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Kurt Vonnegut Makes The Case Against Amazon

Add Kurt Vonnegut’s reasons to the pile of why you take the extra time and energy and money to support your local retailer.


Like many Americans, our family is concerned about how Amazon has so negatively affected the country. The more we learn about how Amazon does business, the more it repulses us.

The tech giant uses the data from the products that sell best on their site to launch competing products. It uses its general market advantage to undercut competitors until they are forced out of business, at which point the retail giant can jack up the price.

It has contributed to the destruction of retail outlets in towns and cities across America. It engages in digital book burning of its political opponents, such as Abigail Shrier and Ryan Anderson. They pulled the excellent documentary about Supreme Court associate justice Clarence Thomas.

Yes, it’s convenient, but at what cost to the country, our communities, and our lives?

Yesterday, I realized I needed some paper for my printer. As my husband went to the local store to purchase some, he kidded me about my extreme anti-Amazon sentiments. I reminded him that he was helping the local shop stay in business, and keep its employees, and that he’d enjoy much-needed interaction with his fellow humans.

“You sound like Kurt Vonnegut,” he said, telling me about an essay from his last book published before he died in 2007.

Vonnegut talked about the relevant portion of the essay in an interview with NPR’s David Brancaccio. It’s about him telling his wife he’s headed out to buy an envelope.

KURT VONNEGUT: Oh, she says well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.

I meet a lot of people. And, see some great-looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around.

And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: Well you wrote in the book about this. You write; What makes being alive almost worthwhile–


DAVID BRANCACCIO: –for me besides music, was all the Saints I met who could be anywhere. By ‘Saints’ I meant people who behaved decently, in a strikingly indecent society.

KURT VONNEGUT: Yes. Their acts of kindness and reason. On a very– on a face-to-face. On a very local.

The last year was very good for Jeff Bezos and his companies, including Amazon and the Washington Post. It was a catastrophe for Americans who need to work and interact with people, see their faces and enjoy their smiles.

Add Vonnegut’s reasons to the pile of why you take the extra time and energy and money to support your local retailer. Go check out some babes and wave at the fire engine. Meet the dogs and breathe the fresh air.