Why Many Americans Are Indifferent to the “Second Great Space Race”

Follow WeTheCommoners Blog on WordPress.com

By Quentin Choy

July 20, 2021

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are all competing to be “Space’s billionaire.” While many news outlets and media companies are hyping this up as the “second great space race,” I feel like most normal people don’t care all that much.

Problems on Earth like climate change, stagnant wages, and monopolies create a general distrust of billionaires like Jeff Bezos. People tune out excessive media coverage of billionaires like Bezos, Musk, and Branson touring space while they know that more pressing issues are facing their daily lives.

Media Coverage

People from all across the political spectrum are indifferent or hostile toward this so-called second great space race. Fox Newscoverage of the launch has about 45% dislikes from its viewers on YouTube. About 9% of ABC Newscoverage received dislikes. 26% of viewers watching CNN‘s coverage disliked the video.

Most dislikes came from the Fox News viewers who are likely more conservative than viewers of CNN or ABC News.

I think this comes from many conservative viewers of Fox News believing that the rest of mainstream media is elitist and opposes the average working-class American.

While I think all three of these news outlets don’t support the working-class, Fox News does its best to appear like it cares through its cultural conservatism which many working-class workers identify with.

Aside from their distrust in CNN and ABC News, many working-class Americans distrust Jeff Bezos himself. They know that he doesn’t pay his fair share of taxes and that working conditions for Amazon are bad.

This awareness coupled with his seemingly out-of-touch space ventures results in distrust from the working-class left and right. Blogger Jill Dennison covers her thoughts on “billionaires playing Buzz Lightyear” in her post which you can read here.

Issue #1: Climate Change

Several problems already exist on Earth. Some can be solved by these billionaires, but some are caused by them as well.

The first issue that can be solved or at least addressed, is the issue of climate change.

Wildfires and droughts ravage the western United States. Floods in Germany are wiping out towns and killing dozens of people. Many people question why billionaires spend their time trying to leave Earth rather than trying to save it.

Some conservatives like Charles C.W. Cooke at the National Review argue that billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson owe Americans nothing.

“‘Why don’t they fix the problems on earth?’ Sure, they could do that, if they want to. But if they don’t? That’s fine, too. The thing is — and this seems to be the part that far too many people seem to struggle with — it’s their money. It’s not your money; it’s theirs. And you don’t get a say in how they spend it.”

From the National Review’s “Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson Owe You Nothing

While many conservative working-class Americans likely disagree with Cooke’s take on billionaire space travel, Jeff Bezos holds responsibility for the next issue that he could solve.

Issue #2: Stagnant Wages and Poor Working Conditions

In the United States, workers face financial hardship and stagnant, low minimum wages. The federal minimum wage is currently just $7.25/hour.

Workers for Amazon have informed several media outlets about being forced to skip bathroom breaks skip lunch breaks, and even having to pee in water bottles.

According to VICE News, an Amazon trainer in South Bend, Indiana tells female-employees to invest in “She-Wees,” a portable female urinal. Reports from workers say that they can be fired if caught peeing in public.

“I am a trainer for my [delivery company] and I tell all the new girls to invest in a she wee or you will not make it at this job.”

Amazon trainer in South Bend, Indiana

Aside from poor working conditions in Bezos’ company, workers across the United States cannot afford necessities off of most minimum wages.

A recent study found that full-time minimum-wage earners can’t afford a fair market rent on a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.

“In its signature Out of Reach report released this week, the National Low Income Housing Coalition determined that a full-time hourly worker would need to earn $24.90 an hour, more than three times the $7.25 federal minimum wage, in order to afford a $1,295-a-month rental home.”

National Low Income Housing Coalition 2021 Study

With the NLIHC report saying that the lowest wage needed (West Virginia) is $14.83, and the highest one needed (California) is $39.03 to make rent, the fight for a $15 minimum wage is quite the tame compromise by workers.

However, such legislation is still viewed as “radical” by many lawmakers in Washington D.C.

Issue #3: Paying $0 in Taxes

According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Amazon paid $0 in federal income taxes in 2019.

Most average Americans pay more in taxes than Jeff Bezos, whose company makes billions of dollars each year.

“This isn’t the first year that the cyber-retailing giant has avoided federal taxes. Last year, the company paid no federal corporate income taxes on $5.6 billion in U.S. income.”

From ITEP’s “Amazon in Its Prime: Doubles Profits, Pays $0 in Federal Income Taxes

Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clark (D-MA) tweeted that billionaires ought to pay their fair share.

While perceived “radicals” like Bernie Sanders have been calling for fair taxation of the rich for years, these space tours have really put things into perspective for many people.

Taxing the rich is not some sort of communist agenda. It simply means to tax wealthy Americans like Jeff Bezos at fair rates. People debate what that fair rate should be, but $0 in taxes for a man worth far more than the average American is not that rate.

Over 170,000 people signed a petition to “not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth.” Imagine how disliked you must be from working people to have tens of thousands sign a petition banishing you from Earth!

Conclusion

Overall, these billionaire space adventures are a waste of time and money. I don’t see how it affects normal working-class Americans in any way. The United States already reached the moon and beyond through NASA.

If these men want to fly around in their space toys, that’s fine, but they should expect resentment from normal people who work for low wages and pay more in taxes.

While the media continues to interview and obsess people like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, most Americans will not remember them as space pioneers.

Rather, they will be remembered as what Jill Dennison calls “three men whose combined wealth could raise the entire planet out of poverty and have made their wealth from the blood, sweat and tears of the average Joe.”

