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No, They Don't Care: Amazon's $15 Gambit

Prometheus · business · opinion · 10/24/2020 · edited

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Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
Last year, Amazon raised its internal minimum wage to $15 an hour.1 Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a public letter “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead.”1

The move was made amidst criticism that Amazon was underpaying its staff into requiring government welfare despite having a job.2 Even Bernie Sanders, who introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies, or BEZOS (I mean, sure) Act, praised them “for doing exactly the right thing.”3

And that’s great. Amazon is a huge, wealthy company. Owned by the wealthiest person,4 Amazon is the 2nd largest private employer in the United States.5 Since they can evidently afford paying their 798,000 employees $15 an hour, it’s great that they did so.

They didn’t stop there.

Amazon also announced they would start lobbying the federal government to raise the federal minimum wage.

According to Business Insider “[Bezos] is also directing Amazon's lobbying team to start advocating for a federal increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”6

That little piece of trivia makes this news a lot less wholesome and a lot more sinister.

If it was only recently that Amazon, the world’s largest online marketplace, felt they could offer their employees $15 an hour, how are the small ma-and-pa shops that have been struggling for years supposed to adapt?7 The reality is, while many workers would benefit from a minimum wage increase, many small businesses and retail chains have been drowning, and a $15 minimum wage would be sure to sink them and put their workers out of a job.

Apparently, Amazon wasn’t putting them out of business fast enough, so they need to enlist the state’s help.

Amazon is no stranger to influencing our democratic processes for business purposes. In 2019 alone, they spent $17 million to lobby Washington.8

Make no mistake. Amazon is not advocating a minimum wage raise because they care about workers. They’re doing it because they know it will kill their competition, allowing them to expand their empire.

Sources

1) https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181002005317/en/

2) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bernie-sanders-amazon-walmart-with-100-tax/

3) https://www.businessinsider.com/bernie-sanders-praises-jeff-bezos-on-raising-amazon-minimum-wage-2018-10

4) https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/

5) https://fortune.com/fortune500/2020/search/?f500_%20employees=desc

6) https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-lobbies-for-15-wage-weapon-over-walmart-target-2018-10

7) https://www.lendingtree.com/business/small/failure-rate/#:~:text=According%20to%20data%20from%20the,failure%20rates%20are%20fairly%20consistent.

8) https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/01/22/amazon-facebook-google-lobbying-2019/

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