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Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right To Be Angry About Amazon’s New HQ


Amazon announced it will split its second headquarters between two locations — one in Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb just outside of Washington D.C., and Long Island City, New York. Both are rapidly gentrifying areas with housing prices on the rise. The retail giant announced it expects to receive “$1.5 billion in tax incentives for the 4 million square feet of office space” and expects to hire an estimated 50,000 employees to staff its new headquarters, NBC News reports.

In response to the announcement, Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went on a tweet storm decrying taxpayer-funded cronyism and expressing concerns about how her constituents’ communities will be affected.

The democratic socialist from the Bronx is right to be outraged about the corporate welfare that threatens to price her constituents out of their own housing market.

Instead of quietly doing research and deciding on an area to put its second headquarters, Amazon announced it was going to create another hub and was looking for a place to move, sending cities into a feeding frenzy. Stonecrest, Georgia offered up a portion of the city to be renamed “Amazon” and to institute Bezos as the town’s permanent mayor. Boston offered the company a team of government employees, whose salaries would be paid with tax dollars, to exclusively represent the company’s interests.

By hyping every detail of its move and all the jobs it would create, Amazon created an environment in which politicians actually competed with one another over who was willing to cheat taxpayers more. The bidding process also gave away loads of information about cities’ transit systems and real estate markets to the company, Wired reports.

This isn’t the first cronyistic stunt Amazon has pulled. After Sen. Bernie Sanders called attention to the fact that many of Amazon’s employees relied on food stamps and other government programs to get by, the company announced it was raising its lowest wage. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos then promptly lobbied Congress to increase the federal minimum wage in an effort to force his company’s competitors, like Target and Walmart, to raise wages for their employees. In other words, Bezos attempted to use Congress as a tool to disadvantage his competitors.

John Stossel explains this in greater detail around the 3:20 minute mark in the video below.

Ocasio-Cortez Is Right To Question Amazon’s Effects

Who will benefit from these tax incentives? Certainly not taxpayers. It’s questionable whether the people living in the areas surrounding Amazon’s HQ2 will see any positives from the move.

Will Amazon hire locals? If not, how will the influx of new people impact the already astronomically expensive housing markets of the areas surrounding New York City and Washington D.C.? Will middle-class residents who are footing the bill for the retail chain’s special privileges be forced to relocate?

Using government to drive out generations-old communities in favor of wealthy coastal elites with six-figure salaries,which is the most likely scenario, is a perverse misuse of power. Ocasio-Cortez is right to be skeptical of a company that has a track record like Amazon’s.

Some conservatives chided Ocasio-Cortez’s critiques, saying that she failed to list any upsides to Amazon’s move. A company creating jobs and providing opportunities to more Americans is certainly something that should be applauded. But if those jobs cannot be sustained without tax incentives or other taxpayer-funded perks, how valuable are they really? Do we really want to live in a country where certain companies are treated differently under the law, are given special tax rates and perks, while others are not? Is it fair to compel local taxpayers to contribute to a scheme that will price them out of their own neighborhoods?

Asking these questions is important, as the answers help determine what kind of society we will live in. Ocasio-Cortez is right — we all ought to question the motives of a company that has a track record of abusing its power. And we ought to choose representatives, at the local and national level, who will serve the interests of their constituents over those of corporate hucksters.