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    • I was daydreaming yesterday, thinking of the man I once casually knew, who is friends with one of my sons. I dreamed that he would follow Bill Gates into philanthropy. Just think of the good he could do. Instead, I thought he was going through a major mid-life crisis and buying up as many elaborate estates as possible, yada.

      Today the first part of my dream came true! 🎉

      I hope it's going to be directed to more than just climate change. He's a brilliant guy like Gates and Musk, so I imagine some funds will be directed towards waterways, how to deal with plastics, etc. $10 Billion is a hell of a start.

      Now I can start dreaming about him doing it full time like Gates and spending more of his fortune.

    • Bezos committing to fight Climate Change is like Jamie Diamond committing to fight predatory lending. Bezos is a billionaire who contributed to human suffering and now he’s going to save us?

      Cynical me says this is just another distraction to avoid having to pay his fair share of taxes. Like Bloomberg, he’s a billionaire who can use both his media empire and his foundation to quiet dissent.

      Bezos is ruthless in underpaying workers and cutting benefits, such as when he took away healthcare benefits from 1,900 part-time workers this past fall:

      On Friday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) blasted the planned benefit cutback by Whole Foods, taking aim at Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, the grocery chain’s parent company.

      “Amazon’s plan to cut health care for these part-time employees is one of Jeff Bezos’ most brazen attacks on the quality of jobs at Whole Foods and the communities they support,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “Too many workers today are already working two to three jobs just to get the hours and benefits they need, and these cuts by Jeff Bezos just made it harder for them.” (SN News)

      All he’s doing is creating the perception that we need the billionaires to save us and so we should excuse the destruction they caused—and the fact that Amazon paid zero taxes.

      Of course, this is just my cynical opinion and others are welcome to disagree with my assessment. I think Musk has done enormous good with making electric vehicles a normal part of our world: the fact that GM and other car manufacturers are investing billions in EV technology is transformative for our world. I think Gates’s eradicating disease in Africa through his billions is remarkable. But Bezos cheated on his wife, tried to extort billions from NYC and lost, and has shown zero do-gooder efforts until now—after repeated news stories of Amazon paying zero taxes. It’s also been brought up a lot by some of the Democratic candidates for president.

    • I don’t know what happened to Jeff. I knew Bill Gates a little bit and he was ruthless but then he turned into this softie. Was it Melinda? I knew Steve Jobs well and he mellowed a ton also.

    • Even as cynical as I am, I am shocked by this. Soon after public comments in the news for Bezos to increase the wages of warehouse workers, and after Sanders and Warren announced their “tax the rich” plans, Bezos asked Bloomberg if he would run for president.

      Bezos was calling with a question for his fellow billionaire and media mogul: Would Bloomberg consider entering the 2020 presidential race?

      A spokesperson for Bloomberg confirmed the conversation. (Vox)

      To show the impact of Sanders and Warren’s plans on billionaires, below is the amount of money Bezos and Bloomberg would be left with if those plans had been in effect in the past.

      The $10 billion that Bezos is donating to Climate Change is a wise PR move if it helps him to keep the bulk of his $160 billion fortune.

    • Yep, the fact that they are where they are is a reflection of the choices the society makes. In a more just society it would not have been so. But, with that being said, I unreservedly applaud both Bezos and Gates for their actions. They did not have to do that (look to Koch brothers or Larry Ellison, for counter-examples), and yet they did. For that I think they deserve praise and support.

    • But, with that being said, I unreservedly applaud both Bezos and Gates for their actions. They did not have to do that (look to Koch brothers or Larry Ellison, for counter-examples), and yet they did.

      I think it’s a stretch to link Bill Gates’s philanthropic work with Jeff Bezos’s. Ten years ago, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet committed to give 50% of their wealth to charity (Vox).

      By my estimate, Bezos’s is committing to donate two months of his annual capital gains for the next five years.

      How did I calculate that number? A calculator is all you need (@Vilen 😉).

      Bezos fortune is $160,000,000,000.

      Average annual growth of the stock market as a whole is 8%. So conservatively, Bezos’s fortune will grow $13 billion in the next year.

      The Bezos’s foundation won’t spend the $10 billion in one year, but instead over several years. If it’s over 5 years, he’ll have to kick in $2 billion a year.

