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How a Failing Capitalist System Is Allowing Amazon to Cripple America

How a Failing Capitalist System Is Allowing Amazon to Cripple America

Paul Buchheit

Capitalism is failing in America, and Amazon is both the cause and beneficiary of much of the breakdown. Jeff Bezos said, "We've had three big ideas at Amazon that we've stuck with for 18 years, and they're the reason we're successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient." He might have added three capitalist practices familiar to his company: (1) Pay no taxes; (2) Drive competitors out of business; and (3) Exploit workers.

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Lord Acton on Power and Authority:

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”

“Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”

“Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.”

“Everybody likes to get as much power as circumstances allow, and nobody will vote for a self-denying ordinance.”

“Absolute power demoralizes.”

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Dear Paul Bucheit,

Fabulous article and rich background worthy of a resource to be downloaded and saved for ongoing reference.

One question: Stunning to click your book sales link and find … it’s on Amazon!

Heres a link to the publisher Routledge

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A quick DuckDuckGo search reveals that Amazon sells over half of all non-ebooks.

So Buchheit is a victim of the monopolizing power he decries.

Personally, my wife and I made the conscious decision to move to a walkable community where everything we need is just a stroll away. I buy nothing from Amazon and I invite everyone who has the option to join me.

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Most walkable neighborhoods with everything you need is not affordable to a good many of us. I don’t consider myself poor, I do have money to pay for a $2300 dental bill last year for redoing a 20 year old root canal, vacation, and new set of tires, however, I cannot afford walkable neighborhoods homes or new condos.

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Bozo sez:
“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel …”

If you make it a one-way excursion, that would be great. Bon voyage.

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LOL! Perfect!

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I wouldn’t call rents here in Ann Arbor cheap, especially in walkable neighborhoods.

But it’s waaaaay cheaper than the coasts.

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I get the sense that we aren’t understanding enough of the situation.

Of course, nobody is forced to work at Amazon warehouses for those wages, under those working conditions …

ÂżWhy, when an Amazon warehouse is established, do wages at nearby warehouses go down?
– Hypothesis: Those warehouses are operated by Amazon competitors. Who haven’t made the cost-saving capital investments that Amazon has. And risk being put out of business. And likely will be put out of business.

When a capital investment is made, who gets the “return on investment” from that investment? Particularly in circumstances where workers are displaced and lose their jobs? Conversely, who takes the loss if it was a dumb investment?

A reference, also common, that quite a few warehouse workers receive SNAP food stamps from the government. So I will refer to an anecdote out of 19th century France. If we did not provide food stamps, and it really was evident that those wages aren’t “living” wages, would it rouse up the revolution to overthrow those employments and “exploitations”?

Decades ago Canada erected trade barriers, such that America’s Big Four (at the time) automakers couldn’t sell imports to Canadians. With the intent of forcing the Big Four to build plants in Canada and hire Canadian workers to build cars. ¿Taking everything into account, how did that work out for Canada? The US did something the same to Japanese automakers. Taking everything into account, how has that worked out for the USA? Are there lessons here with regards to Amazon, and capitalism in general? Would Americans benefit from erecting some trade barriers between the states? Pres. Trump has accused Amazon.com of getting too good a deal out of its use of the USPS. ¿Should that end? In what way should that end?

Paul Bucheit’s article contains a misleading false statement that is often repeated.
" the Internet, which was built with our tax money through the National Science Foundation since the 1980s, and before that by the taxpayer-funded Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)."

The government paid the money for the first few foundation stones of the internet, but everything else, what it has become, was built by the private sector. Does the US government have a patent on what it invested, and has the government, have we, gotten a fair return on that investment? Considering all aspects of it.

By the way, regarding the photo at the top of the article, and the banner “Amazon doesn’t pay taxes / $120K/job and the train still won’t work”

Why doesn’t the train work? Arguably it isn’t for lack of money. Arguably it is because you’ve got mismanagers in charge of it.

There is a story, about a seasonal winter feature in New York City’s Central Park. For many years money was poured into getting the feature up and open and operating again, and each year the efforts failed. Then Donald Trump, businessman, offered to take it over. He had it up and operating the next season. That lasted about two years and then politics, politicians and angry political advocates pushed Donald Trump out, and the feature returned to being a drain on public money that didn’t operate. ¿Which situation served the public better?

The answer is simple… nationalize Amazon and make it a federal company that is unionized! Change the name to something like USAshopping.gov, pay Bezos a fair buck for the company (minus all the taxes he owes!), give him a medal for helping out America and send him on his way… to some earthly location on his own dime though!
A nationalized Amazon would make every American an equal shareholder. Wages would go up, working conditions would improve and if the company breaks even, that would be fantastic! Under the current system, if the company breaks even, Bezos would slash wages, avoid paying even more taxes and fund right wing ideologues to undermine the public interest.
This would be a great platform for Progressives in the next election.

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we should be nationalizing allot of companies … especially all those god damn defense contractors

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Here’s a quick look at inequality since 1945: A report from the Economic Policy Institute, “The New Gilded Age” shows (page 12) with voluminous detail the history and extent of income inequality. In short it contrasts two periods of growth, the 28 years between 1945 and 1973, contrasted with the 42 years 1973 to 2015. In the first period 4.9% of growth went to the top-earning 1%, and 95.1% went to the lower-earning 99%. In the second period 56% went to the top 1% while 44% went to the lower 99%. In the first period the real inflation adjusted incomes of the 99% doubled, all 99% of households increased income by 100.1% in 28 years. In the second period of 42 years the lower 99% increased their incomes by 15.4%. The top 1% increased their incomes by 216.4%, more than tripling. This a jaw-dropping report of extreme economic disruption. – The answer is public awareness.

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On a side note, I just had a root canal last week. Yuck.

Running an ice skating rink in a NYC park is not the same as operating an airport such as JFK. For one thing, in ice skating eveyone accepts going in the same direction, for safety sake. That makes it pretty easy to be successful.
Whereas, in an airport setting everyone accepts everyone going in all sorts of directions, which is why you need unionized air traffic controllers, etc. A very complex and regulated environment for safety sake is a necessity.
The moral of your story is that Donald Trump can only manage something everyone agrees with doing, in terms of taking and following his directions.
Tell us something we don’t already know.

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Or, putting words in your mouth, as operating the NY subway system.

The moral of my story is contrasting some-not-all private sector operators and New York City, which is particularly relevant in this case, and might be analogous in other cases. If New York City can’t operate an ice skating rink in its own showcase Central Park, something you describe as “pretty easy”, why should we think they can operate the subway system. And why would we blame some other private company (Amazon) for the continuing failure of that subway system.
– Anyway, you won’t have Amazon to kick around for the continuing failure of New York City’s subway system. What are you doing to fix it?

Any system based on profit rather than communal principles will fail us, and any “democratic socialism” that attempts to tame that venal beast, rather than replace it, will do likewise.

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HI a2plusb2: this is off the topic, but wrier did you get the ability to write the upside down question mark? Are there Spanish writing programs?

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These billionaires are selfish and some people even idolize them. They should contribute to a cause because it gets the respect from the collective.

HI mrsannnhitts: actually, the center area of all ice rinks is reserved for the skaters who know how to skate, and are able to do spins and jumps. It’s a lot like corporate America in the sense that the," high skills people, " get the best ice while the newbies, or the low wage workers—in a corporate senes— are left to cling to the safety of the rails. It’s a very Undemocratic place.