By Maureen Callahan:
New York Post October 9, 2018: When Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon would be raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour last week, the reception was rapturous. The Seattle Times called it “the just thing.” “Good for them,” said President Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow. “I’m in favor of higher wages.” Bloomberg called it proof that “an even higher minimum wage is probably safe for big, productive cities.” Senator Bernie Sanders, a chief Bezos antagonist, called it “enormously important.” “Unequivocally good news,” said The Washington Post.
The latter is owned by Jeff Bezos, an all-too-easily forgotten point these days. Because for all the questions to follow this announcement — Why now? What is Amazon eliminating to pay for this? How much praise does Bezos, recently crowned the World’s Richest Man, deserve while paying, as of 2017, a median Amazon income of $28,446? — we are not asking the real one.
When did we become The United States of Amazon?
Author, entrepreneur and NYU business professor Scott Galloway has emerged as one of Amazon’s fiercest critics. At last month’s Recode Code Commerce, Galloway gave a 45-minute talkon the future of retail that savaged Amazon and warned of the threats the company poses not just economically but philosophically and morally.
“I believe our society is effectively going through this very uncomfortable transition that is bad for our youth, bad for America and bad for the planet where we no longer worship at the altar of character and kindness,” he said. “We worship at the altar of innovators and billionaires.”
Galloway calls this “a perversion” that has occurred without our true realization. And Amazon, he says, is more responsible than any other tech giant.
In his best-selling book “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google,” Galloway cites some arresting statistics: Far fewer U.S. households have a gun than Amazon Prime, by 30 to 64 percent. More Americans have Prime than voted in 2016 (55 percent), or earn $50,000 or more a year (55 percent), or go to church (51 percent). He calls Amazon’s ability to woo Prime subscribers at a $119 yearly cost the equivalent of “entering into a monogamous relationship” with its consumers, who as of 2016 spent, on average, $193 per month. (Non-Prime members average $138 per month.)
From 2006 to 2016 Amazon’s stock price growth surged by 1,910 percent, destroying Sears, J.C. Penney, Kmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target and Walmart.
Perhaps most importantly: Since the Great Recession, Amazon has paid just $1.4 billion in corporate taxes compared to Walmart’s $64 billion.