Mostly, however, the anti-Bezos crowd doesn’t like him because he’s really rich, and they think no one should be really rich. If you think every billionaire is a “policy failure,” like some on the left do, then a trillionaire would be a thousand times worse of a failure.
But billionaires are OK, actually, and so would be trillionaires if they got to that lofty level the Bezos way: by cleverly applying massive technological investment to the historical playbook of American retailing and creating tremendous long-term value for customers, as well as for himself. But mostly for customers. That’s how it usually works. As the economist and Nobel laureate William Nordhaus concluded in a 2004 paper, most of the benefits of innovation, roughly 98 percent, are passed onto consumers rather than captured by the innovators themselves. And many Americans currently relying on Amazon for essential products during our national quarantine might well agree.
Moreover, a world where Amazon’s stock keeps rising is probably one that ultimately got control of the coronavirus pandemic. Although shares have bounced back from their March lows, that’s only because investors seem to have concluded that the outbreak was going to be better than the one in Contagion. Indeed, at one point it seemed like they were pricing in the zombie apocalypse of I Am Legend.