Privilege does strange and unpleasant things to human beings. I saw these distortions among my rich classmates as a scholarship student at prep school and at Harvard University, an institution designed, like all elite schools, to perpetuate the plutocracy. Living in privilege spawns callousness, even cruelty, to those less fortunate and feeds a bottomless greed.
All our institutions—the press, the courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch and academia—have been perverted to serve the oligarch’s narrow, selfish interests while an oppressed citizenry, struggling to survive, is seething with mounting rage and frustration.
Oligarchs, freed from outside oversight and regulation, wantonly pillage the political and economic institutions that sustain them.
Greed is bottomless. It is the disease of the rich. All societies are plagued by social inequality, but when those on the bottom and in the middle of the social pyramid lose their voice and agency, when the society exists only to serve the greed of the rich, when income inequality reaches the levels it has reached in the United States, the social fabric is torn apart and the society destroys itself.
THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER HAS engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire and a notorious labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.Read More
Amazon’s HQ2 spectacle, featuring civic leaders across the country happily debasing themselves—personally, politically, and economically— in a futile quest to attract the beneficence of Jeff Bezos, is just the most extreme example of a corporate con job that goes on all the time. Big companies can force cities and states to compete in a zero-sum game of offering them tax breaks and other incentives in order to locate or relocate facilities.
All of this is nothing but a transfer of wealth from public to private coffers. To companies, this is just free money. Billions of dollars from heaven.
By banning this insulting robbery of the public till outright, business will continue building, and investing, and locating, and relocating. They do all those things in order to make more money. Companies create jobs because they need work done in order to make money. They are not charitable activities. They do not need a bribe. They are playing on the desperation of desperate places in order to rip us all off. That should not be legal.
Amazon’s complicity may still be under the radar, but it is all the riskier now that Bezos has publicly defended working with the Pentagon on matters others wanted nothing to do with. His quote about senior leadership making “the right decisions” could easily become the soundbite for a story about government excess going unchallenged by the private sector.
Bezos tries to paint this with a broad brush by contending that major companies must not walk away from the U.S. government over politics. Amazon is going down a risky path. They say that if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Deafeningly silent, however, is Khashoggi’s own boss – Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, who has yet to issue any sort of statement. Perhaps Bezos has refrained from issuing a statement due to a lucrative deal to set up data centers in Saudi Arabia – a plan announced last year.
Amazon also has an office in Riyadh for Souq.com, the Middle Eastern e-commerce company that it acquired last year for $580 million.
Chamath Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and owner of the Golden State Warriors, put a name to it: Amazon, he told an audience of fellow investors, “is a multitrillion-dollar monopoly hiding in plain sight.”
Economists have recently begun to document a link between corporate concentration and rising inequality. Dominant companies, they’re finding, are funneling the spoils to a small number of people at the top. And by reducing the number of their competitors, these companies are also making it harder for workers to get a fair wage and for producers to get a fair price. A particularly troubling data point in this research is the loss of a long-standing pathway to a middle-class life: starting a business. The number of new firms launched each year has fallen by nearly two-thirds since 1980, and many economists believe that corporate power is to blame.