26 votes

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to address climate change

45 comments

  1. [15]
    Puppersaregood
    Link
    That's more than I thought he would spend. Surprised he didn't just throw a couple million at it. Good job Jeff honestly don't care if it's just for good publicity or not just glad he put a good...

    That's more than I thought he would spend. Surprised he didn't just throw a couple million at it. Good job Jeff honestly don't care if it's just for good publicity or not just glad he put a good amount of money to helping.

    24 votes
    1. [14]
      MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      It's a big number, but it's also only 7.6% of his wealth. He will still have $120 billion even once he spends this $10B on the as yet unspecified projects.

      It's a big number, but it's also only 7.6% of his wealth. He will still have $120 billion even once he spends this $10B on the as yet unspecified projects.

      11 votes
      1. [12]
        timo
        Link Parent
        True, but 7.6% of all your wealth is still quite a lot. It's not like he's throwing some pennies around, which in his case would only be a couple million.

        True, but 7.6% of all your wealth is still quite a lot. It's not like he's throwing some pennies around, which in his case would only be a couple million.

        17 votes
        1. [2]
          Deimos
          Link Parent
          As a comparison, last week he bought the single most expensive property in Beverly Hills, setting a record for highest sale ever in the Los Angeles area (not exactly a cheap location), and it cost...

          As a comparison, last week he bought the single most expensive property in Beverly Hills, setting a record for highest sale ever in the Los Angeles area (not exactly a cheap location), and it cost 0.125% of his net worth. One eighth of one percent.

          The level of wealth Jeff Bezos has is pretty much unimaginable at this point.

          21 votes
          1. SantalBlush
            Link Parent
            That really puts it into perspective.

            If you make $60,000 a year, that’s like spending $75 on a house

            That really puts it into perspective.

            16 votes
        2. [9]
          MimicSquid
          Link Parent
          It's a lot when it matters to quality of life. He's far, far beyond that. A single billion would take care of him and his descendants for many generations. He has far more than that.

          It's a lot when it matters to quality of life. He's far, far beyond that. A single billion would take care of him and his descendants for many generations. He has far more than that.

          14 votes
          1. [8]
            emdash
            Link Parent
            You'd be really surprised how much a private Gulfstream costs to own and operate. Along with the private yacht, and extra money for buying additional land, and sinking additional money into pet...

            You'd be really surprised how much a private Gulfstream costs to own and operate. Along with the private yacht, and extra money for buying additional land, and sinking additional money into pet projects like Blue Origin. Not defending it at all, but once you've got that sort of money and live an exceedingly indulgent lifestyle, why give up more than you feel is necessary?

            We should better focus our energy on making sure billionaires can't exist in the first place.

            14 votes
            1. [7]
              suspended
              Link Parent
              How would we begin to do this?

              We should better focus our energy on making sure billionaires can't exist in the first place.

              How would we begin to do this?

              2 votes
              1. emdash
                Link Parent
                A blended mix of asset and income taxes, I presume. After $1 billion of assets, individuals should be taxed at 100% for both income and assets. There's no reason to have more money than that—and...

                A blended mix of asset and income taxes, I presume. After $1 billion of assets, individuals should be taxed at 100% for both income and assets. There's no reason to have more money than that—and it should be the high water mark in society. If you reach it, congratulations to you (hopefully you reached the goal ethically and honestly).

                14 votes
              2. burkaman
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Well, FDR wanted the highest tax rate for incomes over ~$350,000 (in today's dollars) to be 100%. Congress thought that was too much, and they settled on a 94% rate. So, something like that? 100%...

                Well, FDR wanted the highest tax rate for incomes over ~$350,000 (in today's dollars) to be 100%. Congress thought that was too much, and they settled on a 94% rate.

                So, something like that? 100% tax rate over $10 million or something? Of course you can talk about how rich people can disguise their income and avoid taxes, and this doesn't really address people who already have many billions in assets, but it would be a hugely consequential step that we know is possible because we've done it before.

                12 votes
              3. teaearlgraycold
                Link Parent
                Making everyone resent billionaires rather than envy them.

