Amazon Won’t be the Downfall of Our Country

Amazon Won’t be the Downfall of Our Country

Amazon Won’t be the Downfall of Our Country

Long before we had Trump Derangement Syndrome, we had Amazon Derangement Syndrome (ADS). Amazon was blamed for everything from the demise of locally owned, independent bookstores to the demise of publishing as the world had known it. Now that the circus surrounding Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing is over, ADS is once again in the news. Despite Jeff Bezos’ announcement his company was raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, those “woke” and concerned citizens have decided to eat their own. ADS wins again and conservatives everywhere are buttering their popcorn and sitting back to watch the show.

For those not familiar with ADS, it first appeared among traditional publishers and other online booksellers. In 2012, the Feds brought suit against Apple and five of the then-Big Six publishers for price fixing. Despite claims that agency pricing was the only way to save publishing and other arguments, the charges were upheld. Amazon prevailed and that should have been the end of it. But ADS continued.

Authors took up the cry that Bezos and company were responsible for the demise of so many of the independently owned local bookstores. They overlooked the fact most of those stores closed long before Amazon opened for business. The culprit? Big box bookstore chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble. They had the buying power necessary to force publishers to sell at lower prices, allowing them to price books and related merchandise at prices the indie bookstores could not match. Bye-bye indie bookstores.

And the lamentations of those suffering from ADS continued. Every time Amazon announced a new innovation or service, those lamentations grew louder and louder.

Enter the “woke” generation.

Instead of praising Bezos for doing exactly what they’ve been clamoring for, liberals gave him the squint eye. There is no applause for raising salaries without government interference. Instead, they ask questions like, “What is Amazon eliminating to pay for this?”

Another question being asked is, “When did we become The United States of Amazon?”

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting very tired of the screechers demanding something and then, when they get it, deciding it isn’t enough. Amazon didn’t have to give the raise to its employees. It could have turned a deaf ear on the demands from some employees and from a number of outside forces and continued with the status quo. It didn’t and now it finds itself being attacked for following the party line.

Author and business professor Scott Galloway is one of those leading the battle cry against Amazon. Part of that has been to warn of the “threats the company poses not just economically but philosophically and morally.”

Yes, that’s right. ADS sufferers now believe Amazon is a threat not just economically but philosophically and morally. Wow. Who knew buying a book online or listening to music or streaming video could take such a toll on our country and our psyches.

According to Galloway, “our society is effectively going through this very uncomfortable transition that is bad for our youth, bad for America and bad for the planet where we no longer worship at the altar of character and kindness. We worship at the altar of innovators and billionaires.”

Well hell. There’s the problem. Those who aren’t sufferers of ADS are supporters of capitalism and invention. I guess we ought to settle for what we already have and not strive to better our lives and the lives of everyone else. Bad free thinkers. Evil inventors. Sinful moneymakers.

Isn’t it interesting how this sounds so much like what we have been hearing from the liberals on the political scene? The rich should redistribute their wealth to those “less fortunate” than they. Successful companies must be punished for their success. How do we do that? Through more laws and more government interference. It’s the socialist way, after all.

Another of Galloway’s complaints about Amazon center around the tax breaks it enjoys. That is part of the “perversion” Amazon has supposedly inflicted upon us. What he so carefully ignores is that Amazon didn’t get these breaks in a vacuum. Nor is it the only business to have negotiated with local, state and federal taxing authorities. ADS blinds its sufferers to the reality of business negotiation in this day and age.

And Amazon has made itself such an indispensable part of the supply chain that it sets the price points of just about everything. If you are someone who makes something or sells something, from books to fire pits to flat- screen TVs, Amazon tells you what the market — its market — will bear. Its limitless supply of cash means it can undercut any other retailer in any space it wants to dominate.

Except that’s not exactly true. Amazon sets its own prices but those businesses and entrepreneurs who sell through Amazon Marketplace can and do set their own prices. Sometimes they are lower than Amazon and sometimes not.

As for Amazon being an “indispensable part of the supply chain”, eh. Not really. There are tens of thousands of Americans who do not use Amazon for anything. Others only use it for books or its streaming services. They might buy reading material from Bezos and company, but they would never consider buying clothing or furniture or, gasp, food from there. But they don’t count because they don’t fit the metrics of the ADS sufferers.

