Why Won’t Jeff Bezos End World Hunger?
Last year I, along with roughly 104,000 other people all seemingly simultaneously discovered a new Twitter account that asked a very simple question: Has Jeff Bezos Decided to End World Hunger Today?
The premise of the account centers around 2 connected concepts: 1. according to the IFPRI (Internation Food Policy Research Institute), it would cost $11 Billion to end world hunger per year and 2. Jeff Bezos is currently worth $184 Billion (give or take a couple million on any given day based on how Amazon stock is doing).
In short: Jeff Bezos could end world hunger for the next 15 years and still be worth roughly $14 Billion, or if you prefer, still be the 76th richest person alive.
Arguments about the veracity of these claims or Bezos’ liquidity at any given point in time aside, it is a staggering quantification of the kind of change truly incomprehensible wealth could potentially be capable of.
The human mind has difficulty conceptualizing large numbers. Scientists and sociologists generally hold that the largest number a human brain can realistically comprehend in meaningful terms is around 100,000, with estimates ranging as low as a couple hundred, all the way up to perhaps one million. That leaves us woefully unequipped to deal with quantities in the billions, let alone hundreds of billions. So perhaps an analogy I saw recently making the rounds on social media will help:
If you made $5,000 a day, every single day (weekends, holidays included…) from the day Christopher Colombus sailed from Spain, up to today, you still wouldn’t be a Billionaire.
That is a bit of a brain melter. 5 grand a day, every day for 527 years and you’re still not a Billionaire. For comparison’s sake, you’d need to have made ~$956,564, every day for those 527 years to reach Jeff Bezos level wealth; close to a million dollars a day.
Discussing the ethical implications of Billionaires is a daunting prospect. It’s exceedingly difficult to fit ultra-wealth into any objective moral framework. Instead, we…