                Making everyone resent billionaires rather than envy them.

                8 votes
              4. [3]
                placeholder55
                Link Parent
                Electing Bernie would be the first step.

                Electing Bernie would be the first step.

                7 votes
                1. [2]
                  jprich
                  Link Parent
                  AND replacing Congress. Bernie will be great but not if Congress shits all over him.

                  AND replacing Congress. Bernie will be great but not if Congress shits all over him.

                  7 votes
                  1. vord
                    Link Parent
                    At least Bernie could use the White House as a bully pulpit to name and shame those putting profits over people.

                    At least Bernie could use the White House as a bully pulpit to name and shame those putting profits over people.

                    2 votes
      2. thundergolfer
        Link Parent
        If his philanthropy goes like Bill Gates' has, then he'll have more than his current $130 billion once he's spent this $10B. (Gates has doubled his net worth since he started 'giving away' his...

        If his philanthropy goes like Bill Gates' has, then he'll have more than his current $130 billion once he's spent this $10B.

        (Gates has doubled his net worth since he started 'giving away' his fortune)

        9 votes
  2. [8]
    edel
    Link
    Don't buy it! These pledges are well pledges. In the best of cases, is done in a long term and maximized to obtain the best tax rebates for many years to come. More important for them, they get to...

    Don't buy it!
    These pledges are well pledges. In the best of cases, is done in a long term and maximized to obtain the best tax rebates for many years to come. More important for them, they get to control de debate on Climate Change. Finaly, and better yet, convince part of the public they are good social agents and with no monopolistic tendencies.

    He wants to contribute to the Climate Change cause? How much extra CO2 all those vans are doing come to our home twice daily? Offset that! Get taxed how business were taxed in the American golden age, called like that for a reason! And make true competition a reality, or you think Amazon would keep being cheap once there is no competition left? All those hundreds of billions in investment for sure are not betting on that!

    Let's not even start on the free banking on colossal amounts of data that in a decade or two, we would find out the true collateral damage of that on our societies. But hey, let's applaud his uninterested benevolence.

    16 votes
    1. [7]
      Adys
      Link Parent
      This attitude would kill us faster than fossil fuels. You don't have to like Bezos or believe he's a selfless soul that wants the best for the planet. But shitting on a $10B pledge is foot-gun...

      This attitude would kill us faster than fossil fuels.

      You don't have to like Bezos or believe he's a selfless soul that wants the best for the planet. But shitting on a $10B pledge is foot-gun material.

      I'm no fan of capitalism but I don't see many countries pledging billions towards climate change, so in truth it's probably good we have some billionaires out there that can and do.

      24 votes
      1. [3]
        vord
        Link Parent
        I'm with @edel on this one. A broad, generic 'I'm donating 10 Billion to fight Climate Change' is a manipulative gimmick at best. For $10 billion, he could double the federal solar incentive...

        I'm with @edel on this one. A broad, generic 'I'm donating 10 Billion to fight Climate Change' is a manipulative gimmick at best.

        For $10 billion, he could double the federal solar incentive (~$5,000) for the next 2 million people to install solar panels on their homes.

        Or, he could buy 14,285 electric busses....enough to replace almost every bus in New York City and all of California.

        Those are a hell of a lot less vague, and could yield substantial, measurable differences. Heck, don't decommission all the old busses and use the new busses to expand and improve service to reduce reliance on individual vehicles.

        I'm thinking back to the whole 'next Amazon headquarters' fiasco and seriously doubting any genuine goodwill coming out of Bezos. He's a robber baron and should be treated like one.

        17 votes
        1. [2]
          patience_limited
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I'd be inclined to agree with you and /u/edel, but note that the article mentions Bezos has also ordered 100,000 electric trucks for Amazon's fleet. It's certainly true that Jeff Bezos and other...

          I'd be inclined to agree with you and /u/edel, but note that the article mentions Bezos has also ordered 100,000 electric trucks for Amazon's fleet.

          It's certainly true that Jeff Bezos and other multi-billionaires have accumulated wealth to an extreme that just, equitable taxation and regulation would have prevented. It's also true that they're gaming the political system and public opinion to ensure they can hold onto their wealth indefinitely.

