Jeffrey Bezos : God-Emperor of Earth
A week ago, Jeffrey Bezos went to space. You of course know about this, because his few minutes off Earth got as much coverage in a day as climate change got all last year. Who knew irony was penis-shaped?
It’s been a busy year for the multi-billionaire : through 2020/2021, Bezos (and/or his minions) paid no taxes, busted unions, failed to comply to basic health guidelines, illegally fired workers, forced employees to live in squalor, killed hundreds of small businesses… But, hey, at least Jeffrey acknowledged that we are all paying for his midlife crisis.
The fact that we let a private citizen do this says a lot about the length we’re willing to go to keep the uber-rich happy, regardless of the overall net negative they may bring to society. The impunity is staggering. At this rate, we’ll let Jeffrey become the de facto God-Emperor of earth within the decade. Money, armies, propaganda, spies… after all, he’s already got everything he needs to do it.
Jeffrey controls an economy larger than most countries
To become an all-powerful leader, you need money to buy weapons, soldiers and political favours. And Jeffrey has plenty, thanks to Amazon. $210B, to be exact. To put that into perspective, that’s enough to purchase 20,000 tanks, or to match the UK, India and Russia’s combined defence budget for 2020.
But Jeffrey has more than just his own personal wealth: he also controls one of the world’s largest company (though he is not its CEO anymore). And all metrics point to Amazon being one of the world’s super-power, worthy of being part of the G20. Its yearly revenue of over $386B puts it on par with Denmark, the 35th richest country in the world. This may not seem impressive until you realise that the company actually makes 300,000$ per employee, which is much higher than the richest countries in the world make per capita.
Sure, a lot of that money is tied up in the company, and is therefore illiquid. But Amazon does have $84B in cash at this very moment, for only $34B in debt. That’s a debt to revenue ratio of 9%, which would make it one of the healthiest countries in the world, financially speaking (for reference, the US has a debt amounting to 102% of its GDP).
When all is said and done, if Jeffrey wants to fund an army to take control of part of the world, he can.
Jeffrey employs as many people as the world’s largest armies
Obviously, it’d be hard to create an army from scratch. Thankfully, Jeffrey wouldn’t have to. Having recruited 427,300 employees between January and October of 2020, his company now has a 1.2 million-strong workforce. That’s enough to match the size of the 5th largest military in the world in terms of manpower, ahead of Russia.
Beyond the grunts, Jeffrey could also use Amazon’s 175 fulfilment centers, totalling 150 million square feet of space, as bases of operations. Furthermore, Amazon already operates in most of the world, so no operational beachheads would have to be won by force.
With 85 aircrafts, Amazon Air has a fleet that’s roughly the size of the Portuguese air force. We’re unsure of how many drones the company has at its disposal, but it’s safe to assume that they number in the tens of thousands given their delivery ambitions. Amazon’s overwhelming AI and robotic superiority would make it easy to transform these drones into killing machine, thus handing Jeffrey control of the air.
Finally, we now know that Jeffrey has the power to go to space, giving him the ability to take out key satellites, if needed. Only 20% of the world’s nation have gone to space, so that ought to give him quite the advantage over many potential adversaries.
Jeffrey owns the government’s technological infrastructure
Obviously, presidents and prime ministers alike wouldn’t let their nations be over-run without a fight. The problem, however, is that Amazon has already sunk its nails deep inside the world’s governments. Not deep enough to control them, but to an extent that Jeffrey would be able to inflict a significant amount of logistical and operational damage before any shots had to be fired.
In the US, Amazon has spent the past decade carefully working its way toward the heart of Washington, and today is on the brink of becoming one of America’s largest defence contractors. In 2013, AWS became the CIA’s cloud computing supplier; it also sells web services to Palantir, the data analytics company that works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Finally, it’s currently vying to control a substantial portion of the federal government's future off-site data centers, IT systems and web-based applications through the infamous JEDI contract.
Elsewhere in the world, Amazon has won : 66 infrastructure contracts in the UK in the past year alone (including within its national health service), a $273 million cloud contract with the Japanese government, a $39 million cloud contract with the Australian government… all in all, over 6,500 government agencies use Amazon technologies today. That’s enough to throw the world into chaos at the flip of a switch, regardless of military might.
That’s unlikely to change anytime soon, too. Since 2018, Amazon Web Services has hired at least 66 former US government officials with acquisition, procurement or technology adoption experience, more than half of them from the US Defence Department. Additionally, Amazon has spent $5 million on lobbying in 2021 (so far). At this rate, Jeffrey might get the world’s throne without having to fire a single shot.
