Sarah Grace Goolden
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, donated $33 million in college scholarships to TheDream.Us, a non-profit organization focused on children protected from deportation under the DACA program. However, Bezos, along with billionaires just like him, have been under fire for their mistreatment of employees while enjoying their massive tax breaks.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017, allowed minors who entered the country illegally to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation.
The rights for underage immigrants is something that changed Bezos life personally, which explains his generous donation. Miguel Bezos, Jeff Bezos’ father, came to America as a part of Operation Pedro Pan when he was only 16 years old.
Clearly, immigration is an important issue to the CEO since it has affected himself and his family. However, Bezos has been put on blast for allowing hundreds of Amazon employees to rely on food stamps while his company prospers.
Jeff Bezos and his wife, Mackenzie Bezos, contributed the largest grant the TheDream.Us has ever had, funding scholarships for 1,000 college-bound individuals.
Clearly, Amazon is not suffering if the Bezos’s have the funds to contribute as much as they did. If that is true, then why are Amazon employees struggling? The fact is, helping children go to college makes rich guys like Bezos look really good. It doesn’t hurt that billionaires reap the benefit of extreme tax cuts, especially with huge donations.
Can someone who created a future for 1,000 children draw the line at generosity for the people who contributed to his wealth? Does this act of denying his own workers their deserved income and benefits invalidate his previous acts of philanthropy?
Bezos’s donations are an amazing use of resources that will change the lives of so many individuals and that influence should never be taken for granted. However his lack of compassion towards his very own employees is something that needs to be addressed.
A company is nothing without workers. To benefit from the efforts of employees but not reward them when the company prospers is to say that those people are just cogs in a machine, not human beings. People tend to work harder when they feel rewarded and appreciated.
In 2017, Bezos became the richest person in the world with a shocking net worth of $100 billion. The CEO has a history of donating to charities but also mistreating his workers financially at Amazon. This pattern raised the suspicion of Bezos using huge contributions as a way to make himself look good.
Two years ago, the company cut retirement benefits for over 300,000 employees. Along with this, Bezos discussed that he wanted to slash severance pay. This creates a division between those in charge and their employees in a way that undermines the work of those underneath him.
Another problem regarding Jeff Bezos and other billionaires is that, while they are donating large sums of money, many are actually cracking into a fraction of their income. In fact, according to Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, those with lower wages donate almost 30 percent more of their income.
This is not to say that all wealthy people are evil creatures that hoard and sit on their money. Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, donates a huge cut from his massive fortune to various charities and organization. Buffet has given away 71 percent of his $65.5 billion fortune, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Should those with an excessive amount of money feel more societal pressure to change the world? First, companies should take care of their own. While Bezos and other billionaires enjoy the fruit of their success, they are turning a blind eye towards their own struggling employees.
There is no law requiring those with resources to lend a helping hand to those without. Tax breaks are a great incentive to urge the rich to donate. However, this sometimes morphs into throwing money at a cause to enjoy the benefits. Thousands of employees continue to struggle while Bezos is praised for his generosity.
This act gives the impression that people working under his company are dispensable. Those in charge are responsible for their employees. Simply, without them there would be no business. No matter if it is a janitor or a CEO, every component of an organization depends on each other. To disrespect one part is to threaten the whole system.