Common Dreams

When billionaire Jeff Bezos cut health benefits on September 13 for part-time workers at his grocery store Whole Foods the richest man in the world saved the equivalent of what he makes from his vast fortune in just a few hours.

That’s according to an analysis from Decision Data’s “Data in the News” series, which found that Bezos could cover the entirety of annual benefits for part-time employees who work less than 30 hours a week with what he makes from stocks and investments in just a fraction of a day.

“Doing a quick calculation with existing publicly available numbers shows that Bezos makes more money than the cost of an entire year of benefits for these 1,900 employees in somewhere between 2-6 hours,” the study says.

The analysis used an estimate that Whole Foods would contribute between $5,000 and $15,000 annually per employee for benefits. At the middle of that range, $10,000, that comes to $19 million a year.

Bezos makes just under $9 million an hour, according to a 2019 Business Insider analysis, which would mean he makes enough money in a little over two hours to cover the benefits he cut. Decision Data used an earlier study which found Bezos makes $4.5 million an hour to conclude he would need approximately four and a half hours to cover the cost.

“CEO worth more than $110 billion cuts health care for 2,000 workers after raking in $9 million an hour,” tweeted economist Robert Reich, citing the 2019 Business Insider figure.

The disconnect between Bezos’ wealth and the cost of the benefits was remarked on by a number of observers.

“Jeff Bezos makes $3,182 a second,” said Jacobin writer Luke Savage.

Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro called the move “shameful” and noted that Bezos’ crown jewel, online retailer Amazon, pays nothing in taxes.

“Amazon pays zero dollars in federal income taxes,” Castro tweeted. “Jeff Bezos is the richest man in modern history, and yet they continue to degrade the rights of their workers.”