          But that doesn't mean Bezos' climate fund initiative is entirely based on bad faith. It seems he believes it's a personal threat, and is at least willing to invest in Plan B (stopping/reversing climate change) in the event that he doesn't get to decamp for space when things go pear-shaped on Earth. I suppose it's trusting too much, but he's at least willing to concede that a threat to human life probably includes him; I'm fine with Bezos investing in the basic research as long as he doesn't manage to twist the outcome to his exclusive personal benefit.

          5 votes
          1. vord
            Link Parent
            Good on Amazon for the electric fleet, but that's more in line with 'Amazon going sustainable to meet their own obligations' and less with 'using attained wealth from Amazon for the greater good...

            Good on Amazon for the electric fleet, but that's more in line with 'Amazon going sustainable to meet their own obligations' and less with 'using attained wealth from Amazon for the greater good of society.'

            Electric vehicles for Amazon's fleet is good, but is mostly good for Amazon's PR and future profits. Electric buses by contrast are good for the public at large, including those who aren't Amazon customers. And the example I provided was with Bezos 100% funding all those buses and donating them. The money could go much further by splitting costs with the organizations obtaining them. That kind of money could facilitate drastically expanding bus systems to make them a better alternative to private vehicles.

            8 votes
      2. [3]
        edel
        Link Parent
        I have no opinion on Bezos, he is good at what he is, make money. I have no problem even with Capitalism. I have a problem with diversion from the real matter; the increasing inequality never seen...

        I have no opinion on Bezos, he is good at what he is, make money. I have no problem even with Capitalism.

        I have a problem with diversion from the real matter; the increasing inequality never seen before in modern era and rampant monopolistic companies that 2 decades ago would had been heavily regulated. These types of moves are calculated moves to divide the people (I see it already here in how good it works) so legislators don't feel a compelling reason to regulate either monopolies, nor taxation.

        Let me give you an example, when a company injures you, any lawyer would tell you no to accept anything from it, or it may be seeming as you accept that as a compensation for the damages. Lawyers know how these things work.

        Again, nothing against Bezos, ultimately and legally, he just has to satisfy his stockholders... and they are very happy for a reason.

        8 votes
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          You seem to think we're giving up something incredibly important by saying this is a good deal. What is it? Something to do with inequality, sure, but what, exactly? A lawyer would tell you that...

          You seem to think we're giving up something incredibly important by saying this is a good deal. What is it? Something to do with inequality, sure, but what, exactly?

          A lawyer would tell you that if someone is making a $10 billion pledge and all you have to do is say something nice about them, take the deal. Praise is free. It doesn't limit your future actions.

          Although, really, there is no deal, and it doesn't matter. He's still going to do it if you don't praise him. But it seems like you're looking for a reason to be stingy with praise?

          11 votes
        2. Adys
          Link Parent
          I also know how these things work. And sure, a lawyer would tell you that, because a company will seldom offer you everything you could get / deserve from such an injury. Or, you could take it,...

          Let me give you an example, when a company injures you, any lawyer would tell you no to accept anything from it, or it may be seeming as you accept that as a compensation for the damages. Lawyers know how these things work.

          I also know how these things work. And sure, a lawyer would tell you that, because a company will seldom offer you everything you could get / deserve from such an injury. Or, you could take it, because it's often not worth fighting it out in court; you may not have the means to do so (materially or mentally), or you simply may end up spending more on attorney fees than the difference.

          Anyway, you call inequality the real matter, I call climate change the real matter. Only one of the two of them has the capacity to actually render the planet unlivable for a great majority of humans.

          2 votes
  3. [3]
    Hidegger
    Link
    This is more like he's one of the hundreds of billionaires finally paying their exploit/carbon tax (which might actually be more than this for all we know). Now if all of the other billionaires...

    This is more like he's one of the hundreds of billionaires finally paying their exploit/carbon tax (which might actually be more than this for all we know). Now if all of the other billionaires followed suit and payed a relative tax to combating the problems they created in their get-rich schemes, we might actually get somewhere.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      DanBC
      Link Parent
      I feel like it's yet another example of a rich person green-washing their activities while continuing to do stuff that destroys the planet.