Outer space aside: Amazon wants to feed, treat, entertain, educate and medicate America — and that’s just what it’s told us. Nothing Orwellian here, right?

My question is what is Orwellian about it? Where were the objections to Walmart when it moved into towns and sold food, books, videos, music, auto parts, medicine and so much more? No one objected then and few object now, even though so many mom and pop businesses were driven under by Sam Walton and his “new” vision for stores.

If you look, and you don’t have to look hard, you can find more examples that put the lie to the Orwellian scare language. But isn’t that always the case with the liberals when they are “only looking out for us”?

At least Galloway isn’t limiting his attacks to only Amazon.

“Our tectonic shift was the death of Steve Jobs in 2011. We were already on the path of technology replacing religion, but Jobs, in dying young, “became our Christ, Apple our religion, and the iPhone the cross,” says Galloway.

But don’t fret. He quickly turns it back to Amazon. Evil Amazon makes billions in revenue, but many of its employees barely manage to get by. Still, when Amazon raises its minimum wage, it isn’t enough. The subtext, which isn’t well disguised, is simple. Bezos and Amazon need to redistribute its wealth to the worker bees and punish the innovators for being, well, innovators.

Amazon is evil because it is mechanizing much of the work being done. That means it isn’t employing as many people. Bad Amazon. Now it is taking away jobs, jobs that most don’t want to work. But that doesn’t matter.

Galloway’s conclusion is that we must break up Amazon. That’s another common demand of those suffering from ADS. “We don’t break companies up because they’re evil or take jobs or don’t pay taxes. We do it because it’s time.”

Funny, he spent most of a very long article explaining exactly why Amazon is evil. The problem is, his arguments are much the same as all too many Democrats (cough—Socialists—cough) cite when it comes to any big business or successful businessman. The fact they are now turning on one of their own should be a wake up call to every other businessman. If they are going after Bezos today, how long before they go after Zuckerberg and Facebook or Sundar Pichai and Google, just to name a few?

As dangerous as Trump Derangement Syndrome is, Amazon Derangement Syndrome may possibly be worse because of how it can be expanded. No one is saying Amazon is without fault. No company is. But to lay the problems of publishing or retail at its figurative feet is to overlook all the other causes, most of which existed long before Amazon came onto the scene.

We should be very wary of anyone, especially politicians, who claim they only have our best interests at heart when they start mucking about with our economic structure. It is up to use to keep an eye on what happens and to hold those responsible accountable. Otherwise, we just might wake up one day to find the only businesses around are those owned or operated by the government and the black market. Trust me, that is one nightmare none of us want.


Featured Image: Jeff Bezos/The Financial Times.

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  • More evidence that the Left never, ever, thinks. They only jerk the knee in response to the hammer (whatever that hammer is currently defined as, in this case “Amazon Evil”).

    Bonuses – a capitalistic notion. Giving to people based on their ability, not on their needs.

    Stock – a capitalistic notion. Encouraging employees to think about the health and profitability of the company, not of the collective.

    But eliminating those capitalistic notions, and paying employees equally regardless of their productivity, is evil because it is Amazon.

    • scott says:

      Not to mention, but every one of those changes mentioned are completely predictable consequences of raising the minimum wage, just as conservatives have been pointing out all along.. wages do not exist in a vacuum. If they go up, unrelated to an increase in profit, something else will go down / away. If not other forms of compensation, then positions, or quite likely, both.

      As you point out Observer, the left is incapable of rational thought.. Liberalism truly is a mental disorder..

      • Amanda Green says:

        Exactly, Scott. When you raise the minimum wage–whether it is voluntary as Amazon is doing or because of union demands or state intervention–you increase the costs to the employer. They will look for ways to recover those costs. Sometimes it is through raising prices. Sometimes it is through changing work hours or laying off workers. But they will not sit back and take a loss without first trying to make up for it. They aren’t in business to give handouts. They are in business to make money.

        • Russ Wood says:

          The South African ANC government thinks that businesses are for paying taxes, creating jobs, and employing people to the ‘demographic norm’. Profits? That’s “White Monopoly Capitalism” at work!

