“Hanging On or Giving Back?”

Every adult seems to have some kind of reevaluation in mid life. I have been fascinated by how that dynamic plays out in the lives of the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife Mackenzie Scott Bezos. When more money than Croesus fails to provide satisfaction, where do people go? In the case of Jeff, apparently into a teenage boy’s fantasy life of a “bombshell” girl friend, a yacht and a rocket trip into space. In Mackenzie’s case into marriage with the science teacher at her children’s school. The above photos highlight the remarriage of each.(The photo of Jeff is typical of the ones he posts. I didn’t pick a particularly “revealing” one.)

More telling to me, however, is how each Bezos has chosen to deal with what seems to most of us as an obscene fortune. (Probably every one of my readers contributed to the wealth.) Yes it came from a good idea, but it also resulted in a massive dislocation to society and came from questionable treatment of workers. But as of last year, Jeff has given away 1% of his fortune, mostly for space travel, and Mackenzie has given 18% to a wide variety of causes including housing and education. She says she intends to give the money away “until the vault is empty.”

As for settling the mid life struggle we usually face, Jeff apparently thinks happiness is out in space. Mackenzie seems content to improve life here on earth.

32 thoughts on ““Hanging On or Giving Back?”

  1. I also had a mid-life crisis, when I was 45. I spilt with my second wife, lost half of everything, (not remotely at a Bezos financial level of course) and ended up in a small rented flat in a part of London that was completely alien to me. I cannot fully explain even now why I did that, I just felt an overwhelming desire to ‘start again’.
    Space travel and a younger bride were not on my mind, I promise you.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. It seems we have always had one kind of Rockerfeller or another, often dislocating society in the process where perhaps some kind of regulation should have been imposed. However, what appalls me more is the way that right wing governnents have looked away while the section of society that votes for them has accumulated wealth at the expense of the rest. Here in the UK there has been talk of special taxes on companies that have profited from covid and/or the energy crisis. There has been absolutely no talk of taxing or regulating “buy-to-let” landlords who have been insulated from all this, or the banks that fund them – they always get their rents and interest and are putting them up even though their costs have not risen. Housing costs are at the root of so many of society’s problems.

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  3. I don’t know either of them to make a value judgment, but Mackenzie seems to have her priorities in line. I don’t begrudge anyone making money, but it sure is nice if they give some of that back for worthy causes.

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    1. It is easy to see where her money is going. Here it has come to the Boys and Girls Clubs in a big enough way to make a real difference. She also doesn’t put strings on her gifts once she and her team have analyzed the organizations.

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  4. I started my work life as a teacher because I loved to help, became a painter, then a lawyer, then a recruiter, then an instructional designer. I am here to stay because I have finally found who I am–a teacher who no one ever takes seriously. So, I work in the background creating teaching material. 🙂 My first marriage failed after 100 days. Second began 7 years later and makes me wish I had stayed single. It takes long to understand ourselves. I’m still trying. A life of adventure and no regrets.

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  5. HI Elizabeth, this is interesting. I don’t have an obscene amount of money, but if I did I would also give more to charity. I give quite a lot already. I’m more interested in earthly happiness except for when it comes to books and even then I really read sci-fi.

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        1. Great lengthy article about her in the Sunday New York Times. Her first love was writing and she studied fiction under Toni Morrison who wholeheartedly supported her.

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