Opinion:‌ ‌Bezos,‌ ‌Amazon‌ ‌do‌ ‌more‌ ‌harm‌ ‌than‌ ‌good‌


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The United States’ economy has come to rely on Amazon, but is that a good thing?

Elizabeth Perston, Magazine Editor

The United States’ economy has come to rely on Amazon. This is not solely because of its size, or even the sheer number of people it employs, but rather the fact that it’s become a facet of everyday American life.

In fact, Amazon has become so wildly successful and relied upon by America that it is destroying the local businesses that once built the country’s economy.

At its core, it’s a matter of convenience for customers. Why drive half an hour to the nearest mall when practically anything you want is a click away on Amazon? Long gone is the appeal of fighting through crowded stores, as brick and mortar stores are slowly replaced with convenient digital shopping carts.

Where’s the justification, though? Amazon has effectively taken over the economy, but only with the help of the American people. So how do consumers defend their part in killing off the small businesses of America?

Well, there’s always the fact that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, bought the Washington Post in October 2013. 

The move was out of character for Bezos, who claimed he did it to save a quickly dying industry. Such an investment painted Bezos as the knight in shining armor swooping in to save democracy.

Could it really be that cut and dry though? The answer is a resounding no. Not only are there mixed opinions of Bezos’ real motives for buying the Post, but there’s also the matter of how little the billionaire pays his employees.

Not only are there mixed opinions of Bezos’ real motives for buying the Post, but there’s also the matter of how little the billionaire pays his employees.”

As of 2019, a living wage for a family of four in America was $16.54 per hour. This amount goes up steadily each year, while Amazon’s minimum wage remains at a stagnant $15 an hour. 

Amazon workers are not teenagers looking for a summer job, or college students interested in working part-time. They are people who need this job as a steady source of income, and they are being failed by a man who makes six figures per minute. 

So, no, Jeff Bezos is not saving democracy. He could rescue every failing newspaper in the country and still wouldn’t do anything but lead democracy to its demise until he makes an effort to fix America’s gross wealth disparity.

It would take 2.8 million years for the average working-class American to reach Bezos’ net worth. If that’s the case, why are those same working-class Americans so quick to support the man who exploits them?

It all goes back to the idea of extreme convenience and low prices. Plus, many consumers simply don’t know where else to shop now. Amazon has become a staple in American culture, and it’s grown increasingly difficult to avoid supporting the company.

The sad truth is that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism. Sure, shoppers can switch from Amazon-owned Whole Foods to Walmart. But then they’re simply putting money into the pockets of another billionaire and potentially hurting the livelihood of Amazon workers.

And sure, shoppers could start looking at local farmers’ markets and small grocery stores. But then the entire lower class is cut off of ethical consumption because of the inflated prices needed to sustain local businesses. 

There is no winning, and there won’t be until the greater system changes.