      I feel like it's yet another example of a rich person green-washing their activities while continuing to do stuff that destroys the planet.

      8 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        Policies like carbon taxes are mostly green-washing. Here's a great write-up that probably deserves its own topic on the matter. https://paulcockshott.wordpress.com/2019/05/06/no-to-carbon-taxes/

        Policies like carbon taxes are mostly green-washing. Here's a great write-up that probably deserves its own topic on the matter.

        https://paulcockshott.wordpress.com/2019/05/06/no-to-carbon-taxes/

        3 votes
  4. [5]
    SantalBlush
    Link
    I'm no fan of Bezos, but this is plainly a good thing for the fight against climate change. Perhaps the best thing that will come of this, besides the direct capital investments toward mitigating...

    I'm no fan of Bezos, but this is plainly a good thing for the fight against climate change. Perhaps the best thing that will come of this, besides the direct capital investments toward mitigating climate change, is the effect it will have on shifting public opinion. We have the richest businessman in the US--a Randian no less--donating a non-negligible portion of his wealth to this cause; that could change it from a hippie, partisan issue to a crisis in need of action in the eyes of many skeptics, which is fantastic.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      thundergolfer
      Link Parent
      The people so stupid or deluded that they still think Climate Change is a "hippie, partisan issue" couldn't give less of a shit that Bezos is 'committing' 10 billion.

      The people so stupid or deluded that they still think Climate Change is a "hippie, partisan issue" couldn't give less of a shit that Bezos is 'committing' 10 billion.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        SantalBlush
        Link Parent
        I disagree. A lot of people out there care about what Jeff Bezos says and does; they just don't care about what you say and do.

        I disagree. A lot of people out there care about what Jeff Bezos says and does; they just don't care about what you say and do.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          thundergolfer
          Link Parent
          You've disagreed but not actually addressed my counterpoint.

          You've disagreed but not actually addressed my counterpoint.

          4 votes
          1. SantalBlush
            Link Parent
            Yes, that's correct. You're not owed a thoughtful response for your low effort comment. I guess that means you win.

            Yes, that's correct. You're not owed a thoughtful response for your low effort comment. I guess that means you win.

            1 vote
  5. Kuromantis
    Link
    That's a really big band-aid sure, but not really a remedy.

    That's a really big band-aid sure, but not really a remedy.

    1 vote
  6. [3]
    Surira
    Link
    Sorry, I don't buy into billionaire charity gimmicks.

    Sorry, I don't buy into billionaire charity gimmicks.

    7 votes
    1. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      He's spending 10 now to try and save being taxed 50 later

      He's spending 10 now to try and save being taxed 50 later

      6 votes
    2. vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      If a multi-billionaire is still a multi-billionaire after giving away charity funds, and/or those charitable funds are still somehow controllable by them, then it's almost certainly a PR move at...

      If a multi-billionaire is still a multi-billionaire after giving away charity funds, and/or those charitable funds are still somehow controllable by them, then it's almost certainly a PR move at best and not entirely a legitimate effort to better humanity.

      I live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, and I could sustain it with 0 work for 20+ years with $2 million in wealth. With $10 billion in wealth, I could give away $2 million daily to random people for 13 years, and still have over $500 million leftover. And that's not even factoring the growth that $10 billion in invested funds would have over the course of that time.

      Edit: If Bezos distributed his net wealth ($129.9 billion) in the same manner, to go down to only $500 million and assuming no future growth of wealth, he could give away $2 million over 13.653 times a day for 13 years and still have way more than $500 million due to rounding errors. Math is fun.

      6 votes
  7. [2]
    asoftbird
    Link
    Paywalled for me. See here: http://archive.is/eb3kq

    Paywalled for me.
    See here: http://archive.is/eb3kq

    3 votes
  8. [8]
    Turtle
    Link
    Wow thats incredibly generous. Thank you Jeff!

    Wow thats incredibly generous. Thank you Jeff!

