Friday, February 9, 2018

Promises Promises

Great musical but also a standing line when businesses extort tax breaks to relocate their headquarters, open a new branch office or just play footsie with lawmakers.  Right now Amazon is busy having closed door meetings in Seattle with many elected officials or their representatives for purposes unknown as the meetings are closed to both press and public. They are also in violation of the law under but hey when you are Amazon  what is law and to hell with Washington state’s Open Public Meetings Act. When you own Seattle you can do whatever you like.

Amazon and Seattle have a very co-dependent relationship, they have earned the towns animosity, found an influx of largely men relocating to the city and in turn the rising costs associated with the tech industry and salary ranges it offers affecting those who aren't lucky enough to be a part of the bro-culture. Then you have the rising tax dollars that comes from the connected expenses via property taxes and sales tax the two largest generators in an income tax free state.  Its good if you're rich.  But then in turn the reality of actually hiring and retaining employees which Amazon does have a problem. And like all industries they too have a flux and at one point instituted a hiring freeze.  It does get cold in the winter in Seattle.  Well they have to pay for that Super Bowl ad, buying Whole Foods, creating their own air delivery service (say bye bye Fed Ex/DHL/UPS), their own health care company/insurance, and those spheres didn't fall of space but when Amazon starts building rockets watch out!

And guess what folks Amazon is coming to a town near you if they haven't already via their "fulfillment centers" aka warehouses.  These are the jewels in the Prime delivery promise of same/two day/hours delivery.  They usually locate in townships outside major cities for the needed space and in turn make many promises to the never ending revolving door of applicants/supplicants or just desperate people looking for work.   Remember the "50K" promise last year where the news gleefully declared that Amazon was hiring up to 50,000 warehouse, whoops fulfillment, workers.  Was that number ever verified? Or was that just temporary? Or  in turn were the workers actually hired by a third party vendor? Again the media loves Amazon and they will rarely cross that river cause its dangerous.  Just ask their delivery drivers. Oh wait they aren't Amazon employees either.

This week a study emerged about the whole jobs promises of Amazon. And guess what they are like men, they exaggerate a little about their net worth and the size of their dicks and well just are them.

Amazon warehouses don’t lead to broad job growth in counties, study finds
The Seattle Times
By Matt Day
Seattle Times technology reporter
Originally published February 5, 2018

A study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that counties home to an Amazon warehouse do not show broad-based employment gains in the two years after their opening. Amazon said the report undervalues its economic impact.

When Amazon discloses its plans to build a new warehouse, the news release is predictable.
An Amazon executive cites the number of jobs that the company plans to fill. Elected officials thank Amazon and praise the vibrancy of their business community. And, sometimes, they predict benefits that will flow from Amazon’s investment.

Middletown, Delaware, Mayor Kenneth Branner, for example, said an Amazon facility announced in 2012 would “be a jump start to our economy and bring additional employment growth to our area.”

