Amazon is donating $690,000 to Australia's fire recovery. Does Jeff Bezos owe the world more?

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (a.k.a. The Wealthiest Man to Ever Walk the Earth) has announced that his company (a.k.a. the Most Valuable Company to Ever Exist) will contribute $1 million Australian dollars in aid to Australia to assist with the country's bushfire recovery efforts. In U.S. dollars, that's approximately $690,000.

For sure, $690,000 is not a small amount of money, and every donation counts. But the announcement from Bezos has people expressing their not-so-charitable feelings about the mega rich man and his mega valuable company. And when you calculate what kind of an effect $690,000 has on Amazon's bottom line, it's not hard to see why.


We're about to get into some unreal numbers here, so it's worth doing a bit of a "How Much Is a Billion" review. Most of us don't have a good grasp on how much a billion is.



So now that we understand how bonkers a billion dollars is, how many billions is Amazon worth? Valuing a company isn't a straightforward endeavor, so estimates vary. Some market cap valuations have put Amazon's worth at $1 trillion. (That's a thousand billions, $1,000,000,000,000 if you really want to see the zeroes.) A much more conservative estimate puts the company's true net worth at less than a fifth of that, at $160 billion.

RELATED: The Truth Behind Amazon's Success? It's Kinda Evil.

Just for funsies, let's take a look at the math for both Amazon value extremes and compare it to the average American's charitable giving.

If Amazon is valued at $1 trillion, a donation of $690,000 would be .000069% of the company's worth. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth for American families is $97,000. So that means for the typical American, a donation equivalent to Amazon's would be less than 7 cents. Now, that's not nothing, right? But is that a donation people would feel good about announcing?

Now let's look at the more conservative estimate of $160 billion. In that case, a $690,000 donation would be .00043% of Amazon's worth. For the typical American household, that's the equivalent of giving…wait for it…42 cents. Again, is that a donation most of us would announce proudly?

Twitter users were quick to point out the relatively tiny donation from the world's most valuable company, especially compared to what several others whose net worths are far lower have donated. For example, the heavy metal group Metallica reportedly donated $750,000. Pop singer Pink has pledged $500,000 (and Bette Midler is matching it).


In turn, other Twitter users chided people for charity shaming, pointing out that Amazon didn't have to give anything, but did. And it's true. Giving is voluntary. (It's also true that charitable giving is a way for rich people to pay less in taxes, so giving isn't always about altruism.) But it's also all relative. For a person making minimum wage, even a few dollars is a huge sacrifice. Relative to total wealth, Amazon's donation is the sacrificial equivalent of a few coins of pocket change for most of us.

The debate boils down to whether or not someone with gargantuan amounts of extra money has some kind of obligation to society to share the wealth with those in need. And if so, how much of that wealth is a reasonable amount to expect? (For an interesting look at how much billionaires give compared to their wealth, check out this article.)

The guy who originally posted the Bezos story pointed out that if everyone on Twitter donated $2, they could beat Bezos' donation, but that suggestion seems to miss—or perhaps reinforce—the point. A $2 donation for the typical American would be the equivalent of more than $3 million for Amazon.

Good effort at rallying the 99.9%, though, man. But perhaps people can give their $2 and also push for accountability for megabillionaires whose companies pay no taxes.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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