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Why Does Amazon Get Corporate Welfare?

Not satisfied with just taking your money, Bezos is coming after your tax dollars as well.

"Uber-rich Amazon doesn't need and certainly doesn't deserve this giveaway, but officials in 238 cities have prostrated themselves in front of the welfare queen in an embarrassing bid to win her nod."

"Uber-rich Amazon doesn't need and certainly doesn't deserve this giveaway, but officials in 238 cities have prostrated themselves in front of the welfare queen in an embarrassing bid to win her nod." (Photo: Canonicalized/flickr/cc)

Jeffrey Preston Bezos is the man of unbounded ambition who founded Amazon, the online retailing colossus that trumpets itself as "Earth's most customer-centric company." He's considered a model of tech wizardry for having totally reinvented retail marketing for our smart-phone, globally-linked age. Amazon peddles a cornucopia of goods through a convenient "1-click" ordering system, rapidly delivering the goods right to your doorstep.

No one has imagined corporate domination more expansively nor pushed it harder or further than Bezos, and his Amazon stands today as the most advanced and the most ambitious model of a future under oligarchic control, including control of markets, work, information, consumerism, media and beyond. He doesn't merely see himself remaking commerce with his vast electronic networks, algorithms and metrics — but rebooting America itself, including changing our society's concept of a job, the definition of community, and even our basic values of fairness and justice. It amounts to a breathtaking aspiration to transform our culture's democratic paradigm into a corporate imperium, led by Amazon.

Amazon's most recent announcement is that it wants to get inside your home — and, ironically, it's using "security" as its rationale. Rather than Amazon leaving products you order on your doorstep, the corporation wants a key to unlock your door so its delivery crews can do you the favor of placing the products you order inside your abode.

Would you give your house key to a complete stranger, letting that person — whose name you don't even know — walk right into your home when you're not there? What could possibly go wrong with that? Other than your being robbed, of course, either by rogue Amazon employees or by hackers who will certainly gain access to the corporation's computerized key codes. Or maybe "Crusher," your Pitbull, mauls the Amazon intruder and you get sued.

Need I mention that Bezos expects you to pay for the privilege of having his employees enter your home? First, his dicey, open-sesame program, which he calls "Amazon Key," is available only to customers who shell out $99 a year to be "Amazon Prime" members.

Second, you must buy a special internet-unlocking gizmo and a particular camera to join his corporate key club. And guess where you must go to buy this entry technology? Yes, Amazon — where prices for the system start at $250.

 

What a deal! For Amazon, that is. Bezos' real goal (indeed, his only goal, always) is not to get inside your home, but inside your wallet.

Not satisfied with just taking your money, Bezos is coming after your tax dollars as well.

Many politicians across the country piously rant against giving a few bucks worth of jobless benefits to the needy, then turn around and shove billions of our tax dollars into corporate welfare for the greedy!

And with Amazon, here we go again. We're presently witnessing the most disgusting spectacle yet of the politico-corporate cabal extracting money from the People's wallets to enrich themselves. The $136-billion-a-year internet colossus, has haughtily generated a shameful public bidding war over the location of its new corporate headquarters. The "winner" essentially will be the city and state that offers the most bribe money from their treasury.

Uber-rich Amazon doesn't need and certainly doesn't deserve this giveaway, but officials in 238 cities have prostrated themselves in front of the welfare queen in an embarrassing bid to win her nod. In fact, their offers have been based on Amazon's very specific demands, including a "business-friendly environment and tax structure," plus free land, payment of its capital and operational costs, tax breaks, relocation grants for executives and workforce, reduced utility bills and construction fees and... oh yeah, also give us first-rate schools and an educated labor pool.

As one analyst of Amazon's one-sided scams noted, "these incentives aren't free. There's no fairy godmother paying for them." The usual result of corporate giveaways is that the public cost exceeds any benefits we get back. Ironically, by demanding such corporate spoils, Amazon brands itself a common thief, stealing public trust in the fairness of the system and widening inequality in our society.

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

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