    • Amanda Green says:

      It is that knee-jerk reaction that bothers me the most. Where Amazon is concerned, too many respond in just that manner, no matter what the company is doing.

      Is Amazon without fault? Hell no. There is a lot about the company I don’t like, more that worries me. But it isn’t the root of all our economic woes, especially not in publishing.

  • GWB says:

    The culprit?
    Well, then the culprit that killed B&N and the other big name bookstores was… Amazon. For the exact same reason.
    Really huge size efficiencies really do work wonders on prices (usually).
    Of course, if those indie bookstores had innovated (they were much too conservative, even the proggie ones) in just the right way, they might have thrived.

    Those who aren’t sufferers of ADS are supporters of capitalism and invention.
    We worship at the altar of innovators and billionaires.
    Now, see, those aren’t the same thing. But, Amanda actually nails what they DO believe, vice what they say.
    I don’t want anyone worshiping anyone because they’re an inventor, or rich, or even a celebrity or a politician! But, supporting the billionaires’ (ones who actually made their money through innovation or invention or skills) right to innovate and make money is NOT the same as “worshiping” them. Some folks *do* worship them – and that’s unhealthy. As a matter of fact, it’s just as unhealthy as the covetousness required to be a communist.

    no longer worship at the altar of character and kindness.
    Now, looking at the very short bio of Galloway available at Wikipedia, he doesn’t appear to be a vocal prog.
    But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this is a funny critique for anyone on the left to support, since they’ve spent 50 years doing their damnedest to eliminate “character” from our society, and the last several years destroying “kindness” as a virtue.

    the tax breaks it enjoys
    Sheesh, there’s an entire post on this subject, along the lines Amanda touches on. Corporate tax breaks are terribly unfair in almost every case.

    My question is what is Orwellian about it?
    Well, Orwellian is a bad term, but a monopoly is NEVER a good thing. And Amazon is striving to essentially become that monopoly. And this is the age-old question in regulated free markets: how do you stop monopolies without picking winners and losers?

    Where were the objections to Walmart when it moved into towns and sold food, books, videos, music, auto parts, medicine and so much more?
    SAY WHAT?!?!?!?
    Where have you been the last few decades? Anti-WalMart sentiment was HUGE! Heck, lots of locales found ways to prevent them even building a store in their area (legally/constitutionally or not). And for all the same reasons they fling against Amazon.
    Amazon has the added issue of not even having stores in the area, so they “don’t employ any locals”. Yes, they *do* employ locals, but not nearly as broadly as a brick and mortar retail outlet.

    the death of Steve Jobs
    Hoo boy, the hyperbole is thick with that bit.
    But, then again, how many fanbois do you know? The ones who are waiting in line for the new iPhone at 0330, when the store opens at 0900? Yes, a larger-than-should-be percentage of our society has replaced religion with technology and celebrity and sports.

    Amazon is evil because it is mechanizing much of the work being done.
    This is a much bigger issue than Amazon. And it *is* a problem (because, unlike Star Trek, humans will not simply engage in artistic pursuits and then evolve into pure energy because we’ve eliminated toil and scarcity – nuh uh, ain’t gonna happen). But it needs to be thought over, under, and around (to paraphrase an author I frequently read), not stopped.

    Galloway’s conclusion is that we must break up Amazon.
    Well, a great many people feel that way because it seems to be becoming a monopoly. And monopolies are BAD. We think they’re bad in religion and in politics, and they’re bad in the economic realm, too.

    Now, the important question is: HOW DO WE DO THAT, without handing someone the power to simply pick winners and losers in the marketplace?

    how long before they go after Zuckerberg and Facebook or Sundar Pichai and Google, just to name a few?
    They ALSO have problems with being monopolistic tech powers. So, I’d say “not long at all”. As a matter of fact, a lot of conservatives have been talking about it for some time now.

    Otherwise, we just might wake up one day to find the only businesses around are those owned or operated by the government and the black market.
    Ironically, if an economic monopoly is left to itself, you will be in exactly the same position.
    One of the mistakes I see ‘conservatives’ make regularly is attributing altruism to business in its marketplace, when they would never attribute it to gov’t. They may have different goals, but they are just as susceptible to the frailty of the human condition as gov’t or religion, because they are made up of and run by men.

