Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Jeff Bezos speaks at an event

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos talks about his Blue Origin Space Program during a keynote session in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 6, 2019. (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

'Human Folly, Not Human Achievement': Oxfam Slams Bezos Space Trip as Billions Suffer on Earth

"We've now reached stratospheric inequality. Billionaires burning into space, away from a world of pandemic, climate change, and starvation."

Jake Johnson

With billionaire Jeff Bezos set to take flight into space Tuesday aboard an unpiloted Blue Origin rocket, the humanitarian group Oxfam International blasted the world's richest man as the avatar of a system that allows a handful of people accumulate enough wealth to flee the planet amid widespread suffering on an increasingly polluted, warming, and pandemic-ravaged Earth.

"What we need is a fair tax system that allows more investment into ending hunger and poverty, into education and healthcare, and into saving the planet from the growing climate crisis—rather than leaving it."
—Deepak Xavier

"We've now reached stratospheric inequality," Oxfam's Deepak Xavier said in a statement Monday. "Billionaires burning into space, away from a world of pandemic, climate change, and starvation."

Xavier pointed to a recent Oxfam report showing that 11 people on Earth are dying of hunger every minute, just one example of the needless hardship that billions are experiencing as Bezos embarks on his "joyride" into space—which he hopes will set the stage for a profitable tourism business that caters to the whims of the rich.

"The ultra-rich are being propped up by unfair tax systems and pitiful labor protections," said Xavier. "Bezos pays next to no U.S. income tax but can spend $7.5 billion on his own aerospace adventure. Bezos' fortune has almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic. He could afford to pay for everyone on Earth to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and still be richer than he was when the pandemic began."

"What we need," Xavier added, "is a fair tax system that allows more investment into ending hunger and poverty, into education and healthcare, and into saving the planet from the growing climate crisis—rather than leaving it."

Bezos' flight will come just a week after fellow billionaire Richard Branson journeyed to the edge of space in what the Virgin Group founder hopes will be the start of a series of commercial space flights—for those who can cover the high cost of a ticket.

"About two million people can afford to go to space, according to equity analysts at Vertical Research Partners, with that high-net-wealth population growing at around 6% each year," the Wall Street Journal reported last week. "It estimates that Virgin needs to transport around 1,700, or about 0.08% of those individuals, to space each year for its model to work."

Virgin Galactic says it has collected around $80 million in sales and deposits by selling tickets at roughly $250,000 a clip. Among the early customers is billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk, whose wealth has grown by more than $138 billion during the pandemic. Blue Origin, for its part, is reportedly planning to charge upwards of $300,000 per seat for future 11-minute flights, which will feature several minutes of weightlessness just past the edge of space.

"Class warfare is Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson becoming $250 billion richer during the pandemic, paying a lower tax rate than a nurse, and racing to outer space while the planet burns and millions go without healthcare, housing, and food," tweeted Warren Gunnels, staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Judge's Ruling Puts New York Gun Control Efforts on Path Back to Supreme Court

"Judges award themselves maximal protection against guns and then tell parents around the country that they have no power to keep guns out of daycare," said one critic.

Julia Conley ·


'Next Up? Legalize It': Advocates Cheer Biden Move to Pardon Marijuana Convictions

"This is what pressure and advocacy look like," said anti-poverty activist Joe Sanberg. "This must be the first of many steps to ending our decadeslong failed policies on marijuana."

Brett Wilkins ·


At Least 66 Clinics in 15 States Have Ended Abortion Care Post-Dobbs

Over a third of those facilities have fully closed, meaning patients also lost "access to contraceptive care, STI testing and treatment, and pregnancy care," said a Guttmacher Institute researcher.

Jessica Corbett ·


Fury Over Privatized Grid Grows as Tens of Thousands Still Without Power in Puerto Rico

Until the U.S. island's colonial status "is rectified," wrote one observer, "it's a safe bet that Puerto Rico will never fully recover."

Kenny Stancil ·


US Jobless Claims Jump as Fed Shoves Economy to 'Precipice of Global Recession'

One expert called on Powell "to think twice before plunging our economy into a wholly avoidable recession and completely undoing one of the strongest job recoveries on record."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo