The launching of Blue Orgin’s New Shepard rocket Dec. 11 in Texas. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

The launching of Blue Orgin’s New Shepard rocket Dec. 11 in Texas. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

LETTER: Imagine what good billionaires could do

And no, we’re not talking about space travel, we’re talking about solving social issues

To the Editor,

I was lucky enough to catch a recent television interview of renowned American astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was asked his opinion of billionaires’ spaceships, specifically the Blue Origin owned by Jeff Bezos. Bezos has a reported wealth of well over US$ 200-billion.

Tyson, usually a very witty, jovial and crowd-pleasing interviewee, was rather dismissive of the space exploits; saying that although it had reportedly cost about US$6-billion it actually achieved very little in flying to an altitude of about 60 miles in a suborbital jaunt, only reaching the edge of space for a couple minutes of weightlessness. Tyson told the talk-show host that if he could imagine the world globe from his school days, then Mr. Bezos would have left the Earth’s atmosphere by the thickness of two dimes placed on that classroom globe.

Bezos’ title of “World’s Richest Man” made me think of previous owners of that title like Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, and The Giving Pledge they created about a dozen years ago. They persuaded several fabulously rich people to give a percentage of their wealth to help the less-fortunate, and some advances were made in health care and other necessities of life in desperately poor regions of the world.

There are presently over 2,000 billionaires world-wide, but less than 10 percent of them contribute to The Giving Pledge. Most seem content being in front-page headlines.

In the concrete canyons of almost every city around the world, glass towers that house corporate offices of wealthy companies are juxtaposed with tent cities where the homeless dwell in demeaning conditions. Just imagine if the likes of Mr. Bezos and fellow fat-cats were to set up funds to tackle this burgeoning problem. Imagine the US$6-billion spent on the phoney space oddity being put towards a huge fund to create treatment centres to house the homeless, and imagine such largesse spurring even the less wealthy to donate. In John Lennon’s words, Imagine.

Bernie Smith,

Parksville, B.C.

Aviation and space