      So a $2 billion donation a year from the $13 billion annual wealth growth represents a little less than two months.

      Or put another way, he’s donating slightly more than 1% a year of his current fortune.

    • Any amount of donations for the right cause is better than zero. If nothing else, the attention and publicity might encourage others to pitch in. We all live on the same round ball, so everyone here will suffer the consequences of global warming.

      Jeff Bezos, as @jpop pointed out, didn’t have to donate any money like many other billionaires, who don’t.

    • Jeff Bezos, as @jpop pointed out, didn’t have to donate any money like many other billionaires, who don’t.

      I can agree with the recommendations from the tweet that @jpop shared: it’s a productive approach of take the money but don’t stop pressuring for more good in this world.

      But I disagree with the implication that Bezos did this out of the goodness of his heart: everything points to his manipulating public opinion so that he doesn’t end up paying more in taxes or paying more in environmental regulations over Amazon’s packaging and carbon footprint:

      the company revealed its own carbon footprint for the first time, disclosing it emitted about 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018 — the equivalent of burning almost 600,000 tanker trucks’ worth of gasoline.

      “That would put them in the top 150 or 200 emitters in the world,“ (New York Times)

      To the best of my knowledge, Bill Gates didn’t have his stock go up when he poured billions into preventing malaria and other diseases. His commitment to donate 50% of his wealth may have been suspect if it had happened thirty years ago when the Justice Department pursued an anti-trust case to break up Microsoft, but his pledge was ten years ago when he had nothing to gain.

      I think people see “billions” donated and assume the person didn’t have to, but if it allows them to keep their tens of billions, or $160 billion, then it’s a logical price to pay.

      I just don’t think we should assume altruism on Jeff Bezos part here.

    • The image below is the Statement from Amazon Employees for Climate Justice in response to the Bezos fund.

      I didn’t know that Bezos funded Climate Denying think tanks, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but according to The New York Times it’s true.

      CEI’s long, politically powerful history in climate denial:

      In the late 90s and early 2000s, CEI was active in opposing the Kyoto Protocol.

      To influence public opinion, CEI cast doubt on climate science and argued that carbon emissions were beneficial; including running TV ads stating “CO2: they call it pollution; we call it life.”

      During the Obama Administration, CEI fought against efforts to reduce carbon pollution, including the Clean Power Plan (CPP). CEI filed suit against CPP and is working closely with the EPA under Trump to attack the CPP.

      Electing Trump greatly expanded CEI’s influence. Trump selected Myron Ebell, known climate denialist and a Director at CEI, to lead the transition team at EPA, setting the stage for numerous proposals rolling back Obama administration rules limiting carbon pollution.

      The relationship between CEI and EPA has grown so close under Trump that EPA reached out to climate denialist Ebell for help in justifying its leadership’s scientifically erroneous claims about climate change.

      CEI was a crucial advocate urging Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, including by running TV ads asking him to do so.

    • As a consumer, over the years Amazon has made my life several orders of magnitude more convenient for saving me precious TIME (allot of it) while often even providing rara avis stuff that's not easy to find, if at all, in any nearby store.

      So it's not that I would have bought elsewhere that unusual 10W60 synthetic motor oil, the oil filters, and many other items impossible to find otherwise except online. I've been spoiled to levels I never thought possible, all thanks to their efficiency and ease of offering even the most diverse, niche stuff, all in one place, with one click.

      I get what is being described about their ruthlessness in business, and if looking holistically at humanity desirable goals they may even appear just like a tobacco company turned health promoter some day. A wolf in sheep's clothes, Yet, could it be that out of ruthlessness and cutthroat capitalism, raises a potentially shining humanity salvation power? Maybe even decent health care, one day? Simply because they will have the power to put in practice what so many legislative and conflicting interests bodies will never be able to? Completely dominating control of a realm can have benefits that outweigh any disadvantages, to a point perhaps, that critical mass which hasn't been reached yet. Who knows? What do you all think?

    • I just don’t think we should assume altruism on Jeff Bezos part here.

      Perhaps we just shouldn't assume?

      And perhaps a reverse of Hanlon's razor is also true - if someone does something good, it is much more easily explained by a good intention than some convoluted, feint within a feint within a feint, evil plan?

