What is Jeff Bezoss policy

The fact that there are people who are rich, even filthy rich, is still not a flaw for many US citizens, despite all the social contrasts in the country, but rather a cause for admiration. Anyone who accumulates wealth proves that the American dream is alive, that if you work hard enough, you can still make it to the top. Jeff Bezos is the perfect embodiment of this dream: the founder of the online retailer Amazon grew up in a rather simple family, today he is considered the richest man in the world with an estimated fortune equivalent to 110 billion euros.

The only "consideration" Americans expect from their wealthy is that they give some of their money to charity. This is how the "Giving Pledge" came about, the initiative by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the ultra-rich to donate large parts of their wealth. The fact that Bezos, of all people, the richest of the rich, refused for a long time earned him a lot of criticism.

The 55-year-old has been donating for a year - and is now facing the next controversy. In contrast to almost all millionaire colleagues, his Day One Families Fund does not tender funds for which aid organizations can apply and which are subject to a long review process before they are released. Rather, Bezos and his colleagues seek out groups that are convenient for them in advance and then surprise them with an offer to send them four or five million dollars. The focus is primarily on associations that fight homelessness, and kindergartens are also promoted.

The beneficiaries often cannot believe their luck, as research by the news portal Recode has shown. This is all the more true as Bezos usually forego all formalities: If you want to accept the money, you only have to write a short explanation of what it is used for and whether it should be paid out in cash or in the form of Amazon shares. Exact guidelines on what should happen with the donation are missing, as is the usual obligation to report quarterly on the hoped-for progress.

The reactions now range from horror to enthusiasm: On the one hand, Bezo's shirt-sleeved approach naturally harbors the risk that the money will not reach those actually in need, that those responsible will build up huge administrative systems or even enrich themselves personally. Also, the clubs often do not know whether a check will ever come again after the first transfer. On the other hand, the aid groups can deploy Bezos' millions where they are really needed. No billionaire in distant New York or Los Angeles imposes conditions on them that bypass the needs on site.

One important problem, however, cannot be solved even with Bezos' laissez-faire approach: the increasing privatization of development policy. Of course, when rich people donate some of their wealth, no one will complain. But if that leads to government agencies pulling out and the financing of important projects to depend on whether they are hobbyhorses of a millionaire, it becomes difficult. The question then arises as to whether it would not be better if high wealth were taxed more heavily and tax revenues were used for a more holistic development aid approach.

The fact that the Amazon boss finances homeless groups, of all things, could have something to do with PR considerations instead of social considerations: not least because the employees of his company have driven up rental prices at the company's headquarters in Seattle, live in the west coast metropolis especially many people on the street. The city administration's attempt to introduce a tax to combat homelessness failed after threats from Amazon.