The Amazon Scam

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As Scott Simon pointed out, opposition to the Amazon deal has brought rare unified outrage from right and left.  Before the deal was made public, Richard Walker, author most recently of Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area, told me via email:

If there’s one thing economic geographers know, it’s that tax incentives and other goodies play a very small role in corporate locational decision-making. While one can understand a small city like Louisville or Oklahoma City falling for it, there’s no way in hell NYC should do anything to help Bezos. He NEEDS the kind of labor force and infrastructure and access that NYC offers, which is why he’s now talking NY and DC as his top choices, no Podunk, Iowa.

But a nearly laughless SNL episode hosted by Steve Carell sympathized with Amazon.  First, an info-ad featuring Carell as bald Bezos went after easy target Trump, and then, for Weekend Update, Jost mocked New Yorkers for complaining about the Amazon deal.  It took little thought for me to reverse Jost’s joke:

We gave Bezos a billion dollars to locate in New York: that’s like paying a teenage boy to watch internet porn.  In fact, Bezos already has a home here, so its like telling that boy you don’t even have to leave your room.  Just have at it, and we’ll slide the money under the door!

Could the failure at critique be linked to the presence of Amazon Christmas commercials during the show?  Or is it simply that mocking politicians is much easier than taking on corporations with similar totalitarian tendencies.  Or, perhaps SNL did not want to bring attention to the corporate welfare they receive through the “Made in NY” program, which I made a short video mocking several years back.

How do we prevent this crazy race by localities to giveaway tax dollars to the superrich?  Derek Thompson convincingly argues in the Atlantic it should be made illegal.  Let’s use this rare political unity to make this happen.  Contact your representatives before the next billionaire huckster comes begging.

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