Jeff Bezos is currently in a neck-and-neck race with Elon Musk as the richest man in America. Their individual net worths are more than $180 billion … oh … make that $181 … uh $182 billion … Oh, never mind. By the time you finish reading this commentary, Bezos and Musk may be worth more than $190 billion dollars.
The two guys could not be more different, however. Musk is all business. He is devoted to doing the seemingly impossible with his money in terms of futuristic technology. He is the poster child of American free-market capitalism and innovation.
Bezos has made his fortune in free-market capitalism, to be sure. But he has that gene that needs to rule the world. Bezos is more of an oligarch. He might even be fairly described as an oligarch’s oligarch. The designation does not get applied for merely being rich as sh*t, but on how he uses his money.
With such great wealth comes enormous power. Usually, when a person reaches such levels of astronomical wealth, the acceleration of that wealth slows down. Not for Bezos. He is accumulating wealth – and power — faster than most of the members of the Billionaires Club.
What if a person with such wealth and power succumbs to political megalomania? What if they see their interest and the interests of a powerful authoritarian government as one and the same? What if they use their power to forge a symbiotic relationship with that powerful government?
In Russia – and a few other nations in eastern Europe – such a person would be known as an oligarch. A little more than a century ago in America, we referred to them as “robber barons.” Today, they are the giants of technology – and Bezos is a giant even among other would-be oligarchs, such as Jack Dorsey at Twitter, and Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and Sundar Pichai at Google.
A common characteristic of oligarchs is that they are personally identified with their enormous enterprises. Bill Gates IS Microsoft. Zuckerberg IS Facebook and Bezos IS Amazon.
Oligarchs use their companies to advance their lust for political power. Their employment rolls are filled with folks who reflect their left-wing politics. They can contribute unimaged sums of money to their favored politicians and left-wing organizations.
A true oligarch not only wants to influence what we the people are allowed to know through the news media, they also want to direct it. We should not forget that MS in MSNBC refers to Microsoft. Oligarch Michael Bloomberg owns Bloomberg news and fellow oligarch Ted Turner launched CNN. Or that one half of the leading left-wing print media in America is the Washington Post – owned by … wanna guess? … yep, Jeff Bezos.
If you do not follow the news closely, the other half is the New York Times. Staffers from both publications appear on CNN and MSNBC so regularly that they could almost be declared their own broadcast networks.
The sign of an oligarch is how they use their corporations to help their political friends. Money, of course. But other help is far more sinister. Bezos is a major data collector – data that has been alleged to have been made available disproportionately to those on the left. His Post newspaper maintains a virtually exclusive slant in support of leftwing candidates and causes – and at the same time censors voices on the conservative right.
Bezos is a major investor in Twitter, the social media platform that has routinely canceled the accounts of conservative voices – including the President of the United States.
As a specific example of biased activities, Bezos offered President Biden the services of Amazon as a major resource in the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. He has the distribution infrastructure to be extremely helpful. Bezos made his offer one day after Biden was inaugurated President. He made no such offer of assistance as the distribution of the vaccine was commencing in the final weeks of the Trump administration.
The most dominant characteristic of oligarchs is the intertwining of profits and public policy. They exist on the cusp between the business and political realms – often holding high-level appointed positions or even public office. They are authoritarians in business and in politics – borne out of an arrogant sense of superiority. They use their great wealth and their autocratic businesses to influence the political world – and then use their paid-for influence to benefit policies relating to their massive enterprises and unbridled ambitions. They are the prime examples that power corrupts.
There is no real need to debate their existence or the influence. We just need to figure out what to do about them – as we did with their types in the past.
So, there ‘tis.