Irish Examiner view: Bezos's  space trip at expense of his staff

Questions about the ethical nature of the Amazon chief's flight are justified
Irish Examiner view: Bezos's  space trip at expense of his staff

The side of a building in Van Horn, Texas, is adorned with a mural of Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos days before his launch into space from the Blue Origin spaceport about 25 miles outside of the West Texas town. AP Photo/Sean Murphy

Whatever about the ethics of travelling into space as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the world below, what was most galling about billionaire Jeff Bezos’s vanity flight was what he said afterwards. He thanked every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because, as he put it, “you guys paid for all of this”.

Criticism of space travel is nothing new, but it is absolutely justified when the bill has been picked up — or forcibly paid for, more accurately — by Amazon workers worldwide. Those same workers have described 10-hour days and working conditions that place them under immense pressure. At the peak of the pandemic, they described a lack of social distancing and protective personal equipment at warehouses.

On the other side of the transaction, customers click their way to convenience shopping, understandably perhaps, but in the process doing untold damage to small traders.

Bezos’s space journey has been described as historic, but it is not: It is simply another example of the rich guy getting ahead at the expense of the little people.

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