Two things made me wonder what would happen if Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth. Firstly, the conversation started with a Twitter thread by Jane Chung claiming that Silicon Valley billionaires can eradicate global starvation, malaria, famine, and homelessness with their wealth. Secondly, Jeff Bezos’s tweet in which he asked people to help him formulate a philanthropy strategy.
So I decided why not to write about if Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth, what would happen then.
Bezos asked people to give him ideas for philanthropy work
In 2017, Bezos tweeted and asked people to help him formulate a philanthropy strategy. In the tweet, he asked people to give him ideas. Though I am late in the party and giving him ideas in 2022, still better late than never. The good thing is that he believed that all his businesses are already serving humanity in their unique ways. He just wanted to do more for humanity.
According to reports, he has given away 1% or $2.1 billion in charity, which is way less than others billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Similarly, his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott has given away 18% of her $46.7 billion net worth. There is a lack of charitable donations that he cannot even deny. But in his defence, he is spending his money on future like space travel, which would save civilization.
Please note that in no way do I intend to ridicule Jeff Bezos for his less charity work. The $168.5 billion belongs to Jeff Bezos, and it is up to him to however he spends it. He is entitled to spend his money on anything on the earth or in space, it is his hard-earned money.
I even do believe that his heart is at the right place. Just only recently, Jeff Bezos announced to donate $100 million each to two charities, which he called Courage and Civility Award for people who demonstrated courage. The announcement included donations to celebrity chef José Andrés for his charity, World Central Kitchen, and prominent climate activist Van Jones.
Over here, I am just trying to give my imagination. So keep reading if you want to know what would happen to the world if Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth.
It is the hard-earned money of Jeff Bezos
Amazon, which enabled Bezos to become the world’s richest billionaire started at a rental home garage in Washington in 1995. Before starting his business, Bezos worked at D.E. Shaw and left it for his online retail business. Initially, Bezos was clueless about what he wanted to sell, so eventually, he decided to sell books online. He and his wife drove off to Seattle — MacKenzie drove while Jeff made the business plan. With the initial investment of his parents and friends, Amazon started its operations as an online bookseller.
Amazon started as an online bookseller, selling the largest books collections in the world online. At the start, Bezos had experienced all sorts of setbacks. It was challenging to get an investment on this novel business idea, thus hampering the growth. Bezos and his employees at the beginning used to hand-packed each book and then dispatched them off to the post office themselves by hand.
Amazon, despite the challenges, grew and now has become the world’s leading e-commerce marketplace. Now, Amazon is the Everything Store, selling everything from Baby diapers to Smart TV. Whatever your mind can think of is available at Amazon.
Behind the success of Amazon, there is a hard work and vision of Jeff Bezos. Amazon was a novel idea, unheard one — Bezos against all odds worked on this idea and achieved success. Now, the company has expanded to other dimensions, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and digital streaming.
Amazon employs 1.3 million people globally out of which 950,000 are in the USA, which means; “one out of every 350 Americans works for Amazon, or one out of every 153 employed workers in the US“— Source: Business Insider
Besides, the company earned more than $221 billion in revenues in 2021 and has a valuation of $1.54 trillion — making it fall in the group of trillion-dollar companies. While Jeff Bezos is the second richest person after Elon Musk.
So, this is the size and magnitude of Amazon’s success and influence. All this success is due to the vision of Jeff Bezos. So, it is unfair for anyone to dictate to him what to do with his wealth.
But, here we are presenting just a hypothesis cause he asked for it back in 2017.
So, let’s find out together what would happen if Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth or part thereof.
If Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth or part thereof, what would happen?
Jeff Bezos has been criticized several times for his lack of philanthropy work. According to an article in New York Times by Dr. Harold Pollack, Bezos’s charity work lacks creativity and strategic vision, he further stated:
(Bezos) has done conspicuously less to aid humanity than have many other tycoons, even those who command far less wealth.
So how far does his wealth can solve the world’s catastrophes and dilemmas, keep reading!
Jeff Bezos could give everyone on the earth $21.45 each if he were to give away his wealth
If Jeff Bezos decides to give away all his wealth (at the time I am looking at it, his real-time net worth is $168.5 billion), then each human being on earth which is 7.88 billion, would get $21.45 each. So, let’s get this rumor out of the way started from an Instagram post that states:
If Bezos has 200 billion dollas, and there are 7 billion people on earth, why can’t we each get a billion and (he’d) be left with 193 billion dollas?
This is ridiculous, first because of the questionable English and second because of the math.
For 7.8 billion people to have a billion each then Jeff Bezos needs to have $7.8 quintillion — 46 million times of Bezos’s current wealth. So, nobody would get billionaire if Jeff Bezos gives away all his hard-earned money.
If Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth then every American citizen would get 510 bucks
With a population of around 330 million, the USA is the third most populous country after China and India. If Jeff Bezos were to give his wealth to all the Americans, then each would get $510.6, which is less than $1,010 — the average weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers in US.
If Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth then every household in Washington State would get $31k
Similarly, if Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth to every household in Washington State, where Amazon has headquartered, then each household would get $31,331 (way less than the median household income of $78,687).
I strongly object to giving people money for not doing anything. I would rather have him spend money on education and health than give cash just like that. As the Chinese proverb says;
If you give a man a fish, he will be hungry tomorrow. If you teach a man to fish, he will be richer forever.
If Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth then many countries could have food
After Bezos spent billions on the space project Blue Origin, the debate surfaced about the expenditure. People argued that he could have spent this money on better things.
According to The International Food Policy Research Institute, it would take around $7 billion to $265 billion per year to end the world’s hunger. Bezos’s wealth is less than needed to eliminate the food insecurity in the world. But, he and other billionaires can contribute equally every year to end starvation and malnutrition globally.
His wealth can also prevent extreme famine to cause havoc in Yemen. United Nations has appealed for $4 billion to prevent the worst famine the world has seen for decades in Yemen. He can end the hunger of 16 million food-insecure people in Yemen with his wealth.
Similarly, with only $67 million (only because it is nothing compared to his gigantic net worth), he can provide food assistance to internally displaced people in Chad. Likewise, his wealth can make all the difference in the lives of the worn-torn food insecure nation of 6.1 million people of South Sudan.
He could give his worldwide employees bonuses of $129k
Amazon is criticized for the rigorous work routine of its employees. Reports even alleged that warehouse employees work like robots. The work pressures have also affected the physical and mental health of employees.
During the pandemic, the Amazon business thrived — the employees’ work-load escalated too. With the current wealth, Bezos could have given Amazon’s 1.3 million globally a $129,615 worth bonus and boosted their morale.
Jeff Bezos along with other billionaires can end up poverty in the world
The world needs $350 billion to end extreme poverty in 59 poor countries, way above Bezos’s wealth. He and other 2,755 billionaires, however, can contribute 5% of their wealth every year to end poverty by 2030.
This 5% of Jeff Bezos’s net worth is $8.43 billion, just a needle in a haystack for old Jeff. But, this amount can bring a lot to the lives of the destitute, including food, health services, clean water, infrastructure, and sanitation.
If Jeff Bezos were to give away a tiny portion of his wealth, he could save children from Tuberculosis
With only $23 billion contributions by Jeff Bezos, can help to prevent tuberculosis in more than 300,000 children worldwide.
Jeff Bezos’s wealth can prevent homelessness in the USA
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it would take $20 billion to eradicate homelessness in the USA. The homeless people population in America is growing each year and causing concerns for the government. Criminal activities and drugs usage by homeless people also put more burden on law enforcing agencies in the country.
So, with this contribution, Jeff Bezos can provide homes to 580,000 homeless people in America.
If Jeff Bezos were to give away 11% of his wealth every year, he could save the planet
Climate change poses a severe threat to humanity. The carbon footprints of various human activities have led to environmental degradation and global warming. Without intervention, climate changes will further escalate and end our civilization.
Transitioning to clean energy is the solution for protecting our environment. According to the UN, the finance needed to eliminate the climate changes globally range between $300 billion and $50 trillion over the next two decades.
So, if every 2,755 billionaires spend $18 billion for the next two decades, we can protect our environment from the harmful impacts of greenhouse gasses. So, if Jeff Bezos were to give only 11% of his wealth every year, then he could contribute towards climate changes prevention.
Skies are limit
There is so much Jeff Bezos, and other billionaires could do with their money, ‘Skies are limit’. I am not saying that he is not doing anything, I mean he does have his fair share of philanthropy work, but space intrigues him more now than life on earth. As Jeff Bezos quoted in a conversation:
Blue Origin is expensive enough to be able to use that fortune, and I’m currently liquidating about a billion dollars a year of Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin.
He further stated that:
With Blue Origin that is I think incredibly important for civilization long-term, and I am gonna use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that.
So basically he is helping the world with Blue Origin, as the Blue Origin future vision is also enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space for the benefit of Earth. It may be true if you see Leonardo DiCaprio’s starrer, Don’t Look Up, because fleeing to space was also the last resort in the movie when the world was on the verge of destruction.
So basically, what Jeff Bezos is trying to do, is enable us to move to space and save the civilization before any comet kills the world. The idea does make sense in a perfect world. Here, going to space does not make sense as people are already dying because of famine, starvation, diseases, climate changes, mental health problems, low employment, and malnutrition. All these situations make life more dangerous to live on earth than any comet striking it.
It is important to save people to save civilization. So, if Jeff Bezos were to give away his wealth, he could do a lot to safe the present and future of the people of this planet.