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Beyond Amazon: Why not Amazon?

The Amazon Effect

This page touches on a few of Amazon's recent controversies. With their anti-union stance, growing e-commerce monopoly, and flagrant privacy violations, it might be time to limit Amazon's reach into your life.

Amazon's Local Effects

When Amazon decided to build their HQ2 in New York City, they were met with fierce opposition from local organizers due to their anti-union stance. Political leaders such as Bill DeBlasio have lamented Amazon's choice to bolt as an economic loss. However according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, this was likely the best choice for New York:

"What this report finds: When Amazon opens a new fulfillment center, the host county gains roughly 30 percent more warehousing and storage jobs but no new net jobs overall, as the jobs created in warehousing and storage are likely offset by job losses in other industries.

Why it matters: State and local governments give away millions in tax abatements, credits, exemptions, and infrastructure assistance to lure Amazon warehouses but don’t get a commensurate “return” on that investment.

What we can do about it: Rather than spending public resources on an ineffective strategy to boost local employment (luring Amazon fulfillment centers), state and local governments should invest in public services (particularly in early-childhood education and infrastructure) that are proven to spur long-term economic development."

Amazon's Growing Influence

Amazon & Taxation

"Amazon, the ubiquitous purveyor of two-day delivery of just about everything, nearly doubled its profits to $11.2 billion in 2018 from $5.6 billion the previous year and, once again, didn’t pay a single cent of federal income taxes.

The company’s newest corporate filing reveals that, far from paying the statutory 21 percent income tax rate on its U.S. income in 2018, Amazon reported a federal income tax rebate of $129 million. For those who don’t have a pocket calculator handy, that works out to a tax rate of negative 1 percent. The fine print of Amazon’s income tax disclosure shows that this achievement is partly due to various unspecified “tax credits” as well as a tax break for executive stock options."

Amazon has a long and troubling relationship with taxation. While Amazon pays state-level taxes in many places, that was not always the case. Learn more about their refusals to submit to tax collection through, "initiating lawsuits, threatening to close warehouses, and severing ties with local affiliates" via the article below.

TEHRANI, S. (2014). Welcome to the Amazon: Leading Online Retail from Local Tax Avoidance into Your Backyard. The Tax Lawyer, 67(4), 875-908. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24247834

Other Issues

Amazon & Privacy

Recently, Amazon has come under fire for using unintentional customer input to improve the Amazon Echo's "always on" vocal recognition system. UT Dallas is unrolling a plan to put Amazon Echos in residential halls:

"Their practicality notwithstanding, the Echos also raise serious privacy concerns. They are 'always on,' meaning that the devices are always recording and uploading audio to Amazon’s cloud servers. At a meeting with students on April 25, an Amazon representative confirmed that in addition to raw audio, each Echo will also upload a unique device identifier and location data, including the specific room it is located in. Although the Echos will have a microphone button that can disable voice recognition, the only way to turn the devices themselves off will be by unplugging them. The Office of Information Technology further stated that it would be notified if a device was unplugged, and they may disallow students from unplugging the devices to avoid any technical issues."

Read more about privacy issues.