    I agree that “ADS” is a problem. But we need to understand that they are right in some ways. The problem is not letting the stupid blind us to handling the real issues.
    (This also goes for BLM, #meToo, and others, who identify real issues, then blow them out of all proportion.)

    • Amanda Green says:

      Good points, GWB, but I guess I wasn’t clear. I know there were anti-Walmart protests. Although, at least in my neck of the woods, those happened after Walmart moved into the area and small businesses started shutting down. However, those protesting weren’t the liberals we now see wanting to redistribute wealth, increase government regulation on businesses, etc. They were the average citizens who were looking out for the welfare of their local communities. It might have been different elsewhere, but here it was mainly conservatives and libertarians wanting to keep Walmart from getting a stronger foothold in town.

      As for understanding those with ADS are right in some ways, I do. If you’ve read any of my posts at MGC, you’ll see that I am not a complete fan of Amazon. However, I also believe in looking at the entire picture and much of what those suffering from ADS accuse Amazon of doing was already in the works long before Amazon was created.

      I am worried about the company being too big, too powerful, etc. But I worry about Zuckerberg, Google and others for the same reason. But then, I am also popping the corn and stocking up on the cold beverages as I watch the Left start to devour its own.

      • GWB says:

        Plenty of places tried blocking (sometimes successfully) WalMart because they are progressive havens. They want everyone buying artisan afghans to put over their knees while they sip soy lattes in the bookstore, reading beat whale poetry. And WalMart means dirty people who do things like plumbing and roofing, and need to buy inexpensive food to feed their six babies and their pitbulls.

        Oh yes, the anti-WalMart crowd is seething with hippies.

      • GWB says:

        As to popping the popcorn….

        The real problem with the left devouring their own is 1) they would really much rather drag us down and (like feuding clans of Scotsmen when an English happened by) will gladly turn to tearing us apart whenever possible, and 2) some largish percentage of them have the place wired to blow, and will bring down everything in their hatefulness.

        So, don’t use your hard hat to pop that corn; keep it on your head.

  • GWB says:

    Oh, and Amanda, please stop using the term “capitalism” when you mean “free markets” or “regulated free markets”.
    “Capitalism” is a marxist term which doesn’t accurately describe true market economics, particularly as they were originally practiced in this country (outside of slavery – that’s a whole other kettle of fish).

    • Amanda Green says:

      GWB, you know that and I know that but most folks don’t. Sometimes it is easier to use terms that are commonly accepted than to try to explain the difference. I will be more careful in the future.

      • GWB says:

        I think it’s an education thing we need to work on. The less we allow them to control our language, the better we can make our arguments and educate people into a better understanding of our principles.

  • “Where were the objections to Walmart when it moved into towns and sold food, books, videos, music, auto parts, medicine and so much more? No one objected then and few object now, ”

    Maybe there isn’t as much of it as there used to be, but there were lots of objections made, not dissimilar to the Amazon complaints today. To the extent such opposition to WalMart still exists, it’s more in the form of objections to “Big Box” stores in general.

  • Ian Rousdower says:

    I support you Amanda, and yes, you’re correct that publishing and retail did have preexisting intrinsic problems.

    One would understand however that it isn’t some silly derangement if you’d worked for the company for a couple of years. The poorly documented corruption and negative effects it is having on the way business is conducted is not a blown out of proportion concern.

    “…much of what those suffering from ADS accuse Amazon of doing was already in the works long before Amazon was created.”

    Past bad behavior of others does not justify more bad behavior. And unlike other businesses that are smaller and growing much less rapidly, the levels of bad behavior at Amazon are increasing quadratically.

    “It could have turned a deaf ear on the demands from some employees”

    Instead Amazon did a bait and switch by eliminating stocks and bonuses in order to pay for raising wages. They should be praised for this?

    Like Google, Amazon is a business. But also like Google, to a large degree the company is the Left and possesses the same indefensible qualities.

    BTW I am also a pro-business, pro-small government, conservative free market enthusiast.

    • GWB says:

      Past bad behavior of others does not justify more bad behavior.
      True. But it might justify not getting hysterical over the “more”, which is Amanda’s argument.

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