Jeff Bezos faces 'space tax', criticism for thanking Amazon employees after space flight

After being blasted by Oxfam for spending billions of dollars on space travel while millions go hungry on Planet Earth, Jeff Bezos spent 11 minutes today as the richest man above the world.

On the eve of Blue Origin's inaugural manned flight, Deepak Xavier, Oxfam International's global head of inequality campaign said "Bezos pays next to no US income tax but can spend US$7.5 billion on his own aerospace adventure."

"What we need is a fair tax system that allows more investment into ending hunger and poverty, into education and healthcare, and into saving the planet from the growing climate crisis - rather than leaving it," said Xavier.

That has prompted Democratic US Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to announce he intends going after billionaires commercially flying into space like Bezos, Richard Branson and SpaceX's Elon Musk.

He's proposing a tax entitled 'The Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act', which would tax those going to space for non-scientific reasons.

"Space exploration isn't a tax-free holiday for the wealthy," Blumenauer said.

"Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some.

"I'm not opposed to this type of space innovation. However, things that are done purely for tourism or entertainment, and that don't have a scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good."

Bezos has also drawn criticism for thanking Amazon's employees and customers for funding the trip during a post-flight press conference.

"I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this," Bezos said.

"Seriously, for every Amazon customer out there, and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It's very appreciated."

Meghan McCain, daughter of former US President hopeful John McCain, pointed out that Amazon employees have had to pee in water bottles because they don't get long enough bathroom breaks.

Vice's Motherboard went with a headline that was equally direct: "Jeff Bezos Thanks Workers Who Pee in Bottles for Paying for His Space Trip"

Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO at the beginning of the month, also announced a US$200 million donation to the National Air and Space Museum, the largest donation the Smithsonian has ever received.