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Bezos to Lift Off – WSJ

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This undated handout photo obtained May 19, 2021, courtesy of Blue Origin, shows a close-up of the New Shepard rocket as it launches in West Texas.



Photo:

handout/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

What’s the fun of being the world’s richest person if you can’t fashion a rocket and launch yourself into space? Say what you will about

Jeff Bezos,

but he’s certainly willing to eat his own cooking. The Journal’s Matt Grossman reports:

Jeff Bezos plans to travel to space next month as part of the first crew carried by Blue Origin, the Amazon.com Inc. founder’s space company.

Mr. Bezos said in an Instagram post Monday that he will be one of the inaugural passengers on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, during its first crewed flight scheduled for launch from West Texas on July 20. Mr. Bezos, 57 years old, said that his brother, Mark Bezos, will also be on board…

Blue Origin’s New Shepard has made 15 uncrewed test flights, which the company said demonstrates the mission’s safety. Most commercial aircraft don’t carry passengers before undergoing an intensive series of hundreds of piloted flights.

“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Mr. Bezos said in a video posted to Instagram. “It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”

It will also be a big deal for the winner of a June 12 charity auction, who will be allowed to come along for the ride. The Bezos brothers and their charitable guest can take comfort in the fact that while the craft may have been subjected to relatively few test missions, its performance has been almost perfect. Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch writes that “save for the first flight where the reusable booster was lost, [New Shepard] has had a complete success for each of those 15 missions, including landing of the booster (except that first time) and recovery of the capsule (for all of the launches).”

It seems likely that the charity auction winner will enjoy the company. Avery Hartmans at Business Insider notes:

Jeff has described his brother as the “funniest guy in my life” and said that when they’re together — often drinking bourbon — “I just laugh continuously.”

Taking the maiden voyage for humans on a vehicle headed 62 miles above sea level, perhaps the brothers will be thinking this is one of those times for the bourbon, and let’s hope for the laughter as well. Back on Earth, more than a few observers will likely be toasting the creativity and guts of one of America’s great entrepreneurs.

The moment may also remind a few of those observers of the irony that Mr. Bezos, a sort of living testament to American liberty and American exceptionalism, owns a Beltway newspaper enamored of central planning. Viewed from outer space or here on earth, the Washington Post may look small but its owner’s achievements are not.

***

Speaking of Skyrocketing

Ryan Grabinski of Strategas Research notes the soaring profits of American corporations:

With 99% of the S&P 500 having reported, it’s fair to say that 1Q’21 was a blowout season for earnings.

87.5% of companies beat their earnings estimates for the quarter, a record high going back to the mid-1990s and well above the long-term historical average of 65%.

***

Speaking of the Beltway Swamp

This seems to be a day to celebrate accomplishments, and believe it or not one has even occurred in Washington. Amazingly, the good news arrives in a press release from one of Washington’s most politicized and dangerous bureaucracies:

The Department of Justice today announced that it has seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at approximately $2.3 million. These funds allegedly represent the proceeds of a May 8, ransom payment to individuals in a group known as DarkSide, which had targeted Colonial Pipeline, resulting in critical infrastructure being taken out of operation. The seizure warrant was authorized earlier today by the Honorable Laurel Beeler, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California…

On or about May 7, Colonial Pipeline was the victim of a highly publicized ransomware attack resulting in the company taking portions of its infrastructure out of operation. Colonial Pipeline reported to the FBI that its computer network was accessed by an organization named DarkSide and that it had received and paid a ransom demand for approximately 75 bitcoins.

***

OK, Let’s Not Get Carried Away Praising Bureaucracies

Remember when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) used to pretend that the federal student-loan program was a windfall for taxpayers? Her fellow Democrats at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue are beginning to acknowledge reality. The Journal’s Josh Mitchell reports from Washington:

The Biden administration has raised an estimate of losses on the federal government’s student loan portfolio by $53 billion, reflecting lower repayment rates and pandemic-relief efforts…

A year ago, the federal budget projected that taxpayers would ultimately lose $15 billion on all outstanding student debt, which currently comes to $1.6 trillion. The administration’s proposed $6 trillion budget now projects long-term losses will reach $68 billion.

Those estimates are still far smaller than losses projected in an internal analysis led by officials appointed by

Betsy DeVos,

who was education secretary under President

Donald Trump,

which showed that taxpayers ultimately would be on the hook for roughly two-thirds of the $1.6 trillion student debt portfolio.

***

James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”

***

Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

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(Lisa Rossi helps compile Best of the Web.)

***

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