The gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has never been more pronounced when comparing the reality of most households to that of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
A study recently published by the United Way’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) project found that 51 million American households can’t afford a monthly budget that includes all basic necessities like rent, food, healthcare, transportation, child care, and a cell phone. This figure is roughly 43 percent of the U.S. population.
As CNNMoney reported, many of these workers are in low-wage professions that make up the 66 percent of jobs in the U.S. that pay less than $20/hour. This includes clerical workers, home health providers, cashiers, and child care workers. However, this is nothing new for millions of Americans — in 2017, a survey by Country Financial found that nearly a full third of Americans never recovered from the Great Recession that began a decade ago. And as Grit Post previously reported, workers’ share of corporate profits never bounced back from recession levels despite corporate profits hitting multiple record highs in consecutive years.
The struggle faced by millions of everyday Americans to stay afloat seems even more unnecessary when taking into account the vast sums of wealth accumulated by billionaires like Amazon’s CEO. As The Washingtonian reported earlier this year, a new 27,000 square-foot Washington, DC mansion Bezos purchased for $23 million in cash has 11 bedrooms and 25 bathrooms. This is in addition to the homes Bezos already owns in Washington state, Texas, the lavish Beverly Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, and three condos in New York City’s exclusive Central Park West neighborhood in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The plans for Jeff Bezos’s DC renovation include:
• 11 bedrooms
• 25 bathrooms
• 5 living rooms
• 2 elevators
• An extremely fabulous solarium.https://t.co/RF81zZzVYM
— Washingtonian (@washingtonian) April 23, 2018
Bezos, with a net worth of more than $130 billion, already has enough wealth to his name to singlehandedly end homelessness in the United States and pay for the full treatment of every breast cancer and lung cancer patient in the country, while still being a billionaire many times over. However, the Amazon billionaire has stated that rather than use his immense wealth to improve the lives of his underpaid and exploited workers or alleviate poverty in the U.S., he wants to blast his billions into space travel.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.