Friday, 5 October 2018

Jeff Bezos: richest man in the world

Jeff Bezos is reportedly worth one hundred and fifty billion dollars. The figure is staggering.

Mr Bezos has come under some criticism of late. This has focused on his ruthless, exploitative approach to his workers, many of whom are paid minimum wages and forced to endure bullying management. So, Mr Bezos listened to his critics and decided to announce that he intends to raise the wages of his lowest paid workers to fifteen dollars an hour. He didn't say anything about the bullying management practices, which Amazon have always defended.

Prior to announcing his decision, Mr Bezos had asked the world what they thought he should do to improve things. Pay your workers decent wages proved to be a popular response. So I guess he was listening, sort of.

However, given his obscene wealth, there are a number of other things Mr Bezos might consider. For example, according to the United Nations, it would cost a mere ten billion dollars to ensure everyone has access to clean water. When you have a hundred and fifty billion, surely ten is not too much to save millions of lives. However, I am not expecting Mr Bezos to turn up at the UN and hand over ten billion any time soon.

You see, when you look at Mr Bezos' promise of increased wages, it turns out to be far less generous and enlightened and altruistic than it looks at first sight. For what Mr Bezos giveth with one hand, he taketh away with the other. All those workers expecting pay rises, will also find that their rights to other benefits have been stripped away. Moreover, Mr Bezos is facing a job market that is tilting in the interests of employees and other employers have already been forced by these changes in the labour market to increase the wages they pay. And Mr Bezos has to compete with those employers.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. No one gets to be a billionaire by being kind and compassionate, by being just and fair. They get to be billionaires by being sociopathic, self-interested, exploitative monsters. That's how capitalism works: the rich use their economic (and political) power to steal (legally, for the most part) from everyone else, especially the poor.

No comments:

Post a comment