Why all the hate for Branson and Bezos, and their forays into space travel?

That people keep repeating this myth is evidence only of Musk’s abilities at self-promotion and the gullibility of the media to repeat a claim that sounds good without verification. Musk did not found either Paypal (nor did he found Tesla, but that is a separate issue). Paypal was formed by a merger of Confinity, which was a company which originally based on the PalmPilot platform for encrypted payments, with X.com, a company founded by Musk that was originally an online bank. After a restructuring (in which Musk was forced out because of his abrasiveness with other board members and resistance to many of the business strategies which made PayPal successful) the company reorganized as what is now known as PayPal and developed the essential tools for its implementation as an online payment system that used nothing that Musk worked on or that came from X.com.

Musk was a Series A funder of Tesla (well over a year after the company had been founded and was well into development on their first vehicle) and later litigated his way into being listed as a “founder” as well as dismissing the actual founders Mark Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard and driving the company toward various questionable business measures including extensive automation and trying to force OEM suppliers to offer Tesla steep discounts (both of which he had to walk back) as well as the 2016 acquisition of the failing SolarCity that is currently being litigated by Tesla stockholders. As far as SpaceX, it has indeed been successful and to listen to Musk it is all about his personal genius and innovation, even though the core propulsion technology has a direct heritage to the TRW Low Cost Pintle Engine (which didn’t stop Elon from trying to sue Northrop Grumman from ‘stealing’ SpaceX intellectual property), and every single time Musk opens his mouth and tries to talk about technical details it is evident to anyone knowledgeable about propulsion and space launch vehicles that he is imperfectly parroting phrases he has heard someone else use, often wildly out of context.

Musk has sold himself as a poor-boy-done-good and a victim of the forces of industry trying to push him and his companies down, but in fact he came from very comfortable wealth, enjoyed monetary support from both parents, has received enormous subsidies and tax credits from federal and state governments, and himself is the plaintiff in numerous SLAPP suits and whistleblower suppression in addition to his Twitter-raging and attempts at stock market manipulation. He’s a self-promotional narcissist who has demonstrated no concern for his employees safety or well-being, and despite the pretense that he’s doing this all for the sake of humanity he lives and spends quite lavishly upon himself, again while paying a lower portion of his income in taxes than one of his hourly assembly-line workers at Tesla.

Bezos, of course, has paid no taxes for many years, and Branson is well-known for shifting his wealth between tax havens to avoid paying any significant amount. It may be true that the combined wealth of these three billionaires would not abate the financial problems, but the reality is that they spend more money than most people make in their lifetimes on accountants and lawyers avoiding contributing anything at all while enjoying the fruits of public investment in research that led to the innovations they so publicly enjoy. I guess good on them for figuring out how to game the system (if that is your view of how things should work) but I personally don’t think getting wealthy by paying workers the minimum possible while pushing for ever-greater efficiencies while sucking at the public teat whenever money is to be had is something to be celebrated.


Which is why I said that he helped solve the payment problem, not that he founded Paypal. You should respond to what I actually wrote.

I also did not claim that he founded Tesla. Or any of the other stuff you responded to.

That was my comment to my wife when she said the same thing. I said, OK, get rid of your Amazon Prime account and your streaming, if you feel so strongly about it.

There’s no real precedent for space cowboy hat. Maybe it’s supposed to be 1 size too large to allow for swelled heads.

But not being from space I think he looks like a conventional ground-based dingus.

That is true.

Yeah, I remember when Alan Greenspan made a $1 million donation to some company that would provide free Viagra, when that drug was newly on the market, and I’m not the only person who has always said that he could have done more for impotence by donating it to a place that provides free screenings for things like prostate cancer or diabetes.

I don’t know that anyone thinks replacing cost plus contracts with fixed price automatically means lower costs. Really these are symptoms of the underlying problem: NASA overspecifying requirements.

We can see the difference in Commercial Crew vs. previous/other crewed vehicles. Commercial Crew lowered costs by only specifying high level requirements, like number of crew members and amount of up-mass. This meant companies could innovate on the vehicle design, and furthermore share those costs with commercial services. Companies could also innovate on how they structured their development process.

And before you accuse me of drinking the Musk kool-aid as you always seem to, I’m just relaying what the FAA says here.

Unlike the Space Shuttle which NASA owned, NASA does not own the commercial vehicles. This key difference gives industry the opportunity to use their design to not only meet NASA’s needs but also commercial needs. This has the potential to reduce NASA costs and enable a company to expand into
new markets. To further reduce costs and encourage industry innovation, NASA gave the commercial
partners decision-making freedom. NASA did this by removing some prescriptive requirements and
replacing them with high-level performance requirements and allowing industry to decide how best to meet them.

The program hasn’t gone perfectly, of course; nothing in aerospace is ever perfectly smooth. But compared to other crewed programs it’s gone very well indeed. NASA has one reliable crew launch service and soon to be two.

Yeah, who could have guessed that in the absence of competition or really any incentives whatsoever, ULA wouldn’t cut their prices out of the goodness of their hearts.

There is a paper called On the Folly of Rewarding A, While Hoping for B, which is one of those things that while containing many interesting examples, you can pretty much glean the key insight from the title. Incentives matter. If your acquisition process does not reward low prices, then you will not get low prices, completely independent of any “should be able to” studies.

Musk was a millionaire when he founded SpaceX. Even if Tesla disappeared tomorrow, he’d be worth about $35B from his share of SpaceX alone.

You and Sam arguing over whether Elon Musk founded Tesla or whether he’s a nice guy or whatever - you seem to be strenuously arguing against points about Musk no one has made here - is irrelevant. In no way does it answer the question as to why people seem to get angry about these space things.

