Jeff Bezos touched down after his 10 minutes, 10 second vertical 66 mile zoom above Earth. He felt so on top of the Earth that he agreed to one-on-one interviews with a gaggle of salivating reporters. Looking over a list of their names, he spotted journalist Greg Galaxy and picked him first.
Galaxy: “Thank you, Mr. Bezos, for calling on me first. There are still zillions of people who don’t know who you are. May I describe you as the $200 billion man or $200 B-Man, for short?”
Bezos: “Sure, but you better hurry; it may be more than that by noon, ha, ha, ha!”
Galaxy: “You sure have that distinctive laugh. Anyhow, do you think this Blue Origin zip up and back represents your dreams or is this just another high-profile business venture?”
Bezos: “Let’s begin with the dreams, which I had since I was a little five-year old boy. Starting with space tourism we can move toward getting people and heavy industry into space to avert an energy crisis on Earth. We have to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build a future.”
Galaxy: “Surely you’re kidding me, $200 B-Man.” “Don’t you realize the cosmic complexities and the length of time involved in fulfilling your dreams?”
Bezos: “That’s what they told me when I proposed to build the world’s biggest business by getting consumers to abandon Main Street, pay me $100 bucks a year to get their stuff later than they could pick it up from the nearby stores, but slightly faster than other companies who only use the mail for deliveries. Ha, ha, ha.”
Galaxy: “There’s no comparison. Space spells infinite danger. Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars, he says, in case we ruin Earth. The environment on Mars can freeze people to death, not to mention many other lethal threats. It’s one thing to dream, another to be delusional, with all due respect.”
Bezos: “Ah, Galaxy, ye of little faith. Your skepticism gets me to the second part of your question. THIS IS AN ENDLESS BUSINESS IN THE WIDE-OPEN UNIVERSE, FUNDED BY AMERICAN TAXPAYERS AND RICH, BORED SUCKERS WHO WANT a ten-minute thrill straight up to give meaning to their empty lives. We’ve already, before printing tickets, got $100 million in ticket sales.”
Galaxy: “You shake me up, sir. May I quote you verbatim?”
Bezos: “Ha, ha, ha, with a bullhorn! The New York Times gets it. They called my Blue Origin ‘The Amazonification of space, with Big Tech taking over from what was once largely the domain of big government.’ This thrust into Space gets free publicity like mad, gets funded by NASA contracts (you should see the fine print), and gives us all the research and development discoveries and benefits. Only in America, Galaxy!”
Galaxy: “I don’t mean to be impolite, $200 B-Man, but don’t you find it a bit ironic that the great Amazon Forest is on fire, its trees being cut down in the millions every month, and having taken its name free, you’re giving up on Earth where you and your family still live?”
Bezos: “Greg, you just don’t understand modern business. It’s about massive profit margins, minimum tax payment, automated workplaces, government-funded basic research, and government guarantees against risks and losses. The rewards are infinite. The solar system can easily support a trillion humans, which means we would have a thousand Einstein’s and a thousand Mozart’s and unlimited, for all practical purposes, resources and solar power.”
Galaxy: “You just said, ‘I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.’ But you’re known to want to replace all your workers with robots. Who are you going to thank when that happens?”
Bezos: “I’ll thank the robots. By that time, they’re able to reply, ‘thank you, master.’ [Greg thought the big guy was getting a little giddy]. After all, my capsule, New Shepard, took me, Mark, my brother, and two passengers up and down without a pilot—just algorithms, Greg babe, just algorithms. No strikes, no whining, no slacking, no crazy worker demands. (Voice rising) That is a key part of my business plan for the stars, then the galaxies, and the universe!”
Galaxy: “One last question: $200 billion man; do you believe in God?”
Bezos: “You’re looking at him…. for the time being.”
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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future” (2012). His new book is, “Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All” (2020, co-authored with Mark Green).