by Chris McGinty
I’m not a fan of billion dollar corporations in a political climate where they can pay as much money as they want to as many candidates as they want to get their “speech” heard. I discussed Amazon’s recent issues with employee abuse in Part One, but I’m going to defend them about something specific in this part. We keep hearing about how Amazon made billions in profit during the pandemic, and if there’s an argument for them being an evil corporation here it’s the reports that they weren’t doing as much as they could to protect their workers from COVID-19. Let’s set that aside for this post though.
Amazon is a business who was pandemic proof in this situation. If the pandemic had been 50% deadly rather than 1% to 2% deadly, they would not have been pandemic proof; but in this case, they were pandemic proof. There were a lot of businesses that were not pandemic proof, and those businesses failed. There were partisan political arguments about what were more important, human lives or businesses, but the simple fact is that the businesses that were not ready for any sort of emergency or downturn weren’t coming back. If we’re being honest, they probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer, even without the pandemic, anyway.
There is a figure that gets floated a lot that 9 out of 10 businesses fail in the first five years, and of those that survive 9 out of 10 fail in the second five years. The point is that if you’re starting a business, your most important job is to emergency proof your business as much as possible as soon as possible. Amazon lucked out and this wasn’t the situation that would take them down. Now that we all know that this kind of situation is possible, or maybe a worse one like it, we have an obligation to our businesses to prepare.
Next, it’s not that Amazon is strictly evil for not paying taxes. I take my forms and receipts to a CPA every year to avoid paying taxes that I can legally avoid. If you were told by the government next year that if you did certain things you would legally pay no taxes, you would likely do those things. The problem here was that while the economy was doing good, the government should have raised taxes to prepare for a downturn. Sound familiar to what I was just saying about businesses? I even wrote a similar post about personal finance.
The fact is that the government response to needing businesses to temporarily shut down could have been much more effective had they reserved money for emergencies by taxing businesses like Amazon during the good times. Instead, the only way they could provide emergency relief was to print new money and put the future of the good economy at risk. It’s like anyone who had to live off of their credit cards during lockdown. It’ll take them time to be financially secure again. Businesses who had to take out loans to keep their doors open will struggle worse than if they had been cash positive.
The point is that Amazon may have done some bad during the pandemic, but their designation as an evil corporation doesn’t legitimately come from not paying taxes; that’s corrupt government. Their designation as an evil corporation doesn’t come from profiting during the pandemic; that’s having a strong business model. When things are back to normal, don’t buy from Amazon if you feel they need to be punished in some way. I don’t have an Amazon account and I have what I need. This is what I keep saying anyway. You don’t have to spend everything you make, whether you’re an individual, a family, a business, or a government. And you certainly don’t have to spend it at a corporation that you feel is evil.
“TAX AMAZON Seattle Wash” by Wil_i_am Murray is marked with CC0 1.0
Yeah, I only posted this one because it says “fucking” on the sign. You can call me juvenile if you want. I don’t mind.
We get into habits and we have trouble breaking them. I used to do most of my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. The only reason is because they were the only store open 24/7. When they started arbitrarily closing overnight, as if shortening hours was going to do anything to slow the spread of COVID-19, I started shopping elsewhere. I still do around 95% of my shopping at places that aren’t Wal-Mart. My point is that I was never a fan of Wal-Mart, but I got into a habit. Now that I’ve broken it, I have no real reason to look back. If you want Amazon to act better, stop ordering from them. They won’t notice if just you stop, but if enough people stop they will notice.
Chris McGinty is a blogger who wonders if you buy your food directly from the Amazon workers in the delivery vans and take it straight to the toilet can you just cut out the digestive middleman entirely.