The richest man in the world, who heads one of the world’s largest and most lucrative corporations, is also filthy rich in arrogance and pomposity.
Jeff Bezos, the chief executive officer of Amazon, demanded that a city’s officials kowtow to him by taking billions of dollars from its taxpayers and handing the bundle to his retail behemoth. In essence, he was soliciting a bribe to locate an Amazon headquarters in this particular city. But—lo and behold!—the city mustered its collective integrity and pride to say no to his devil’s bargain.
The city I’m bragging about is not New York City, which made national news in mid-February when it shoved away Amazon’s attempt to fleece $3 billion from its taxpayers. Rather, I’m saluting San Antonio, Texas, which in 2017 simply refused to play Bezos’s con game when he first rolled it out.
While 238 cities and states groveled in front of the diminutive potentate, staging dog-and-pony shows in the perverse hope that he might choose their taxpayers to rip off, San Antonio’s mayor and a top county official sent a “Dear Jeff” letter kissing Bezos goodbye.
San Antonio’s mayor and a top county official sent a “Dear Jeff” letter kissing Bezos goodbye.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff wrote that a key criteria for awarding any incentives was whether a company is “a good ‘corporate citizen.’ ” They then gently chided Amazon, noting that its so-called search for a new home was a money-grubbing scam. Surely, they said, such a data-driven corporation had “already selected its preferred location,” thus, “this public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war amongst states and cities.”
That is the core issue here, which the media has mostly missed, instead slamming the Big Apple with snide headlines like “New York Hates Amazon.” No, the activists who spooked Bezos hate throwing billions of scarce public dollars at a pompous corporate prince who neither needs nor deserves such tribute.
City and state officials everywhere need to stop bidding against each other in the corporate bribe racket. They should follow the example of New York City and San Antonio in pushing back against these immoral bribery schemes and pushing out a corporate bully that considers itself untouchable royalty.
These sweetheart deals between corporate and government officials are almost always consummated in the dark. But New Yorkers ended the sordid affair between Jeff Bezos and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and—whoa!—even jaded New Yorkers were aghast at the buck naked ugliness they saw.
In a city with a housing crisis, a broken subway system, and other needs crying for public investment, taxpayer funds were to be doled out to a monopolistic, tax-dodging, anti-union global colossus that raked in more than $11 billion in profits last year. Bezos, who has squirreled away a personal fortune of $137 billion, was even to be given his own helipad, rather than having to be chauffeured in his limousine through New York City traffic or, God forbid, take a subway.
Yet, almighty Amazon turned out to be a fraidy-cat, hissing furiously and scampering away when ordinary people and grassroots leaders dared to denounce