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 Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."