Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said the quiet part loud on Tuesday after flying to space in his own rocket:

“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

He was right. Subjecting warehouse workers and delivery drivers to grueling conditions—even all but forcing them to pee in bottles instead of take bathroom breaks—has made Bezos the world’s richest person.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) added in a tweet: “Amazon customers are paying for it with Amazon abusing their market power to hurt small businesses.”

This is why we need a much, much fairer tax system.

One that doesn’t allow corporations like Amazon to get away with paying less in taxes than teachers, nurses, and even Amazon workers themselves. Bezos himself paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011.

One that doesn’t force more taxes, fees, tickets, and fines on to poor and working people so that the Jeff Bezos’s of the world can afford more yachts (or their own rockets).

One that doesn’t shell out massive subsidies to corporations like Amazon, while our communities get little in return. Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, has received more than $72 million in state and local subsidies.

If it was fairer, our government could afford to make people’s lives better here, you know, on Earth. By doing things like Raleigh, North Carolina, just did when it extended free public bus fares through the rest of the year. And like Washington, D.C., just did when it raised taxes on the rich to fund housing vouchers, subsidies for day-care workers’ wages, and monthly tax credits for low-income families.

Congratulations, Jeff. You did the same thing NASA did back in 1961 when it sent the first American to space. Now, pay your taxes.

Photo by NASA Flight Opportunities.

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