Why Amazon Is Just As Bad As Facebook
Recently I wrote about a certain god-like dictator who has risen to prominence: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. You would be forgiven if you thought I was talking about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, for he is just as powerful, another god unto himself. Amazon is a parasite that is sucking the vitality out of our local communities. Let’s look at the facts:
Amazon was founded in 1995. Initially it collected and paid sales tax in only five states, even though 45 states have state-wide sales tax laws. This gave it an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar stores operating in those states – it could price its products lower because it was not paying the tax. This ended only in 2016, after a Supreme Court ruling told Amazon to stop doing this.
Amazon attacked booksellers, excluding them from its platform if they did not give in to its pricing demands. Like Facebook and Google, Amazon tracks consumers on the web and uses algorithms to stoke their purchasing behavior, to its advantage.
Amazon has launched its own private labels selling popular products that it also carries. In effect, Amazon used its distribution channel to study its competitors, then copied them and offered identical or similar products.
And now, Amazon is leveraging its online power to open physical stores that will spell the death knell of many retailers that already have seen their sales erode because of Amazon.
How does this affect you? Well, have you noticed how Amazon sponsors your kid’s soccer league, or supports the local Salvation Army, United Way, and other charitable organizations that are trying to solve problems in our community? Yeah, neither have I. Support for local improvements comes from local business. When we stop supporting them and send our dollars to Amazon, we are depriving our own community of the glue that holds it together.
What about AmazonSmile, the behemoth’s supposedly generous gifts to charities? Let’s do the math:
• Since 2013, when Amazon began the program, it has donated $215 million to charity. Those are Amazon’s own numbers (you can see them here: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/community/215-million-donated-to-charities-through-amazonsmile).
• During that same time period, Amazon sold $1.483 trillion.
• $215 million is 0.015% – fifteen one-thousandths of one percent of Amazon’s sales during that time.
How generous is that? Hmm, maybe not so much. Amazon needs to be reined in, for the good of us all.
Call or email Congress one more time as together we fight the forces from the dark side.
Patrick J. Wood