was watching the movie, Ford vs Ferrari as I read this article. I couldn’t miss the similarities in the role of the “suits” in each….and also $$$

 

FROM R:

Bezos is a douchebag no doubt. But you’re forgetting the bigger picture with your woke hate. People like Branson are paving the way for the normalization of spaceflight.

Air travel was ridiculously expensive early on. It took 50 years for it to become cheap enough for the average Joe. What the hell do you think is going to happen at this point? You think Branson is going to stop now? The next step is a bigger parabola. Wanna get from NYC to Tokyo in an hour? We have a space plan for that.

But I less you trail blaze you get nothing. People like would have mocked Magellan when he said he wanted to circumnavigate the world too.

 

FROM B:

Um, this doesn’t contribute to that in any meaningful way. What are you gonna power this spaceplane with, optimism? There isn’t any major innovation happening here. Zero. The trail has been blazed already–in the 1950s. We have different challenges now–an energy/climate crisis. How about they first figure out how they are gonna produce all of that liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen? You should look up how much it costs just to keep an MRI machine running. Where is all of this energy going to come from?

 

FROM C:

I reread the column and noted the ‘$20/hr comment. Why just $20? If you believe that some other entity should set wages, why not $50 or $200 an hour? Why limit what the ‘workers’ get? Make them all millionaires. We wanted delivery TOMORROW of our stuff on Amazon, so we paid Bezos for Prime. If he wants to go to space with our money, fine. We both got what you wanted Don’t like it? Shop WalMart.

 

FROM M:

Write about something that matters? The”people we elected”? The rigging of primaries to give us 1%r tools?

 

 

FROM BR:

It matters because the same people who celebrate this shit are the people who’ve been drinking the Kool Aid and enabling this sham of a political system.

Not to mention the media cronies who’re trying to make Bezos a hero are the same ones responsible the political crises of the past year and then some.

 

FROM L:

There are many things in your article that may be true, but “sour grapes” still seems to me to fit.

 

FROM S:

I liked reading the article as always. However, I don’t agree with the point where you elude that only the best and the brightest have to be astronauts, like in the past?! I found it very patronising. High tuition fees in American schools eliminates many brilliant students from getting accepted. So what difference does it make if somebody pays for the college education or for space travel, it’s just that space travel is for richer people only!

 

FROM O:

This is the first article of your’s I’ve ever read and whilst I could be what my son would call a “capitalist pig” I agree with everything you have written about the two egotists who have recently had their little joyride. Space tourism will not be something profitable for many years (if at all) and Richard Branson will have exited for a tidy profit like he has done in previous businesses.

Let’s save our hero worship for people who actually make the world a better and safer place rather than creating carbon emissions for their own ego. Also in relation to items being sent into space don’t forget it is not just the USA doing so, China will be sending a lot of things up and given the mess we have made of Earth I don’t see how anyone can expect we won’t do the same in space.

 

FROM PJ:

All living things venture forth, expand and grow. Humans are no different. We make mistakes on the way, & hopefully we get better (and as an optimist I will always believe we do). You look backward too much Mr Galloway. The kids on the space YouTube channels that have all sprung up recently are wild eyed and bushy tailed optimists, kids who will build our future. Don’t shackle them with your prejudices and negativities. The future won’t be built this way.

 

FROM K:

Your jealousy is sad. Very sad and you know it. Sadder still is I have taken hour classes and now I am questioning the wisdom of that. Feel free to look me up by eMail address in your Section 4 database to validate this statement. Sad little man.  Sad and jealous.

 

FROM R:

You should binge watch For All Mankind, the alt reality TV series, so you’ll have good feelings about real astronauts again. It’s better than real reality by a long shot, which as we know is getting worse all the time.

 

FROM W

Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott said in his acceptance speech (I paraphrase) that one of the advantages of growing up on a poor island (St. Lucia) is that you couldn’t afford too much mediocrity, cf. Sidney Poitier’s comments on growing up poor in the Bahamas, a rich life in many ways it seems… Is there a genuine parallel here, that in affording excessive mediocrity (I have Netflix, Disney Plus and 60+ cable channels plus streaming), we are no longer able to recognise that we are also affording superficiality in the form of righteous self-gratification? Yes, I am from the Caribbean. No, I have never watched keeping up with the Kardashians.

Excellent. I witnessed (the middle of) Branson’s adventure into space but found it felt flat. Barring his smile in the face of a boundary, it seemed too short lived to have real meaning. But your article hits at the deeper truth of a shallowness that characterises our time. So, thanks! Didn’t see Bezos.

 

FROM Z:

As an aerospace physiologist in the Air Force, I still can get over how whacky the idea of leisure space travel is. People can hardly survive in aircraft that fly between 30K-50K feet. The enormous amount of stress on the body (or the requirements to compensate for it) isn’t even feasible when we think about “colonizing Mars.” I mean, Elon Musk is the biggest troll of all trolls. But in the click-driven social media world, what is a realist to do?

 

FROM E:

Yes! I keep thinking and saying the same thing! While studying neurobiology, NASA scientists lectured at our university and we studied the effects/challenges of real space travel and research projects around it. Spoiled wealthy won’t address real space challenges, certainly won’t put their own bodies at risk as do all true astronauts.

 

FROM SJ:

Spot on, well written and I agree with everything you said. Completely vanity BS. Won’t end well. The media fawning and extended coverage was sickening. We’ll lost all perspective when we put these billionaires on a pedestal for this. They are all accomplished and should be given kudos for their business accomplishments, not for being faux astronauts or for ripping off spoiled rich people who want 8 minutes of vanity.

 

FROM P:

Damn! Usually I get a kick out of your particular brand of pissed-offness. But this post is not worthy of you. It should have run in the Times maybe. Or some other reflexively “liberal” pub that doesn’t appreciate individual accomplishment. Read what Chas and Jim wrote below, willya?

 

FROM CHAS:

Not sure I agree with your thesis. Bezos brought along people who simply paid for the trip. True, but after a few years of developing airplanes, the Wright Bros also were part of companies that took paying passengers. Do you believe that people shouldn’t fly coast to coast simply because Kit Carson had to walk? Is American Airlines an affront to Lewis and Clark? Should we expect every person scaling Everest to dress like Sir Hilary, and not bring Oxygen?
We cannot ask Sally Ride what she thinks. Best not to speak for her.