This letter is a reaction to Ellen Snortland’s column in Pasadena Weekly.

My feeling about these flights is that they are simply ego trips. These men have the money, and they choose to spend it on a meaningless glory trip. The U.S. and Soviet Union space programs starting in the 1950s were creating and testing new technologies.

An early U.S. aircraft that was the first to break the sound barrier was the rocket powered X1 that was carried into the air by another aircraft.

It was dropped from the carrier craft and fired its rocket engine to achieve the speed that exceeded the speed of sound. Branson’s stunt used the same technology. His rocket plane had more people on board, but that is the major difference. Bezos’ capsule resembled the Mercury craft that sent the first U.S. man to the edge of space. The Mercury craft landed in the ocean and carried only one person, but that is the major difference from Bezos’ flight. My point is that the U.S. and Soviet space programs were exploring and expanding our knowledge of space beyond our planet. They also created solutions to the hostile environment of space, and some creations have become commercial successes.

The other side of this is these men are not interested in spending money that will help their employees. They want maximum profit. They want to satisfy their stockholders. Bezos’ Amazon workers, the ones he “thanked” for financing the flight, often work in horrific conditions.

A recent effort to organize workers at an Amazon warehouse in the south was actively obstructed by Amazon, and it lost the vote to organize. There were probably violations of labor laws, but the government seems unwilling to ensure that labor organizing actions are done fairly.

Finally, these stunts are, to me, a strong argument for instituting a wealth tax on those who have such excessive personal wealth. Those who say these people “earned” that wealth need to realize that it was amassed on the backs of hundreds or thousands of workers often paid poverty level wages to work in unsafe conditions.

We need a national minimal living wage for workers and active enforcement of laws affecting worker safety. We also need to prevent companies from buying from foreign sources that use slave or near-slave labor.

Gary Green