      Mind you, this assumes that we can with reasonable certainty say what is good and what is not, which is, in this context, hardly true. Because the world is complex, and everything we discuss is usually several orders of magnitude more complex that it seems.

    • I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response. Where we disagree, I think, is that if Bezos is doing this to avoid

      (a) vastly greater sums of taxes that he and Amazon might have to pay and

      (b) vastly greater regulation over the 600,000 oil tankers’ worth of pollution Amazon generates annually

      then I think we do have to question his motives, IMO. I’ve been reading Malcom Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers and he makes two extremely important points.

      One is that we have a cultural disposition to default to trust. What that means is that we would have no society if we were constantly suspicious of everyone: we are better off being taken advantage of occasionally from trusting so that we can have good relationships with those who won’t take advantage. There was one guy mentioned in the book who saw through Bernie Madoff’s scam several years before regulators did, but it turned out he was a miserable person who was paranoid and trusted no one.

      So our natural default is to assume that Bezos’s intentions are good. Look at the early responses to this thread and most of them do assume this.

      (I do agree with jpop’s philosophy to use his money and to then seek more good from Bezos. I don’t think that prohibits continuing to view cynically Bezos’s intent.)

      The second point is that even people who assess a person’s honesty for a living (judges, investigators, reporters) are horrid at correctly identifying a mismatch: Bernie Madoff didn’t come across in interviews like a criminal, instead he came across as the last person who would do such a thing.

      So with a little PR magic, Jeff Bezos can suddenly come across as the epitome of noblesse oblige. And I think that’s inherently dangerous, especially when he diverts energy away from the real work that’s required.

      My fear is that people will start to think

      -Don’t worry about fires or drilling and mining in Australia: Jeff Bezos will save us with his $10 billion.

      -We can continue living the way we always have: we’ll just invent ourselves out of this mess with all of the research Bezos’s fund will generate.

    • Let me try another angle.

      What if all of this is not about Mr. Bezos at all?

      Some, not that many, actually, years ago he was just yet another entrepreneur hitting out with an online bookshop idea of sorts. Today - he is still that same individual. Yes, he commands vastly bigger assets, and yet he is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, still the same old human. And a person.

      So I am a bit puzzled where do the ad hominem undertones (not yours, but in all similar discussions about Bezos this or Bezos that) originate from.

      Yes, he has a business persona, exactly because he commands a humongous enterprise. I somewhat doubt it he spends his nights tossing around running complex tax simulations in his head, pretty sure he has a rather large squad of professionals doing that for him, same goes for PR and many other aspects of running a very complicated business. For the same set of system complexity reasons I find it unlikely that he works as a Roman dictator, settling global issues by decree.

      Conversely, being on the outside of his enterprise, I don't feel either qualified or reasonably concerned about exactly how that enterprise's internal proceedings are happening (I do have a pretty good idea of the magnitude of the complexity of it, though). And if a business persona of Mr.Bezos has somehow decided to allow for $10 billion of funds belonging, after all, to him individually, to be devoted to advancing some of the causes I care about, the only actionable thing I have is gratitude. Most certainly not "but what about all that other stuff your enterprise generates because it functions". First, because that, emotionally, it feels (and is) an ungrateful thing to do. Second, rationally, because a) it is an entirely different set of problems and b) it is very badly defined, because it completely ignores the (sorry, overused word in this text) complexity of the enterprise existence, and the balance of good and bad things its existence generates.

      Addressing your other concern about "what if people start to think" - I understand that very well. But why is that a negative that should be cast on a benefactor? People think all manner of strange and dangerous things, e.g. starting to dangerously react to anyone who looks Chinese just because the current coronavirus has started in China. In my view, the correct reaction is to try and educate people, not to denigrate benefactors.

      To complete my nudnik routine, picture you attached is hilarious and relevant, but I can't help but say that the only way to not do any harm is to just do nothing :)

    • Okay, interesting thoughts and perspectives—you gave me much to ponder on, which I enjoy. Yay Cake!

      Just to be different, I’m going to start with the bottom of your response and work my way up.

      the only way to not do any harm is to just do nothing

      Not sure what you mean. Patagonia is considered a responsible corporate citizen, but their high-end mountain trekking gear is made of petroleum-based materials. Would the world be better off if people didn’t travel by plane to summit K2 wearing their gear?

