Amazon's new HQ2
We all know the tech behemoths (Amazon, Google, Facebook etc) pay basically nothing to contribute to the infrastructure and society they rely on so much.
What's often ignored is that governments love to help them do so.
Amazon is building a second 'HQ2' away from its current Seattle home, and US cities are throwing their citizen's hard earned money at its feet in attempt to entice it to build in their home town. It's like some sort of desperate, pathetic marriage proposal the most popular kid in school from literally everyone else. Except the popular kid isn't popular, and he already nicks everyone's lunch money and he not a kid but one of the most powerful corporations in the world.
Amazon pays just 0.0077% tax on its European revenues currently. It has UK sales totalling 4bn, and yet when queried by the UK public accounts committee, claimed that it didn't actually have any sales in the UK. I don't know about you, but I'm now confused about where all that stuff I order from amazon comes from if it's not amazon? It certainly looks like it has the amazon logo on. Certainly smells like amazon. Hmm...
Amazon received 238 offers from different cities ranging from $1.3bn in tax cuts in Chicago, to a strange scheme in Fresno, California that would give over control of spending the pathetic amount of tax Amazon pays to…well, amazon itself. Not really a tax then is it.
Boston have even offered to provide a 'city taskforce' of city employees who would work to protect amazon's interests in the city.
That's all very lovely, it's not like a 'city taskforce' could be doing other things in Massachusetts, it's not like there are 17,500 homeless people across the state, a doubling from 1990 and 2/3 of them in families with children. Yeah, it makes sense really, wouldn't want old Bezos to lose out on another few billion. Much more important.
More than 1/10 of amazon's employees in Ohio are on food stamps despite having jobs at Amazon. Looks like the nine figure sums of incentives you've given Amazon so far have really paid off Ohio?
This is all especially humorous when you note that Jeff Bezos (head of amazon and recent richest man in the world) loves to talk about a new 'golden era' of technology with plenty for all.
We really need to get our priorities straight, either we want these tech giants to be a positive social force or not. I love tech, and I love private enterprise, but it does need a helping hand to keep it's morals straight. Amazon, apple, google, they all need the stuff taxes are for, they use the roads so they can provide essential services like previous day delivery, they need the state provided health insurance (oh wait, sorry) to pick people up when they are broken from working inhumane shifts for inhumane pay, they need government education systems to teach their employees how to innovate and do more clever things that make the CEOs richer.
The federal system has broken down; all states are just competing in a race to the bottom to lick the shoes of massive corporations. We need collaboration to beat the big boys and secure a fair deal for all. Not only does this need to work at a federal level, it needs to work at an international level. If everyone agrees on a fair set of rules then the likes of Starbucks, google etc have nowhere to hide.
Oh look, Apple is building a second HQ, look forward to seeing where they choose!
Disclaimer: I do really love tech and I think the innovations we see are the most exciting things on the planet, I don't think large corporations are inherently bad, it makes sense they would try to pay less tax as they are profit maximising machines. I think the fault is really with the weakness of a international and federal collaboration, and weak-kneed politicians.