Missteps plague Amazon

CORPORATE WELFARE SLOWS

When residents of Queens, New York ousted Amazon from their territory after the behemoth asked for the moon, most major media spun the story as Amazon wanted, as though the New York borough had lost a golden opportunity.

But reports from Queens mostly describe residents thrilled by the departure, and health care company Centene Corporation appears to be taking Amazon’s place without bribery, Crains New York reported. Centene would occupy the same space at Long Island City’s One Court Square that Amazon was slated to take before reneging on the $3 billion deal.

And there are indications that the day of the mega-bribe in economic development is passing. Nevada Public Radio recently reported, “Last year, when Amazon was looking for a city to house its second headquarters, [San Jose, California, Mayor Sam] Liccardo threw San Jose’s hat in the ring. But unlike the various cities that promised generous tax incentives, San Jose offered Amazon no money. ‘If you’re offering incentives, those are dollars you could use to be building out transit … supporting an ecosystem of talent development,’ Liccardo says.”

And every time Amazon casts a covetous eye on Las Vegas, a local columnist tears into the corporation. When Amazon launched its second headquarters search that ended up momentarily bagging Queens, right wing columnist Victor Joecks went to work in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Under the headline, “Just say no to bribing Amazon to come to Nevada,” he wrote, “Amazon should do Nevada a favor and remove Las Vegas from its shopping cart. Giving Amazon special tax incentives and tax abatements—likely worth well over $1 billion—is a terrible idea. … Amazon’s promises are shakier than a politician’s. ‘All job numbers, categories, and salaries contained herein are estimates/projections and are subject to change,’ Amazon’s information sheet reads. The promise of up to 50,000 jobs is spread out over 10 to 15 years. Amazon says its capital expenditures could be as low as $2.16 billion, not the touted $5 billion. A bait and switch from Amazon is still a bait and switch. Don’t fall for it. Amazon, go take someone else’s money. If you want a handout, you’re not welcome here.”

In November, a group of Somali workers forced officials at a massive Amazon warehouse in Minnesota to come to the negotiating table, one of a wave of worker organizing victories in new tech corporations like Google, Palantir and Microsoft.