Billionaire vs. City

As the wealth of the wealthiest continues to grow, as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and a couple of dozen others continue to amass fortunes which are greater than the economy of many nations, a conflict such as this was bound to arise eventually. Jeff Bezos v. Rotterdam, the Netherlands is probably just the first example, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Here’s the conflict. Jeff Bezos had a new yacht built (I guess his old one just wasn’t doing it for him) in the city of Rotterdam. It’s big, it’s tall, and it cost him nearly half a billion dollars. In fact, the three masted ship is so tall, it can’t get under the bridge it needs to get under to get from the shipyard to the ocean. I am reminded of about a million cartoons of somebody painting themselves into a corner, and of one of my favorite books as a child, about Mike Mulligan and his steam engine, Mary Anne, who dug the basement for the new town hall, and then couldn’t get out, so Mike Mulligan became the janitor and Mary Anne became the boiler, and everybody lived happily ever after but, this being real life, I doubt it will have such a happy ending. Somebody, either Jeff Bezos or the people of Rotterdam, are going to come out of this seriously pissed off.
Bezos wants the city to temporarily dismantle the bridge, and he has offered to pay for it. On the other hand, it’s a historical bridge, the last time it was renovated Dutch authorities swore it would never be trifled with again, and a fair number of people in Rotterdam are saying “Fuck Jeff Bezos. We don’t have to take down our bridge just for him.”
Now, in fairness to Jeff Bezos, I’ve seen a photo of the bridge. It may be historical but it is just a low, ugly, metal bridge. It being closed for a couple of months certainly won’t make the city any less attractive, and if he’s willing to foot the bill, my guess is the city fathers will concede.
On the other hand, I saw one comment on this over on Facebook that really grated on my nerves. “He’s already spent half a billion on the boat, and it has to put out to sea.” Oh, does it, now? Is it putting out to sea to combat Nazi submarines? Will it be monitoring icebergs, or ocean levels, to give us an early warning about climate change? Is it’s purpose to rescue dolphins from tuna nets?
Nobody in the whole world will be negatively impacted if it doesn’t put out to sea, if it sits in the Rotterdam shipyards until Jeff Bezos gets tired of it and dismantles it for scrap. Even Jeff Bezos will only be out half a billion, less than 1/400th of his net worth, and he’ll just have to make do with a couple of his lesser yachts for a while.
So, I think the city should leave the bridge alone, tell Jeff Bezos to go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut, so to speak, and we all could have a good laugh about how one of the richest men in the world was too stupid to not consider the height of the bridge before building his big ass boat.
But I suspect it will go the other way.

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