Michael Tullberg/WireImage via Getty Images
It takes Amazon boss Jeff Bezos about 13 seconds to earn the median South African annual income. Frankly, I’m surprised it even takes him that long. I know this because I have been typing all sorts of numbers into a calculator built by Simpletexting, where you can find out how long it would take the top 15 tech CEOs in the world to earn your salary.
I’ve been playing this game obsessively. And it really does feel like a game in the sense that the numbers are almost beyond comprehension and all comparative reality. It’s like a crazy version of high stakes monopoly. What does it even mean when you read that, according to the 2019 calculations, the top 15 tech CEO’s in the US had a combined annual income of more than $83bn (R1.44-trillion).
It takes Mark Zuckerberg less than 90 minutes to earn what the average American male with a college degree will earn in his lifetime. More to the point, Zuck is a college dropout and his net worth is greater than the combined GDP of Jordan, Nicaragua and Jamaica.
Then there’s Bezos – in 2019 he earned $78,500,000,000.00 per year, $215,068,493.00 per day, $8,961,187.00 per hour, $149,353.12 per minute. This is not his total worth, mind you – just his declared annual base salary, annual cash bonuses, stock awards and earnings from equity. When I try to read these numbers out loud I sound like a certain former president. And I feel for the man. I really do. I mean what is a firepool but a drop in the ocean of potential cash rewards out there?
You know who I don’t feel for? Jeff Bezos, who this very year mid-Covid crisis really cashed in his chips on the poker table of life, while the rest of us sat at home in our jammies and ordered up a storm of stuff and content.
One global disaster later and the man, with his net worth of $144bn, is on track to become the world’s first trillionaire by 2026. I can’t even tell you how many zeros that would entail.
Suffice to say that at that point my annual salary would blow the algorithm of the Simpletexting calculator, just like it blows the algorithm when I type in the median annual salary of India – $1,670. It generously calculates that it would take one second of Jeff’s time – but I think that’s just fluff in the machinery. Jeff’s net worth right now is greater than the combined GDP of Iceland, Tunisia, Estonia and, of course, Jamaica.
Like I said, this is a game.
But what are the rules? When these tech billionaires make an appearance before the US congress to confess to their avaricious business practices off the back of our global collective data, they seem suitably befuddled by the questions of the naïve congress people. It’s like asking the moon why it looks like cheese.
The disembodied heads of the tech CEOs floating above those of the masked politicians in the Zoom call to end all Zoom calls was a chilling scene from the dystopian biopic of our lives. Who needs Netflix when you have the “fake” news?
Jeff himself can probably hardly believe that he’s now practically a latter-day emperor, with all the trappings of a new wife and the income disparity to prove it. Hence the need to tell the congress founding myths about his totally normal childhood, and his bumbling responses to the irritating buzzing on his congressional Zoom call interrupting his day job: tightening his autocratic grip on all the commerce and all the information in the world.
Bezos the Hun, coming your way with an army of elephants while we’re all still shaking our spears at him.
Here’s a number to play with – the energy used for one Google search is the same as it takes a low-energy lightbulb to burn for three minutes. It took me about five Google searches and one Netflix episode of Connected to get to that number. Put that in your income generator and screw with Greta Thunberg’s mind.
The rest of us are just in thrall to the money. Trying to imagine what life would be like living with such unparalleled riches – super yachts on which to self-isolate during the pandemic, or super bunkers in which to self-isolate during the apocalypse, or super rockets with which to colonise Mars when all the Google searches and the Facebook updates, the TikToks and Amazon deliveries finally extract the last, congested breath from this lowly planet.
Credit: by Columnist, Aspasia Karras