As Blasio and Cuomo bathe themselves in pride for securing a win for New York, us common citizens are weeping that Amazon will be opening its headquarters in Long Island City. Small business owners, local residents, and tax budgets will be bearing the true cost of Amazon’s HQ. The replacement of Five Points (an artistic space) with high-end, luxurious buildings marks a turning point for LIC, as Amazon’s new headquarters escalates the city’s journey toward complete gentrification.
But this isn’t about gentrification and the loss of art and culture to large corporations. It’s about the fact that we have been brainwashed to make room for large corporations assuming that this will open up more job opportunities. Corporate welfare is an illusion, a magic trick, sleight of hand, disguised as a generous beneficiary for the public. But at the end of the day, you and I will not pocket those millions.
A study conducted by Policy Matters Ohio found that more than seven hundred Amazon employees receive food stamps, and the median Amazon worker earns about $29,000, annually. On the other hand, Jeff Bezos—founder of Amazon—might have only banked $76,000 in income in 2017, but if we take his stocks, and net worth into consideration Bezos has earned $6.54 billion a month, more than $1.5 billion a week, and more than $215 million a day for the last year. Before we begin to compare and contrast wealth, race, and luck of the seven hundred employees and Bezos, let me clarify that our tax dollars—paid to Amazon—are far greater than those going to food stamps. According to Good Jobs First, a non-profit that tracks state tax breaks, since 2000, Amazon has received $1.115 billion in tax breaks in 129 communities in the U.S., rocketing past the previous leader in this category: Walmart. Food stamp spending is a tiny portion of that in comparison—in 2012, only 2% of overall government spending. Need more numbers? We spend 19% of the U.S. budget on defense (war in Afghanistan, Iraq, military equipment, etc). About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs (food stamps, housing, homeless shelters). $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. The government spent nearly 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.
When we give billions to bail out farmers—it’s called being fair. When we give billions to bail out banks—it’s good for the economy. When we give trillions to billionaires and corporations—it’s good for America. But when we need healthcare, homes for veterans, social security for the elderly, and… food, it’s a handout? Amazon is a prime example of why we need to amend tax policies regarding large corporations. Walmart, McDonalds, Amazon are all doing more damage than good. It about time we stop giving billionaires handouts.
I think I just found out the magician’s secret.