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Excess for Jeff Bezos, Not Enough for Students

We were speaking with Steven Woodside, executive director of Call of the Sea, when he commented on one of the great challenges facing all our terrific local community-outreach sailing programs — transportation. Soccer and softball are pretty easy sports to run out the back door of a school, but if you want to get kids some really eye-opening, life-enhancing, experiential outdoor learning opportunities, you have to get them away from the four walls of a classroom and the rectangular lines of a ball field.

Many organizations like Call of the Sea have so much to offer kids, but the challenge remains the cost of transportation to get kids from schools to the waterfront. It was here that our minds started to wander as we remembered the money Jeff Bezos had spent to send the 90-year-old TV sci-fi star William Shatner into space. Imagine how many kids could have a life-changing opportunity if they could go sailing!

Jeff Bezos and William Shatner
Space travel is cool and of great value when launching weather satellites and other useful scientific instruments, but does launching senior citizens into space make more sense than getting kids to the waterfront?
© 2021 Youtube

It’s not that Jeff Bezos isn’t also into sailing. His alleged new 127-meter/417-ft three-masted schooner, dubbed Y721, has just rolled out of the shed at Oceanco in the Netherlands. Its cost is estimated to be above 500 million dollars and it will become the world’s largest sailing yacht when launched in 2022. Whoopee.

Credit: Guy Fleury

It’s just hard to square the wretched excess of so much of the world’s resources being squandered for the jollies of one person for whom there is never such a thing as enough. At least on this planet.

While we do admire people who have worked hard to achieve stunning successes, we then have to watch what they do with their success. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The gap between the resources expended by technocrats and aging TV stars on themselves, versus the students who are the future, is just too large to ignore. Couldn’t some of this help kids grow with the lessons available from sailing?

12 Comments

  1. Ginger Clark 8 months ago

    Jeff Bezos is reaping the rewards of hard work. He deserves every penny he’s earned and so does Shatner. Resource aren’t just there for the picking. Resources are created. And a person has the right to spend what he earns on his creation without being sent on a guilt trip for doing so. Thank you Jeff Bezos! You’ve brought a lot of pleasure to my life.

    • iroll2b1 8 months ago

      Do you think, really think one could send him on a “guilt trip”?

  2. anneke dury 8 months ago

    Right on! You just expressed very clearly what I was thinking, watching this publicity stunt with Shatner…

  3. Mark Meltzer 8 months ago

    I think Jeff Bezos is missing something when he builds a boat so large.

    I grew up in commercial fishing — my father’s trade. The best times on the water were spent salmon trolling along the north coast in his 30 ft Monterey. You saw and felt the ocean up close working that boat. I’ve also fished herring on small gillnetters and tuna on an 85-foot boat between Midway Island and Japan.

    My dad loved sailing, but we never had enough money to own a sailboat. Our budget vacations were often spent at $1 per night campgrounds in SoCal with long early morning car trips in our old 49 Ford wagon to Balboa Island where my dad would rent small sailboats. My three brothers and I would take turns sailing with him on Lido 14s. It was wonderful. When I came time for college, my dad asked me if I’d seen any want ads for historians, political scientists or literature majors. He gently nudged me towards majoring in electrical engineering. I got a scholarship to UC Berkeley and subsequently rode the Silicon Valley tech wave to prosperity. Vacations now included deluxe cruises on Regent and Oceania ships. They were pleasant but had almost no passenger contact with the water. They were really just floating hotels almost completely isolated from the world beneath them.

    Bezos is entitled to build whatever he wishes but I think he is missing something when his sailboat is so massive. Huge interior spaces and staff members attending to your every need further discourages being outside, getting wet and getting the full experience. I’m not glorifying discomfort. There were times on a wildly pitching and rolling deck, wet, cold and miserable, when I’d have gladly swapped places with those on big actively stabilized luxury yachts. If I had Bezos’s wealth I’d just buy a sweet sailboat that could be handled by a couple and could anchor in the gorgeous dogholes along the Mendocino coast. Just my opinion and one that Bezos obviously does not share.

  4. Ed Hughes 8 months ago

    I’m in agreement on this. I’m all for capitalism, but my guess is that from a percentage aspect, both he and Amazon aren’t paying the same tax burden the rest of us do. If we could ever get to a flat tax, there’d be plenty of money for good use.

    • David Hume 8 months ago

      Flat tax, pay it when you spend it, it makes so much sense…..but imagine how many would be out of work!

  5. anthony hitchings 8 months ago

    It would have been better if Bezos’ yacht had been built in the USA.

  6. Daniel Irwin 8 months ago

    When I make my billions, I will be able to judge JB.