Follow WeTheCommoners Blog on WordPress.com

15 comments / Add your comment below

  1. SoundEagle,

    Thanks for including other bloggers and their comments on the topic. I think that you’re right about humanity being likely to “export their problems” from Earth to other planets should they make it there.

    I also liked what you said about survival being the exception to extinction. While disheartening, your comment is filled with nothing but truth.

    Thanks,
    Quentin

  2. Dear Quentin,

    I concur with you. The language and stance adopted by those billionaires are very much that of a technoutopian.

    Despite years of flashing out the (conceptual, philosophical, ethical, practical and/or social) framework in examining the possibility or plausibility of environmentalism meeting the needs and expectations of all humanity to help us to survive as a species, fundamental progress is still far too slow. There may be no hope for humanity on Earth as we continue our wasteful and non-sustainable existence plus over-population. As for the future of humanity and migrating to other extra-terrestrial world(s), I have the following to add. Let me quote just a paragraph from one of my fellow bloggers by the name of Robert Elessar as follows:

    Of course, as physicist and pioneer of quantum computation David Deutsch argues beautifully in his book The Beginning of Infinity, we humans—and our descendants, whether biological or technological or both—have the potential really to become significant on a cosmic scale. As he also points out, there is no guarantee that we will do so, but there appears to be nothing in the laws of nature that prevents it. It’s up to us** to decide.

    Furthermore, I would like to add that the culture of expansion and exploitation as well as the ever-burgeoning population seem to be both the crux of, and the bottleneck to, our becoming significant on a cosmic scale.

    Since the human species has not (always, adequately and/or consistently) been a good custodian of the environment and the Earth (not to mention countless wars, atrocities, resource depletions, species extinctions, environmental degradations and so on, plus an area of rainforest as big as 100,000 football courts is being cleared or destroyed everyday), there is no assurance that once the human species migrates to another planet, the same problems would not again surface and plague us, perhaps at an even quickening and/or devastating pace as a result of better and greater expansion, production and technology. We would indeed export our baggage and problems to other worlds!

    Another blogger, Matthew Wright, commented to SoundEagle on 16 July 2013 at 11:39 pm as follows:

    I think if we went to Mars, we’d deal to it the same way we’re currently dealing to Earth. Richard Attenborough summed it up when he referred to us as the ‘scourge’ of the planet. Caused an outcry, but it seems to be true. Jared Diamond has published a good analysis of it, if a little deterministic for my liking. The reason would seem to be a faulty survival mechanism – hard-wired techniques for maximising resources that worked when we were on the ragged edge of extinction in the ice age, but now serve to create problems.

    Perhaps we could also liken humans as cancer cells on the petri dish that is Earth.

    Extinction is a euphemism for extermination, considering how many and the manner in which members of many endangered species have met their fate and untimely end.

    More than 99% of all species that ever appear on Earth are already extinct since life began.

    The average lifespan of a species is one million years. The human species (counting the early hominids) has lasted six million years. Extinction is the rule; survival is the exception.

    Even if humanity were to survive and later conquer other planets, there will be no guarantee that humanity will not repeat its mistakes and export its problems to other extra-terrestrial worlds.

    As you probably already know, we are already in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction. If you are interested, the main issue is twofold: speciesism and anthropocentricism. Until we critically deal with the main issue, even environmentalism in all its diversity may not suffice to turn things around, as discussed in my multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary post entitled “SoundEagle in Debating Animal Artistry and Musicality” at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/soundeagle-in-debating-animal-artistry-and-musicality/

    Being simultaneously witty and serious about a number of outstanding issues, the said post actually ventures far beyond whatever its title may suggest or mean to any reader, especially in the very long “Conclusions” section. Please note the ISEA Model that I have devised to analyse and describe the Instrumental, Spiritual, Pro-Environment and Pro-Animal/Plant perspectives.

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

  3. Excellent post, and thank you for the shout out and links back to my post! I greatly appreciate it! I did not watch any news coverage of Bezos’ little trip to the edge of space, for I knew it would only anger me all over again, and I can find more interesting news! I didn’t sign the petition … but I might have if I had known about it 😉

      1. Agreed. Pity that it appears to be on a non-WordPress.com site; it appears that I can’t ‘follow’ it other than by ‘subscribing by email’, something I don’t do (my email flood is hard enough to handle as it is).

      2. I’m on WordPress! Is there any way to create a follow button? I had one at some point but seem to have lost it. If you could help me figure out how to re-add one to the blog, I’d appreciate it very much!

      3. Hmm… interesting… so you are. I reached out to a Happiness Engineer to ask what the problem might be, but they were unable to help (for ‘privacy and security’ reasons, which is understandable). They suggested that you should ask them about it via https://wordpress.com/help/contact

      4. Thanks so much for your help! I appreciate it very much. I will look into it and comment back to you once I figure it out!

      5. Okay, I’ve fixed the site and have added a follow button to the top of the sidebar. Turns out I had to go and add the button as a custom HTML widget! Thanks for your help 🙂

      6. OK. Cool. Ish. I’ve hit your widget and am now your 16th follower (so it claims).

        But that widget is tiny, and very easy to miss. I still don’t see the follow button that I expect to see in the lower right of the screen, a feature that I see on almost every other WordPress site I visit. I’ve been conditioned, over years, to look for that, and I suspect that if it’s not there then you’re going to attract followers at a much slower rate than you otherwise would. I’d suggest that it may be worth investigating further.

      7. I thought he was on WordPress … but now that you mention it, there was no ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ button. Oh yes, I hear you about the flooded inbox! I get, on average, 120 spam emails in a 24-hour period, and over 100 legitimate emails per day, closer to 200, I think. I simply cannot keep up!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: