Big Tech: Amazon vs. the Left
Almost three months after its dramatic HQ2 announcement, Amazon is trying hard to woo wary New Yorkers, said Elizabeth Kim and Jim O’Grady in New York’s Gothamist.com. Amazon and New York City officials have gone on “full-court press” to quell the public backlash to the plan. Presented with fanfare as the culmination of a contest between 238 candidates, the company’s new hub in New York City—one of two winners, together with Arlington, Va., a Washington suburb—has turned into a headache for the city and the retail juggernaut. Instead of gratitude for 25,000 planned jobs, Amazon has been met with “sustained public outcry over the size of deal’s tax incentives,” which add up to $2 billion. Amazon’s foes note “the irony of subsidizing one of the world’s richest companies,” and the new headquarters has become a flash point in the debate over the growing power of the biggest tech companies.
Amazon, with the rest of Big Tech, is facing unprecedented scrutiny from the newly emboldened Left, said David McCabe in Axios.com. Progressive Democrats “are gravitating toward the argument that big corporations have benefited from their innovations while working people have paid a high price.” Stars of the Left such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ro Khanna—whose district, notably, covers Silicon Valley—have hammered Amazon over its market power and treatment of warehouse and delivery workers. The company has become a potent symbol of American inequality heading toward the 2020 elections. But don’t think Amazon will be cowed. It’s moving fast to head off attacks, sometimes by co-opting the liberal agenda, as it did by raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. We’ve seen these battle lines before, in the Democrats’ years of skirmishing with Walmart. “Walmart responded aggressively, and so has Amazon.”
In Virginia, Amazon’s road has been a lot easier than in New York, said Robert McCartney in The Washington Post. The Virginia House this week took up the package of tax benefits offered to the retailer, and after just nine minutes of debate “voted overwhelmingly to give Amazon up to $750 million in incentives.” Only two delegates spoke up against the package, complaining that it would raise housing costs.
That Amazon is popular in Virginia “doesn’t surprise us,” said the Roanoke, Va., Times in an editorial. We’re not in northern Virginia, which was lucky enough to get the new headquarters. But even in southwestern Virginia, where this newspaper is based, Amazon is wildly popular. Polling shows that more than 90 percent of people here support the company. “Amazon may not benefit us directly, but we are naturally inclined to think warmly of jobs, period.” It’s tiring to watch politicians in New York City and Seattle gripe about tech companies overrunning their cities. We get why Amazon didn’t locate here: We don’t have 25,000 highly skilled people ready to go to work immediately. But we do have 75,000 college students, and we don’t like watching them leave. So, New York and Seattle, if you think tech companies are wrecking your cities, send them here. For us, listening to “all the anti-Amazon fervor” in places where people think they have too many tech jobs is “like watching two rich people argue.” ■