      There is a net good or net bad of any company’s actions. If Amazon replaced all of their vehicles with electrics within the next five years, that would be a huge positive. Whether it would result in a net good for Amazon’s contribution to society is an open question.

      Theranos was a definite net bad.

      "what if people start to think" - I understand that very well. But why is that a negative that should be cast on a benefactor?

      You don’t get to cause destruction and then say “I was just trying to help,” IMO.

      Tom’s Shoes has caused more harm than good to the local communities in Africa it’s given free shoes to.

      And taking things more locally, every time you donate canned goods to a food bank, it often costs them more money than it’s worth. (Source)

      if a business persona of Mr.Bezos has somehow decided to allow for $10 billion of funds belonging, after all, to him individually, to be devoted to advancing some of the causes I care about, the only actionable thing I have is gratitude. Most certainly not "but what about all that other stuff your enterprise generates because it functions".

      I can respect that viewpoint. It’s just not mine. (Not sure how to argue that point.)

      So I am a bit puzzled where do the ad hominem undertones (not yours, but in all similar discussions about Bezos this or Bezos that) originate from.

      Search for a pundit by the name of Anand Giridharadas. He published a book with the point of view that billionaires are trying to convince us that they are the only ones to solve the problems that they helped create. Giridharadas published an essay on this in The New York Times within the last week or so. Also, he has recently become a frequent contributor on MSNBC. Bloomberg is certainly the catalyst for the animosity and ad hominem attacks you’re seeing on social media of late. If you want to go down that rabbit hole—you can’t unsee it once you do—I would check out Giridharadas’s Twitter feed and read the comments for some of his tweets.

    • What if all of this is not about Mr. Bezos at all?

      I can agree that we don't know. But put it this way, logically, if a company does harm to environment, or people, etc., because of how they are operating, and someone related to said company choose to spend money outside that operation for the betterment of environment, it can be hardly argued that the amount isn't pocket change efficiently spent as PR to to create a nice image and hush whomever. And probably set stage for something coming. I dunno why our big brother googel choose to continuously bombard my email with ads about "Amazon will fail one day" but someone sure loves playing fear mongering and it's not to sell pancakes. Very interesting debate between you and @StephenL I really enjoy following it.

    • My favorite people in the world to debate are @mbravo and @jpop. I don’t always agree with them, but they are so incredibly knowledgeable that I have to “bring my A game” to the discussion. And our discussions are always incredibly respectful, which isn’t always easy if there’s passion behind one’s viewpoints—at least for me. I am glad you shared that you are enjoying the discussions between us: I always hope that I’m not the only one who’s enjoying it. 😉

    • Would the world be better off if people didn’t travel by plane to summit K2 wearing their gear?

      I don't know. Do you? I suspect it is difficult to have a yes/no answer to this question, because of a) sheer number of variables involved and b) because of the rabbit hole of trying to find out what "better off" means here. Or what even "better off" means to a "world", and what exactly does "world" means here. And yet, phrases like this get aired many many times a second from every kind of media, and in megazillions of conversations, most of such cases without people actually stopping to think - what is meant here? How do I know? Do I get to make actionable conclusions based on this?

      There is a net good or net bad of any company’s actions.

      That's a good hypothesis. However, I'm at a loss if it can be proven, due to the same factors above. Too many variables. Sketchy definitions of good or bad. Good or bad for whom, or what exactly? Even if we suppose we can account for all the variables, what's the formula?

      Let's take the Theranos example - it was bad, for sure, but... Was it difficult to see that they are not actually doing anything? It was, in hindsight. There was no output. Just hype (and dodgy numbers and reports). They never produced anything at all. Is their eventual airing out and demise a positive effect for future analysis and market sentiment? I'd say yes.

      You don’t get to cause destruction and then say “I was just trying to help,” IMO.

      I agree. But we should be responsible in labeling something as "causing destruction". Newton's 3rd law of motion, slightly frivolously interpreted, tells us that for every action there's an equal and opposing reaction. So when you walk in some direction, you're in fact completely irresponsibly slowing down Earth's rotation a tiny bit, with potentially disastrous consequences. What about all the squashed bugs, killed mosquitoes and other multitudinous violations of Ahimsa? My point is - anything one does has more than one consequence, and each and every one can be interpreted one way or another, taken in or out of context, placed in a wrong one, retold by not entirely exact, or not entirely honest way and then (re)interpreted again with echo chambers ad infinitum. And that's just actions of a single person! Amazon had about 750 thousands employees in 2019, and it goes without saying that complexity of consequences is not linearly derived.

