By Stephen Lendman
Seattle-based Amazon is like corporate predator Walmart, exploiting communities, along with harming local businesses and workers for maximum productivity and profits.
The company’s $100 billion dollar CEO Jeff Bezos didn’t get super-rich by being worker and community friendly – just the opposite, the way all Western corporate giants operate and most others, power, profits, and crushing competition their priorities.
That’s what predatory capitalism is all about – benefitting from harmful practices, polar opposite the way many, maybe most, locally owned and run small enterprises.
A London Guardian investigation revealed “numerous cases of Amazon workers being treated in ways that leave them homeless, unable to work or bereft of income after workplace accidents.”
One worker’s experience is similar to countless others, saying Amazon “cost me my home. They screwed me over and over, and I go days without eating.”
This “case is one of numerous reports from Amazon workers of being improperly treated after an avoidable work injury,” the Guardian explained, adding:
“Amazon’s warehouses were listed on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s ‘dirty dozen’ list of most dangerous places to work in the United States in April 2018.”
“The company made the list due to its pattern of unsafe working conditions and its focus on productivity and efficiency over the safety and livelihood of its employees.”
“Amazon’s emphasis on fulfilling a high demand of orders has resulted in unsafe working conditions for its warehouse employees.”
Numerous workers “succumb to the fatigue and exhaustion of the fulfillment center work environment and quit before getting injured.”
The company lied claiming it prioritizes worker safety, expressing “pr(ide)” in its shameful record, causing enormous harm to countless numbers of workers at its fulfillment centers.
On November 13, Amazon announced two new headquarters locations, besides its current Seattle one.
Additional ones will be in suburban Washington’s Arlington, Virginia’s Crystal City and Queens, NY Long Island City.
An astonishing 238 US cities competed for what the company calls its HQ2. In January, 20 finalists were chosen for its second headquarters – 19 in America, Toronto the only one abroad.
Up for grabs is about 50,000 promised jobs and around a $5 billion investment. Whenever a corporate headquarters is sought, cities and regions compete by offering companies huge tax breaks and other benefits – at the expense of small local businesses and cuts in public services.
For ordinary people, having major operations like Amazon, Walmart, and other corporate predators in communities is more of a curse than benefit.
Economics Professor Edward Glaeser said the downside of competition for companies like Amazon is it “become(s) a contest for throwing cash at the giant(s).”
The same thing goes on when professional sports teams consider moving to a new city, or the International Federation Association Football (FIFA) World Cup and International Olympic Committee (IOC) select locations for future events.
New stadiums become fields of schemes, not dreams, ordinary people in chosen areas harmed so super-wealthy ones can benefit hugely.
New York City won the bidding for one of two Amazon HQ2 locations by throwing $2.1 in tax incentives at the company – money badly needed for public education, affordable housing, and other vital public services lost to benefit Amazon.
The company’s move to NYC will cost area taxpayers around $61,000 for each of 25,000 promised jobs – double the per capita $32,000 for Virginia residents for the same number of promised jobs, according to Bloomberg, adding:
Amazon’s presence in these cities will likely “exacerbate the already fragile public transportation system and clogged roadways, and raise housing prices.”
Arlington, VA won its bid by offering Amazon $573 million in tax breaks and other benefits.
Locating one of two HQ2 locations there is related to the company’s pursuit of a $10 billion Defense Department cloud-computing contract it’s the front-runner to get.
In summer 2014, it got a $600 million Amazon Web Services cloud-computing contract for the CIA, linking the company and its Washington Post subsidiary to Langley, the broadsheet serving as its mouthpiece.
Bezos has a disturbing history currying favor with national security officials. Winning a major Defense Department contract will assure the company serves its interests along with the US intelligence community’s – at the expense of world peace, stability, and rights of ordinary people everywhere.
City officials betray their residents by throwing enormous amounts of money at deep-pocketed corporate giants to lure them to their areas – well able to defray the cost of expansion and conducting business operations without government handouts.
Yet it’s been the American way for time immemorial – Washington, states and cities financing enterprises from the earliest days of the republic.
The more concentrated business gets, the more power companies have over government – doing their bidding at the expense of ordinary people nationwide.
Amazon’s HQ2 is one of countless other examples of the same dirty business – getting enormous amounts of public money diverted from the general welfare.