Tens of thousands sign petition urging Jeff Bezos to stay in space

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The petition borrows the phrase 'Billionaires should not exist,' which has been used by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

On July 20, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will cross the final frontier with an 11-minute rocket trip into space. Tens of thousands of petitioners are asking that he stay there.

Bezos will travel to space with his brother Mark and another private citizen who bid $28 million in an auction conducted by Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Bezos in 2000 that is sending the New Shepard spacecraft on its suborbital flight, for the ticket.

A petition launched on the platform change.org, titled "Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth," has received more than 47,000 signatures supporting the statement "Billionaire's [sic] should not exist...on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there."

The petition borrows the phrase "Billionaires should not exist," which has notably been used by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Criticism of Bezos, who announced in February he would step down as CEO of the multinational tech empire he founded in 1994, has skyrocketed in recent years. Critics say Bezos, the richest man on earth with a net worth of more than $200 billion, made his fortune on the backs of exploited workers and built a monopoly that chokes out smaller companies.

A ProPublica investigation revealed this month that Bezos and his billionaire peers have gotten away with paying little or nothing in federal income taxes.

In 2007, Bezos paid nothing. Four years later, he managed the same, and because his tax return reported investment losses, he was even able to receive a $4,000 tax credit for his children, ProPublica reported.

Amazon did not respond to a request from The American Independent Foundation for comment.

The report prompted outcry from lawmakers.

"Our tax code is littered with loopholes," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote on Twitter. "They're so big that Jeff Bezos could drive an Amazon truck or fly a rocket ship through them. Let's raise opportunity for everyone in America by making billionaires and giant corporations pay their fair share."

"You probably pay a higher income tax rate than Buffett, Bezos, or Bloomberg: some of the wealthiest billionaires in the country," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted. "I've said it once and I'll say it again — we must tax the rich."

Sanders slammed the trip, tweeting on June 16 in response to the amount bid by the anonymous third passenger, "That's $28 million MORE than Jeff Bezos paid in income taxes in 2007 and 2011. Yes, it is time for billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes."

Bezos has become the frequent subject of online petitions. Recent campaigns have called for him to give Whole Foods employees more paid time off during the pandemic and to fund global environmental recovery.

Others veer toward the absurd.

If Bezos does return from space, it will at least offer him the opportunity to make good on another demand, which has more than 11,000 signatures as of this week: "We want Jeff Bezos to buy and eat the Mona Lisa."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.