Have you ever noticed how corporations, like people, will say one thing, and live their lives, or conduct their business, in an entirely different fashion?
I’m talking about the notoriously liberal tech companies like Amazon or Apple trying to impose a social agenda that will place new burdens on taxpayers, or will force future competitors from the market.
Not too long ago, I posted a piece on the city of Seattle planning to vote on a head tax for businesses making over $20 million a year. The idea is that the money will be used to combat homelessness. I’m not going to re-hash the post here, but will note that Amazon got so upset by the notion of the head tax that it halted construction on a new office building that would house 7000 people.
Everybody from the socialists on the Seattle City Council to various unions got really mad at Amazon. But, like the honey badger, Amazon don’t care.
Seattle passed the head tax earlier this week; Amazon is backing out of its decision to house 7000 in Seattle. Amazon is actually behaving in a financially rational fashion. Why pay a tax when you don’t have to?
Amazon is making a lot of rational business decisions these days—one of the biggest is its new headquarters, HQ2. Hundreds of cities and municipalities across this great land packaged up their most attractive incentive plans, touted their quality of life, and laid it out in front of Jeff Bezos like an offering to a god.
Amazon narrowed the list to 20, and has just finished visiting those cities before making a final decision. Arlington, Texas got rejected yesterday, despite offering nearly $1 billion in incentives. The city learned it was ruled out after being invited to give an in-person pitch to Amazon. It had offered incentives estimated at $921 million, including a 10-year property tax abatement and a grant for the hiring of Arlington residents. The city proposed the 200-plus-acre Globe Life Park, the soon-to-be-former home of the Texas Rangers baseball team, as the potential site. To no avail.
Apparently, Amazon is looking for a hipper, more urban setting.
Amazon isn’t the only tech company that’s looking to move (or add) a headquarters type campus. Apple, very quietly, is on the lookout for a place where it can house up to 20,000 people.
Unlike Amazon, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company isn’t holding a beauty contest for the new facility. So, quietly, Apple has been looking at places like Northern Virginia, the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, Austin, and Chicago among other places.
With the exception of Northern Virginia, the cost of living and doing business in those places is much less than Silicon Valley, and there are already well-developed high-tech cultures in place.
Hmmm. Trying to find a place to do business that won’t tax you out the wazoo so you can hire more people and create more goods and services. That’s a pretty rational decision to me.
Which brings me to the point of the piece—acting rationally when it comes to your bottom line, but promoting public policies that can keep competitors out of your market space; and may limit your future customers from actually affording your product. So, not rational.
That kind of business may work in the short term. When Amazon employs people that are generally well-paid, it’s a great idea to promote a $15/hr minimum wage. Because, of course, YOU pay YOUR employees more than that! Your employees can afford the extra cost on the occasional family night out, right?
Really, how’s that working out, Seattle? Your city has lost nearly 2000 jobs on the low end of the wage scale, and those that are still working are out about $125/month. No wonder people are getting kicked out of their homes and pitching tents.
But, hey, $15/hr is a living wage! And Amazon wants everyone to be forced by law to pay it.
Here’s another one—paid parental leave. Facebook, Google, Apple, and Yahoo offer their employees very generous parental leave packages. For example, all new parents at Facebook receive four months of paid leave, as well as $4,000 in “baby cash.” Apple will even pay for women to freeze and store their eggs.
I think this is great! If these companies want to give their employees incentives like this, then have at it. Except, they want YOU to do the same thing. All of these tech companies believe that every company should be mandated by law to provide exactly the same thing.
All these mandates just make it harder for other competitors who aren’t flush with cash to even begin to compete. And they make it harder for other businesses to expand, or even to continue to supply their goods and services at reasonable prices.
These tech giants seem to have a utopian view of society, and they are willing to spend millions of dollars to make sure you pay for it.
It’s not just the social justice warrior worldview imposing costs on the average human being; it’s also the outright demands for corporate welfare. Amazon gets offered billions in incentives from municipalities to locate a new headquarters.
Those municipalities will be adding costs in order to service the new campus, and will be losing a portion of their tax revenues to do it, right? Who pays for that? You do. You pay for it with a reduction in fire and police service (the departments don’t get expanded enough to cover the additional population). You pay for it in extra fees for a dog license or alarm permit. You pay for it in higher property taxes.
All the while, you have these tech companies “nudging” you to support other policies that will further deprive you of privacy, rights, and cash.
So, if Amazon wants to go Gault and leave downtown Seattle, I applaud them. And I also applaud them not choosing Arlington, TX as their new HQ2. I’m sure the residents of Arlington are happy they won’t be spending $1 billion on Amazon.
Since it seems that Apple & Amazon are choosing to vote with their feet by leaving the high cost Left Coast Socialist Utopias. However, it also looks like that wherever Apple or Amazon choose to expand will most likely be forced into policies that will hurt their residents, either through increased tax burden or increased cost burden on businesses.
It all makes perfect sense from a company’s bottom line. Not only will Amazon & Apple operate more profitably, but they will also unload the costs of their social justice philosophies on the taxpayer.
I hope they don’t mess with Texas.