Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, is he required to give back?

Courtesy: ZDNet

This Friday I awoke to dozens of news stories reporting that the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, already the richest man in the world, just got richer.

Bezos’ net worth is now over $120 billion, making him the single richest person in the world.

In a sea of articles detailing Bezos’ stunning success and revolutionary business savvy, there seemed to be very few articles written about just how astronomical that amount truly is.

An article from Business Insider by Tanza Loudenback titled “7 mind-blowing facts about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ $105 billion fortune” Loudenback shares startling facts about Bezos’ wealth, which has grown since the article was published.

One fact in particular addressed the almost unbelievable gap between the world of billionaires and young adults today.

According to Loudenback “Bezos makes more money in one minute than the average millennial makes in a year.”

Of course this comparison is shocking but it is not a complete surprise. As a millennial, I struggle to maintain an average bank account balance of 4 digits. And I’m not alone.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, more millennial households live below the poverty line than households headed by any other generation.  

Most of us work our way through college in the hopes of securing a livable wage in the future, facing increases in tuition and record breaking student loan debt.

And while most millennials struggle to find affordable housing, according to a magazine called The Land Report Jeff Bezos owns 290,000 acres of land and is the 25th largest landowner in America.

With this in mind, is it any wonder why over 48,000 of Bezos’ twitter followers responded to a tweet he posted June 15, 2017 calling for suggestions of how he should spend some of his billions on philanthropy projects.

“This tweet is a request for ideas,” Bezos tweeted. “I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now – short term – at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

The tweet garnered a flood of requests ranging from small donations to individuals in need of homes and cars, to followers sharing inspiring non-profits in their area.

But as of today, Bezos has not made any efforts to act on these requests.

My point is not that Bezos doesn’t deserve his billions of dollars, I’m as much of an Amazon lover as the next millennial.

No my point is really a question. In an economy that produces so much wealth for one person at what point are these billionaires required to start giving back?

Perhaps there is no obligation for the Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos of the world to give any of their money away. In fact, most of their net worth is in stocks and shares of their companies not actually immediately accessible.

And after all it is their right to buy mansions, fancy cars and private islands, who among us wouldn’t if we had that much cash laying around?

But is there a moral obligation to give back? 120 billion dollars is an obscene amount of money for a single individual, no matter where you’re from or what you believe. And Bezos’ net worth is only expected to grow.

I suppose until Bezos responds to the nearly 50,000 requests from his Twitter followers, we won’t know what types of philanthropic donations he will make.

All I can offer is a word of caution about relying on the wealth of the mega rich to save the poor. Don’t hold your breath for a new car from Bezos or a scholarship for next semester’s tuition.

The world has yet to see this happen. But I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.


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