    3 votes
    1. [7]
      thundergolfer
      Link Parent
      For something to be "incredibly generous" I'd say there must be present some amount of personal sacrifice. Giving away $10 billion is not going to negatively affect his life at all. He'll still...

      For something to be "incredibly generous" I'd say there must be present some amount of personal sacrifice. Giving away $10 billion is not going to negatively affect his life at all. He'll still live in multiple of the most expensive houses in the entire USA, including the most expensive ever. He'll still fly around the world whenever he wants in a private jet, still eat at the most expensive restaurants, wear watches worth more than I make in a year, etc. etc.

      7 votes
      1. [6]
        Turtle
        Link Parent
        Even if it's not going to involve any cut's to his lifestyle, 10 Billion is still A LOT of money and a significant portion of his net worth and even more of his liquid assets. Its more than I and...

        Even if it's not going to involve any cut's to his lifestyle, 10 Billion is still A LOT of money and a significant portion of his net worth and even more of his liquid assets. Its more than I and likely most people would ever give if we had his amount of wealth. Bezos is literally doing more for the planet than you or I and all of our descendants will ever do, and you're complaining? And so I repeat, thank you Jeff!

        4 votes
        1. thundergolfer
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I vehemently disagree with this framing. There's a lot to unpack about why, but here's a simple demonstration of the problem that's near enough to the core issue. If person A has 100,000,000,000...

          Bezos is literally doing more for the planet than you or I and all of our descendants will ever do, and you're complaining?

          I vehemently disagree with this framing. There's a lot to unpack about why, but here's a simple demonstration of the problem that's near enough to the core issue.

          If person A has 100,000,000,000 apples and person B has 2 apples, and there's 10,000 hungry people that need apples so as to not starve, Person B should be able to complain if person B gives 1 of their apples to the hungry people (keeping 1 so they don't starve) but person A gives 1,000.

          Person A in no way requires the amount of apples he has, but has left 9,000 people without an apple. He ought to give more, and is blameworthy. Person B, in this scenario, is not blameworthy, despite giving 999 fewer apples.


          Also the amount of resources Bezos consumes, which actively hurts Climate Change actions, shows he doesn't really want to give up things he likes. Bezos is not a vegan, for example.

          9 votes
        2. [4]
          hungariantoast
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          That's the thing though, it is not a significant amount of his total wealth. Sure, it might be 7.6% of what he is worth, but this is not going to impact his quality of life, he is not even going...

          a significant portion of his net worth and even more of his liquid assets.

          That's the thing though, it is not a significant amount of his total wealth.

          Sure, it might be 7.6% of what he is worth, but this is not going to impact his quality of life, he is not even going to feel this. This is not going to affect him like it would you or me.

          Bezos is literally doing more for the planet than you or I and all of our descendants will ever do

          He is also responsible for vastly more against the planet than just about anyone else on Earth. Is ten billion dollars really enough to offset the damage he is responsible for? I don't think it is.


          You and no one else on Earth should be congratulating or thanking Bezos for this, you should instead be demanding he contribute more.

          7 votes
          1. [3]
            Keegan
            Link Parent
            I would consider donating 7.6% of my wealth to be significant. I am no billionaire though. At least he is helping in some way I suppose. It could be worse.

            it is not a significant amount of his total wealth.

            I would consider donating 7.6% of my wealth to be significant. I am no billionaire though. At least he is helping in some way I suppose. It could be worse.

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              hungariantoast
              Link Parent
              Yeah, 7.6% of your wealth or my wealth would be significant, life-impacting even. Jeff Bezos is still the richest man in the world. He is still worth over one hundred billion dollars.

              Yeah, 7.6% of your wealth or my wealth would be significant, life-impacting even.

              Jeff Bezos is still the richest man in the world. He is still worth over one hundred billion dollars.

              10 votes
              1. Keegan
                Link Parent
                Yes but you can't call that sum insignificant to him. I'm sure his yachts are quite important to him emotionally.

                Yes but you can't call that sum insignificant to him. I'm sure his yachts are quite important to him emotionally.

                1 vote