Jeffrey controls the media
Of course, any serious coup requires the public’s support. We’d otherwise take to the streets. And God-Emperor Jeffrey has thought about this! That’s why (I guess) he’s spent the better part of the last decade building a media empire with the capability to brainwash us into thinking that we’d be better off with him in charge. Indeed, the key sign of a good empire is an efficient propaganda apparatus.
Jeffrey owns the Washington post, and can thus control the opinion of its millions of readers with headlines such as “It’s easy to hate billionaires. But they can fill voids”. He can also undermine trust in the current government and picture himself as a messiah by publishing things like “Congress can’t agree on big things. Let billionaires handle space”.
But let’s be honest : no one reads newspapers anymore. The battle for public opinion will be fought and won in the entertainment space. And what do you know, Amazon controls that too. It can pay streamers on Twitch to say positive things about the God-Emperor. It can promote books favourable to the regime on Audible, Goodreads and Kindles, and bury dissenting opinions. It can create propaganda music specifically for Amazon Prime Music, and produce films to rival 1956 Soviet Russia thanks to Amazon Studio. By making them free on Prime Video, Jeffrey would be sure to put them in front of enough eyeballs to pacify the population. And if that’s not enough, he can still sink the ratings of the movies he doesn’t like on IMDb.
Yes. Amazon owns all these companies. That’s a lot of media firepower in just a few hands.
Jeffrey has spies everywhere
Beyond an army and propaganda, what’s another staple of totalitarian governments the world over ? If you guessed spying on ordinary citizens, you’d be right.
About 18 million US households own Alexa smart speakers, and that number is fast growing throughout the world. Ever since its introduction in 2014, Amazon’s Alexa has grown its global footprint, quickly expanding from Amazon’s own hardware to what are now tens of thousands supported devices from various manufacturers. Since Alexa never stops listening to you, this makes it the perfect spying device, already implemented in millions of homes. Jeffrey would be able to know who is plotting to overthrow him, and send drones to put a stop to the rebellion in a heart-beat.
But that’s not all. Amazon’s Ring, the home doorbell and surveillance company, has about 2,000 partnerships with law enforcement entities. In fact, local law enforcement asked for Ring videos for a total of more than 22,335 incidents in 2020. Once Amazon takes control of the world’s police, it will have no problem having a visual on everyone, as well as audio files provided by Alexa. Ring also owns social network Neighbors, which is the perfect platform to rat out rebellious friends and family members in exchange for sweet Prime goodies.
Furthermore, Amazon has honed its cloud-based facial-recognition software, which can detect age, gender, and certain emotions as well as identifying faces, by providing it to police forces for years. So they know that the concept works well, should they ever need to deploy it massively to keep us in check.
Finally, the company is experimenting with the perfect tool for an autocratic state : biometric technology, which it is implementing in some of its Amazon Go physical convenience stores in Seattle. The name itself, “Amazon One”, is reminiscent of a dystopian novel.
Make no mistake : God-Emperor Jeffrey is watching you.
Jeffrey has more tools of repression than the average dictator
If a revolt does manage to take place despite Jeffrey’s army and its surveillance apparatus, retaliation would be swift and ruthless.
Amazon accounts for 50% of all US e-commerce sales. So expect to lose online shopping privileges if you misbehave. If you think that won’t hurt you, remember that the title of “everything store” has never been more true post COVID-19 pandemic. Now that more and more grocery shopping goes through Amazon too, one way or another, expect your family to go hungry if you spite the god-emperor.
Jeffrey has also gotten into healthcare with Amazon Care. It’s not widely used today, but if its use were to become more widespread under an Amazon empire, seeing a doctor might become difficult for those not inclined to sing Amazon’s praises.
Finally, financing one’s life might become difficult for those taking up arms against the empire; Amazon owns Amazon Pay, Prime Credit Card and Amazon Landing. It would be a shame if your money were to… disappear. So be a good citizen a snitch on your neighbours.
You guessed it : this article is satire. Or is it ? Honestly, I don’t know anymore. Sure, Amazon and Jeffrey are probably not evil, in the same way that an asteroid is not evil. Our future god-emperor and his Cerberus might eat the world, and never even realise it.
What I do know is that www.relentless.com still redirects to Amazon’s site. Maybe that should be a hint about how Jeff Bezos sees the future.