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On the Demise of Amazon’s HQ2 in NYC

So Amazon just canceled their planned NYC 2nd Headquarters, because of local resistance. A lot of people are rushing to frame this as “local socialists hate capitalism”. I would argue that it is much better understood as a question of fairness and the integrity of capitalism. Why should Amazon get a deal thousands of times better than any that existing local business get? Why should the government┬ápick winners (Amazon getting to operate in a high-tax area without having to pay any taxes). The deal was a bad one for everyone except Amazon. It would have been yet another example of upward redistribution, taking money from local businesses and landowners and giving it to a monopolist corporation controlled by the world’s richest man. And what is Amazon going to do instead? Quietly expand their existing presence in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and without the giant taxpayer giveaway. Proving that even Amazon doesn’t need incentives to locate in NYC. Like other capitalists, they just want to grab all they can get from the public. I’m glad the public is waking up to all the ways that is a bad deal.

When negotiating trade agreements, there is something called a “most favored nation” status, that basically says that any deal any other country negotiates, the “most favored” country also gets automatically. I propose we have something like that for economic incentives offered by states and municipalities. If a manufacturing job in Wisconsin is worth $400,000, then anyone who creates one (including all the existing local businesses) should be be eligible for that amount, not just the foreign conglomerate who promised 13,000 of them. If a white collar job in Queens is worth $120,000, then anyone who creates one should get that, not just the megacorp who promised 25,000 of them (non-binding promises in both cases, FWIW). Oh, you say, the state/city would go broke if it paid everyone that kind of money just for doing what they would do anyway. Really? Then why are they giving that kind of money only to certain favored companies and not the ones who are already invested in the community? The community should insist that existing businesses get “most favored nation” status on economic incentives. Level the playing field.

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