This Sunday, CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos pledged via Instagram that the company would donate 1 million Australian dollars (around $690,000 USD) to the recovery effort against Australian wildfires that continue to spread across the continent. At first glance, this contribution seems more than generous, after all, hundreds of thousands of dollars are sure to help a great number of victims and wildlife species. When you take into account the massive size of Amazon's wealth, however, it's easy to see that Bezos definitely could (and should!) be doing more.
As of this year, Amazon is capped at $936 billion, with Bezos himself sitting on an estimated net worth of $117 billion. According to a calculation done by Business Insider, Bezos would have made the $690,000 he's donating in less than five minutes in 2018.
As Washington Post data reporter Christopher Ingraham tweeted, Bezos donating $690,000 is equivalent to an American with a median income donating 63 cents.
Combine that with the fact that Amazon paid exactly $0 in taxes last year, and it's easy to see that the company is by no means struggling to come up with that money.
So despite his best intentions, in contributing this laughably small amount of his wealth to the wildfire recovery effort, Bezos has painted a picture of himself not as a giving man with genuine concerns about the environment, but as a selfish billionaire who cares solely about lining his pockets and preserving his image.
Bezos does not have a very strong history of generosity, either, and the main example of this comes from labor conditions for Amazon workers. Employees at Amazon make an average of $15 an hour, including bonuses and stock options. Though this is well over the federal minimum wage, it is still not a living wage and is accompanied by reportedly poor working conditions. Strict targets and quotas, like packing 120 products in an hour, mean that employees rarely have time for a bathroom break. Employees have also reported receiving "strikes" and warnings for going homesick or being ill on the job. Amazon takes drastic measures to push employees to the breaking point in the name of profit, cruel actions that provide Bezos with billions more dollars to his name each year.
The moral of the story is this: don't let Bezos' shows of "generosity," including this one in Australia, fool you.
If Bezos truly cared about the state of the world and the health of the environment, he could be donating billions upon billions of dollars without even remotely fearing financial insecurity. He could pay his workers living wages while improving working conditions, too. And if Bezos cared about Australia, as he so desperately wants you to believe he does, the amount he donated would be millions of dollars at least, not thousands.
At the end of the day, Bezos has chosen over and over again to favor his wealth over the wellbeing of the world and its people. He deserves no positive recognition for that.