A new study challenges that premise, finding that counties that house a new Amazon depot show no growth in the number of total jobs in the wider economy during the two years after a facility’s opening. 
“Amazon, when it opens a fulfillment center, does add warehousing jobs,” said Ben Zipperer, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and a co-author of the study released last week, using Amazon’s term for its warehouses, which tend to employ between 500 and 1,500 people each. “But those don’t really translate to any sort of broad-based economic growth in the county that they open the centers in.” 
In the absence of an obvious hiring boom, the study’s authors contend that mayors and state officials should refrain from spending public dollars and providing tax breaks to secure Amazon’s commitment to build warehouses in their region. 
The report is the latest fodder for the debate about Amazon’s growing role in the U.S. economy, and the use of public funds to offset the costs of the company’s rapid expansion. 
The Seattle company’s warehousing footprint has expanded dramatically in recent years, as Amazon placed depots closer to major population centers to deliver packages quicker and cheaper. The company had fewer than 10 centers through the mid-2000s, the study says, and was nearing 100 by the end of 2017. 
In the process, the company has become the second-largest U.S.-based employer, trailing only Walmart. Critics have scrutinized the high-pressure working conditions present in its warehousing arm, as well as the public subsidies spent to lure warehouses in the first place. 
“They are clearly opening a lot more fulfillment centers, this is a big development in our economy,” Zipperer said. “Local governments are more or less falling over themselves to attract Amazon. That raises the question, what are you actually getting when you basically sacrifice future tax revenue? How big is that trade off?” 
In one case cited by Good Jobs First, a corporate subsidy watchdog that has criticized payments to Amazon, Chattanooga, Tenn., offered Amazon $30 million in property tax rebates, 80 acres of free land and $4 million in state payments to prepare the site for a warehouse built in the area that came online in 2011. . 
In a statement last week, Amazon pushed back against the EPI study. 
The company says it employed more than 200,000 people in the U.S. in 2016, and estimates that its spending led to the creation of another 200,000 jobs outside the company, including temporary construction jobs. (Amazon didn’t provide a breakdown of how many of those jobs were created by high-paying corporate and software development positions, versus the lower-paying roles in warehousing and logistics.) 
“These data points are not demonstrative of our current network, community impact, and both the direct and indirect job creation near fulfillment centers,” the statement said. 
Michael Mandel, an economist with the Progressive Policy Institute who contends that e-commerce jobs of the sort Amazon creates reduce income inequality, criticized the EPI study in a blog post. He noted that the study didn’t include in its data set the case of Kenosha, Wisconsin, home to an Amazon warehouse since 2015 that has seen stronger employment growth than the state as a whole.
Zipperer said EPI limited its study to counties with warehouse employment data in a Bureau of Labor Statistics database available for the period between 2001 and 2015.
The study examined 54 Amazon fulfillment centers located in 34 U.S. counties, which the authors say covered about three-fourths of Amazon’s warehousing network as it stood in 2015. The authors limited their sample to warehouses opened by that year, an effort to evaluate employment changes in the years following the opening. 
“We used the data we had, and tried to compare apples to apples,” Zipperer said. “We will almost surely update this, the more data we get.”
EPI, based in Washington, D.C., describes itself as a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for worker-friendly policies. About 30 percent of its funding comes from labor unions.
Zipperer said he had two theories as to why Amazon didn’t show up as a larger contributor to employment in his data. 
“The most charitable explanation that would mesh with our findings is Amazon is creating jobs, but they’re not that many to actually detect as a [meaningful] addition to overall employment,” Zipperer said. Warehousing has historically been a small employer, he said, accounting for about 1 percent of total employment in most areas covered by the study. 
The other possibility, he said, is that Amazon warehouse jobs “are just pulling people away from other sectors of the economy,” he said. “Some retail worker is now going to take a job at the warehouse

This week I  read an interesting story about an Amazon warehouse worker and the demands that they must fulfill (hence that is where the name comes from) in order to remain employed. To say Big Brother would be half the story.  And if you think being a member of a union is wrong read this man's story and then ask yourself why and why most of their centers are in red states with right-to-work laws and a constituency who elect those who pander to their Corporate lords

As John Oliver said last year the pursuit of Amazon is for ill gotten gains.  If any. Now there is your shithole.

John Oliver: Cities Vying for Amazon Are Throwing Money Down a Hole

by Katie Herzog • Nov 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm
The Stranger

John Oliver took on economic incentives Sunday on Last Week Tonight. Economic incentives, as Oliver explains, are the tax breaks state and cities are willing to give corporations for the privilege of hosting them; basically, how far they are willing to spread their cheeks when CEOs start talking about bringing jobs to town.

One great example of this is Amazon, and the nutty bidding war the company's search for HQ2 has inspired. As Oliver mentions, towns all across the U.S. are engaging in humiliating stunts, from Stonecrest, Georgia, which offered to rename itself after Amazon, to San Antonio, Texas, which tried to neg it into bed. But worse than the stunts are the economic incentives. New Jersey, for instances, offered $7 billion in tax breaks to attract the retailer. As Oliver points out, that's $7 billion that wouldn't be available for things like roads, schools, and hospitals, not to mention Chris Christie's family vacations.

“We’re basically throwing money down a hole and hoping it brings us prosperity," Oliver says, "which is the exact business model of a fucking wishing well."

Shockingly, when the Puget Sound area submitted a proposal to host HQ2 (because apparently one Amazon just isn't enough), they didn't offer any new tax credits. Instead, they pointed out that because Washington doesn't have either a personal or corporate income tax, it would still be cheaper to expand locally than to move some place that actually taxes their corporate parasites. It seems unlikely to work when so many other places are willing to open both their hearts and checkbooks to Amazon without any baggage, but maybe it could happen. Jeff Bezos says he considered founding Amazon on a Native American reservation to avoid taxes; when that didn't work out, he chose the next best thing, with the next lowest taxes, instead.

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