08/10/2018

No, Annie Lowrey, Taxpayers Didn’t Give Bezos His Wealth

John Tamny, RealClearPolitics

In September of 2017, the New York Times reported that Amazon “employed 300,000 people globally by its 20th year as a public company, the fastest any American company has reached that mark.”  This stat came to mind while contemplating Annie Lowrey’s recent effort to cast Jeff Bezos’s immense wealth in a negative light.  While she takes care to acknowledge some of Bezos’s herculean achievements, Lowrey contends that Bezos didn’t build an amazing corporation staffed by the wildly talented as much as policy failure, taxpayer generosity and worker exploitation combined to make Amazon great.  

If Lowrey is to be believed, Amazon corralled its workforce through intimidation, near-indentured servitude, and poverty-inducing thrift, only to leave the bill for employees who endure pay that is below the U.S.’s “living wage” to taxpayers in the form of “policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” Bezos’s supposed parsimony is the driver of Amazon’s sweatshop-style conditions for workers who, according to Lowrey, suffer a pay gap relative to Amazon executives that is “shocking.” Apparently Amazon’s employees aren’t as shocked.  As of this writing, there’s no evidence that those in the company’s employ are trailed by the gun-toting on the way in to work each day.   

Considering the excitement within North American cities when Amazon announced plans to create a 2nd headquarters, city mayors and councils are similarly not taken aback. They see winning HQ2 and all the opportunity it represents for their job-hungry constituents as the path to electoral permanence.  The clamor for HQ2 is a reminder that the immense gap between the “richest” and their allegedly exploited employees obscures how well those at the wrong end of the curve are compensated in a relative sense.  Lowrey knows rather well how privileged are those who get to work for the superrich as her employment at The Atlantic attests.  Maybe she forgot.  Needless to say, much of the rest of the world’s population (and just about every journalist) would give anything to work for Amazon or her employer.  Life is a quite a bit more certain when your boss is a billionaire. 

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4,000 Years Of Price Control

Tablets, said to be 200 years older than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi ... show that the ancient kingdom of Eshnunna had wage control and price control. The news ought not to have come as a surprise. For the code of Hammurabi itself (unearthed in 1902), which was promulgated earlier than 2000 B.C., fixed prices, wages, interest rates, and fees. This makes price control at least about 4,000 years old. ...

 

Ironically, it is those who now wish to return to this ancient totalitarian device who are fondest of calling themselves “progressives.” They are also fond of saying that those who believe in economic liberty “are living in the nineteenth century.” These controlists have yet to learn that they themselves are still living, as the discoveries in Babylonia attest, in the nineteenth century—B.C.!

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