    Until then, I’m just going to enjoy free delivery and almost immediate access to nearly everything.

  7. John Sully 8 months ago

    Ole’ Jeff could save hundreds of millions and just buy Jim Clark’s old boat, Hyperion.

    https://www.edmiston.com/yacht-brokerage/yachts/hyperion

  8. Ants Uiga 8 months ago

    Recent donations to the Maritime High School includes $750,000 from the Bezos family foundation and $2 million from the McCaw family to the Northwest Maritime Center with 1/4 of the amount to the Maritime HS.

  9. Tony 7 months ago

    I can’t disagree with this indictment of Jeff Bezos, and with the ostentatious flaunting of his wealth, but I would urge the author of this story to first examine what kind of house he lives in, before he throws stones.

    I think it’s absurd and even criminal that local governments use TAXPAYER MONEY to pay Amazon, and other companies, to build factories in their towns. Where in “Wealth of Nations” did Adam Smith write that this is how the “Invisible Hand” should work? These same towns then use TAXPAYER MONEY to repair and replace the roads heavily used by Amazon trucks. And on top of that, Jeff Bezos and other high ranking captains pay little to no taxes on their extraordinary wealth that is made in part with TAXPAYER MONEY. And we all know that Amazon employees are pressured to push themselves to their physical limits to meet quotas. We’ve all heard that Amazon employees pee into bottles in order to stay as productive as possible.

    So any fair minded, free thinking critic would have to ask, is Latitude 38 an utopia for its employees? Is there a “wealth redistribution” program for your staff? I’ve read many stories about the author of this story, and Publisher/ Editor of Latitude 38s, new-to-them boat purchased a few years ago. Were the salaries, benefits, and perks of your employees taken into consideration before you bought that boat? What would your staff say about the working conditions at Latitude 38?

    Forgive me, I don’t mean to make accusations, but as a former small business owner, I know how hard it is to keep everyone happy. I preached about the evils of greed during the Savings and Loan scandal, but then turned some of my employees down when they asked for a raise. It was a gut check. It made me realize that I was standing in a glass house with a handfull of stones.

    • John Arndt 7 months ago

      “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

      There is much to debate here and balancing the competing forces of the world makes these difficult questions to answer. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but it’s also true that we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If people can’t speak up until they’re perfect or have created a utopia the world would be a pretty quiet place.

      In an era where many people seek to inflame rather than enlighten we appreciate the general civil and respectful tone from you and all Latitude 38 readers when offering commentary. We continuously wrestle with the points you raise as we know everyone at Latitude 38 works incredibly hard to bring you the magazine every month while we imperfectly strive to create the best possible workplace.

      Between Latitude 38 and Amazon there are a lot of companies with different answers to these same questions. It’s perfectly fair to ask the tough questions of any company though our primary goal was to help focus attention on the struggle many West Coast sailing non-profits and their hard-working volunteers have as they try to create growth opportunities for future generations. We’ll continue to examine our own lives and choices to do better as a company while we also continue to do what we can to support of youth sailing.

      Other views of Jeff Bezos’ yacht were collected from late-night TV by the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/12/arts/television/stephen-colbert-jeff-bezos-yacht.html) below:

      “The pandemic has been a boom time for billionaires, and they are using their profits to give back to hard-hit communities, as long as those communities build giant, shiny new yachts,” Colbert joked on Tuesday night.

      “Today, we learned that Bezos will soon receive delivery of a $500 million megayacht. Don’t know exactly when it will be delivered, but we do know it will come in a much bigger box.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

      “The yacht is 417 feet long. It’s so big, the Suez Canal would get stuck in it.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

      “The founder of Amazon is reportedly building a $500 million superyacht that is so big, it requires a ‘support yacht’ to travel with it. This is like the billionaire version of having a second fridge in your garage.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

      “It sounds like an old-time comedian’s routine, doesn’t it? Jeff Bezos is so rich, even his boats have got boats. Bezos is so rich, when he goes to the A.T.M., the A.T.M. asks him for money.” — JAMES CORDEN

      “Truth is, Bezos didn’t really need the support yacht, but Amazon did one of these upsells where they go, ‘People who buy this, also buy this.’” — JAMES CORDEN

      “You can tell which one is the support yacht because it has that little vest. That way, you can take the yacht on the plane with you.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

      “Here’s why Bezos needs it: The mommy yacht will be powered with the assistance of three giant masts, and those sails mean it will not support a helipad, so they need a separate ship with a dedicated landing facility. I mean, who hasn’t needed a separate yacht just for his helicopter?” — STEPHEN COLBERT

      “Bezos is truly is an everyman in that he has the combined wealth of every man. See you at the show trials, Jeff!” — STEPHEN COLBERT

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