“Richard Branson, the British billionaire, plans to blast into space on Sunday from New Mexico aboard a rocket made by his company Virgin Galactic. Nine days later, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is scheduled to rocket into space from West Texas in a capsule made by his company Blue Origin.” — NPR, July 11, 2021

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Pardon me. I am Ambassador Uxbf’xccvllttr’th-7/5, leader of the Hovstellian Space Exploration Program. My associates and I have recently landed on your planet, having traveled trillions of light years from our home star system.

We come on a mission of diplomacy. The fate of the universe may hang in the balance. Please take us to the richest person on your planet.

No, I don’t wish to speak to an ambassador like myself. You see, my people have determined that in any society, the best, smartest, most exemplary individual will always have the most money. The “man-ah-jerr,” if you will.

Here’s the catch, though, we only want to speak to one obscenely rich person per planet. When it comes to first contact, there’s no second place. It doesn’t matter how many blue suits you wear. If you’ve got less than 100 billion dollars, I wave my typing tentacle over the “Intelligent Life on Earth” box on my survey tablet and enter “No.”

I am fully aware of the way your primitive Earth society is structured. You have presidents, majority leaders, kings, queens, somebody called a “person of the year.” This makes me vent my rear cranial flap in boredom. We have no wish to waste your time or ours. What we really want to see is the person who has multiple media outlets, vehicles, grocery stores, and politicians to their name.

Oh, we’ve tried to communicate with non-wealthy beings, believe you me. Radio signals, monoliths, cryptic messages in mashed potatoes, you name it. There’s just a certain… class you get when you’re talking to the wealthiest person on a given planet, no matter where you are. Just the other day, we had a highly productive lunch with Uraboolaboolub, the spolvonium baron of Luyten b. We’d managed to set up a complete interplanetary alliance within half of a planetary rotation.

Honestly, it doesn’t usually take this long. We land, we swap identification spores, we leave. We just look for the person who has the best online retail company, line of cars, and tax shelters. Then it’s WHAM BAM, THANK YOU, SENTIENT CLAM, or whatever creature we’re conversing with.

Truly, the only space programs we trust are those that have been privately funded. That’s because the true capitalist visionaries are the ones brave enough to insist on making money while doing services normally provided by the government.

Put yourself in our locomotive appendage coverings. Let’s suppose you had traveled impossibly far distances in search of intelligent life. You finally find some. You’re tired, hungry, and could use a high-quality massage. Would you settle for the human equivalent of economy class? And yes, we have economy class on our planet, although us Hostvellians call it “VBs,,tzp9G%!,” which translates to “shit class.”

I, the highest-ranking ambassador of our species, couldn’t care less who has the better political track record, higher-quality technology, or superior talent. It’s all about that coin, soin. Point us in the direction of the moneymaker, the rulebreaker, the one so rich you’re never sure if you’re talking to them or an android replica.

Ah! I see him now. Clearly a man of success. His lack of hair makes him resemble a shining sun. His solid-color dress shirts represent the starkness of space around him. His steely manner shows his resolve as a pioneer of his species. Truly, this is the one who will represent all of Earth.

Also, he looks super delicious.