WHY people get angry about these space things is very straightforward; because people fucking hate it when insanely rich people are obnoxious about being rich and flash their wealth, and that is currently made all the worse by the perception that the rich are getting richer than ever while poor people are left behind. That’s what it is. It makes no difference at all if Elon Musk was a “founder” of Tesla or not; 99.8% of people neither know nor care, and their not caring is a rational position to take. Amazon’s good? Bad? Whatever, but it SEEMS WRONG that a man can have $200 billion while hundreds of thousands of his fellow Americans go bankrupt every year to pay their medical bills. People would feel this way no matter how evil or noble Jeff Bezos or Amazon were.

Kinda. If many = two.
How Billionaires Like Jeff Bezos Avoid Paying Federal Income Tax.

In 2007, and again in 2011, billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly paid nothing in federal income taxes.

This is because the income tax is just that- a income tax, not a wealth tax.

The majority of Bezos’ net worth — $170 billion — is tied to Amazon stock, which fluctuates regularly and has even left the billionaire jockeying for the world’s wealthiest title with Tesla CEO Elon Musk at times. At least $19 billion of Bezos’ wealth is not tied to his stake in Amazon.

Bezos can skip paying taxes on his accumulated wealth from the Amazon stock because stock gains aren’t taxed until they are realized by selling off the stock: Since those stocks represent value, but cannot be used as tender, they aren’t counted as “income” — even if they appreciate in value tremendously, like those of Amazon and Tesla.

But he has paid taxes:

As a result, though Bezos’ net worth increased by a reported $127 billion between 2006 and 2018, he only reported an income of $6.5 billion for those 12 years, according to ProPublica, resulting in a tax bill of around $1.4 billion.

So, do we want people taxed on unappreciated gains in their holdings? Stocks, real estate, art?

My house has nearly doubled in value since I bought it, do I have to pay taxes on that?- Which of course I can’t afford, so I would have to sell my house… etc etc.

But he doesn’t have that much money in a Scrooge McDuck money vault. It exists mostly in unrealized capital gains. It is invested.

Honest question: how does someone like that pay for housing (presumably, he purchased a house(s) at some point), food, travel? Does he have any cash in his wallet? How’d he pay for the space joy-ride? He must have sold-off some stock, which would put him on the radar of the tax-man, right?

Yes, and he paid 1.4 billion in taxes for the money he took out of Amazon for himself.

And let’s be clear: NO ONE pays tax on unrealized gains, because that would be stupid. How would you like it if your stocks went up 50%, and you had to pay tax on the gains, then they fell back to normal again before you sold them? You would have been taxed for nothing, and your break-even stocks would now be huge losers.

If we taxed the wealth of billionaires, they would be forced to sell stock in their companies to pay it, causing them to potentially lose control of their own companies. Under a tax regime like that, investment, especially in risky ventures, would plummet to the detriment of us all.

Or, we could accept that billionaires exist, it’s a good thing they exist, and stop living lives defined by jealousy and resentment.

He doesn’t necessarily have to sell off stock. The ultra-wealthy have no shortage of tools at their disposal to weasel around regulations meant for chumps like us. Check out this post, and if you really want, that whole thread as well — it’s a great discussion of this subject matter.

Some scathing commentary:

One very small step for mankind, one giant ego trip for Jeff Bezos.

Compare and contrast with his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott, who intends to give away a $38bn divorce settlement she says was “enabled by systems that need to change”, and has already dispensed $8.5bn to causes including food banks, Black colleges and female-led charities. Every Amazon employee and customer paid for that too, but perhaps a bit less grudgingly.

I hate them because I’m jealous.

Goddamn, this is funny!

If Congress passed a 100% Wealth tax there is good chance that would cause a huge devaluation in the stock market and they would not be able to collect the billions of dollars people think they would.

We all understand that. Does it really matter to people the system is failing if only some of his obscene wealth is spendable in the short term?

If he’s not spending it personally, why does it matter if he has lots of stock in Amazon? Wouldn’t you want to have the guy who built the company to still have skin in the game to make sure it runs well?

And if he takes the money out for his own personal use, he pays taxes like everyone else. To the tune of 1.4 billion dollars.

I could understand people’s feelings if they thought that somehow he was stealing from them to make himself rich. But he didn’t. He got rich by providing value to billions of people, making their lives better. If you could wave a magic wand and make it so that Bezos had never started Amazon, do you think the poor would be better off? Would those warehouse workers magically have better jobs?

So what we come down to is plain old envy and resentment. It’s just not fair that some people are so rich! But we still want all the stuff they created that made them rich.

Anyone who hates Bezos so much should cancel their Amazon Prime, stop buying from Amazon, and buy local. Then it doesn’t matter in your life what he does at all.

This is not a negative for me.

What we come down to is a horrific societal failure. Wealth disparities of this magnitude lead to revolution and the collapse of governments. This is not sustainable. The problem is not really that we’ve got cosplaying billionaires. The problem is that we have billionaires at all.

Again, not the point. You’re arguing with reality. The reality is people are reacting angrily because they are seeing obscenely rich people being incredibly, conspicuously, showy in flaunting their wealth. That’s just a fact.

I haven’t said a thing about whether Amazon needs him to have skin in the game. That has nothing to do with it.

I, for one, would like to congratulate both men for demonstrably showing that 2021 capitalism is able to do what socialism did for Alan Shephard back in 1961 - send someone into suborbital space.

Go capitalism! For the win!

Seriously, though. Fuck those fuckers.

They spent money rather than sitting on it. Good for them. I wouldn’t mind billionaires nearly so much if they spent their money. It’s dynastic wealth I’m opposed to.