      On the Bloomberg comparison, I freely admit that I am nowhere as immersed into the USA realities as USA citizens (well, some of them) are. However if I remember correctly, Mr. Bloomberg has been on record quite a lot saying some pretty unpleasant things, or at least ones not sitting well with me. Not his business saying it in a press release, but direct first person opinions. Now, I might just be ignorant, but I do not remember Mr. Bezos behaving similarly (in fact, I think he is rather press-averse), and in those rare cases I have read (or seen, at one time, at the very first Re:Invent) his words, those seemed rather rational, and ethically/morally correct where applicable and as seen against my own values.

      I also tend to discount the idea that "billionaires" are trying to convince "us" of something. For several reasons. For starters, based on Ockham's and reverse Hanlon razors. Then, because I kind of insist on the point in my original reply - that we should make an effort and separate individuals and their business/corporate personae. Then I prefer to focus on my own ability to not be convinced of stupid stuff by someone, rather than on the fact that someone might be trying to do that. And last but not least, I take very seriously the very thing referred to above - that doing absolutely anything always bears consequences. And the bigger the undertaking, the more complex, large and often not very easily foreseen the consequences become. And therefore, I prefer to separate things like judgement, blame, gratitude, recognition, etc; and I very much prefer to leave it to an individual to make his/her own moral/ethical assessment of something, than delegate it to a faceless mob or media (all too often not that much different today, sadly) - which in itself as a process seems to me to be quite evil.

      If we don't manage to separate the gratitude from the blame, the easiest and super compelling reductio ad absurdum argument tells us that we would be much better off huddling in the caves with the stone tools, rather than anything else.

      If we do separate those, then we can be grateful for the upsides, and then make our best efforts to isolate the downsides and see how those could be addressed. Paranoia and conspiracy theories and the whole FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) routine are usually not constructive at all, unless you want an irrational mass of unquestioning people as your actors, in which case it is very, very convenient.

    • On the Bloomberg comparison, I freely admit that I am nowhere as immersed into the USA realities as USA citizens (well, some of them) are. However if I remember correctly, Mr. Bloomberg has been on record quite a lot saying some pretty unpleasant things, or at least ones not sitting well with me. Not his business saying it in a press release, but direct first person opinions. Now, I might just be ignorant, but I do not remember Mr. Bezos behaving similarly (in fact, I think he is rather press-averse), and in those rare cases I have read (or seen, at one time, at the very first Re:Invent) his words, those seemed rather rational, and ethically/morally correct where applicable and as seen against my own values.

      Some of the Bloomberg recordings, such as his comments at the Aspen Institute, only came out recently. Because he’s running for President and people started digging.

      Donald Trump got the entertainment press to do glowing puff pieces on him and he was a beloved figure. He also created this humanitarian image as well: he fixed the Central Park skating rink for the city, he had his own charity.

      It wasn’t until he ran for President that the “grab ‘em by the pussy” video was uncovered because people started digging. And New York City discovered his charity was a fraud and shut it down.

      From what you’ve written in the above quote, I think you’re making huge assumptions about Bezos’s ethics and values based on carefully polished statements and appearances. I can certainly provide examples of his less than ethical behavior, both for Amazon the company he has controlling ownership of and Bezos personally. And I think I already have in this thread. I know it’s old fashioned, but I think cheating on his wife makes him morally bankrupt. (I read that he’s already recouped through capital growth the $32 billion he paid as a divorce settlement, which I suppose is tangential to this discussion.)

      I think the central debate here has been around whether to give Bezos the benefit of the doubt as far as his intentions. Interesting correction to something I incorrectly stated much earlier in this thread. I said that Gates pledged to give away half of his fortune when the anti-trust case against Microsoft was behind him. It turns out that the case was very much alive when he “coincidentally” decided to make that pledge.

    • I think I’m with @StephenL on this one. Bezos jumped on the bandwagon as soon as Fink (Blackrock) basically told all CEOs they are going to have to deal with climate change if they want to stay in the game.