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Wealthy spacemen weather memes

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, receives a

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, receives a Virgin Galactic-made astronaut wings pin after his flight to space. Credit: AP/Andres Leighton

With the launching of space billionaires beginning in earnest, no one has benefited more than the meme industry, which creates practically no jobs or income.

That’s in stark contrast to the endeavors of Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who’ve created millions of jobs and are silly enough to merit lighthearted ridicule, but not evil enough to deserve the death wishes the Internet is sending them

Branson, the founder of Virgin Records and the Virgin Atlantic airline, is behind Virgin Galactic, the company that hurtled him more than 50 miles beyond the Earth’s surface Sunday for a few minutes. He's the first of at least three billionaires planning to head to space in craft controlled by their own companies. Amazon’s Bezos and Tesla’s Musk are right behind him in the queue.

And as soon as Branson returned to Earth safely, the snark started. Except, is it really just "snark" if it implies these guys ought to die in space?

On Facebook and Instagram and Twitter the quips came flying:

"The biggest problem with shooting billionaires into space is they apparently found a way back" read one Tweet, implying, I guess, that the men should die on their ships.

The idea that these guys ought to expire out there is rampant. So is the feeling that the money the billionaires spent on space should have gone to solve all the world’s other problems: hunger, pollution, global warming, educational shortcomings, homelessness.

Chirped one tweeter, "Imagine if these billionaires put as much energy into ending childhood hunger as they do into these vanity space programs."

If those on the far left, particularly in the United States, still believe there is chronic hunger and homelessness because individuals and governments are too stingy to provide food and shelter, and that a few billion bucks from these guys would solve what hundreds of billions or trillions from governments and individuals hasn’t, they may be truly unteachable.

Or they’ve never seen food rotting while corruption kept it from the hungry, or housing for the homeless left empty because mental illness kept the needy out in the cold.

If money and generosity alone could have solved these problems, they would have 100 times over, with people like these three men leading the charge.

Then there was this, from Daily Beast columnist and think-tanker Wajahat Ali: "Bezos, Branson, Musk and all the white billionaires would eventually return to Earth even if they live in space because no poor folks or people of color would be there to do all the work."

So now self-made tech billionaires are lazy and only employ the poor and people of color?

Branson’s philanthropy is nearly as extensive as his businesses. Musk’s leadership of the electric vehicle revolution at Tesla has been game changing. Bezos’ Amazon practically kept our country fed and clothed during the pandemic, and, a bonus, he is Donald Trump’s archenemy.

Humans seem to always be looking for the people they’re allowed to guiltlessly despise and wish dead. This week, it’s billionaires. But it’s a strange turn when people who oppose the death penalty for brutal murderers want to impose it on men whose sin is being both very wealthy, and very excited about seeking the kind of technological advances that have made the modern world possible.

Columnist Lane Filler's opinions are his own.

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