Friday, February 22, 2019

Saving Bezos from Himself


Today Peggy Noonan has penned a requiem for Amazon in Long Island City. In effect, she shows that New York politicians did Jeff Bezos a very large favor by driving him and his company out of the city. Perhaps it will cure Bezos of his love of leftist politics. At least, we can hope.

The fallout of the uprising against corporate greed, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called it, will be, first, that other companies will not want to open a new headquarters in New York:

After Amazon’s withdrawal no major American company will open a new headquarters here for at least a generation. No CEO is going to do what Jeff Bezos did, invest all that time and money, do all the planning, negotiating and deciding, only to see it collapse in bitter headlines because the politicians you’re making the deal with can’t control their own troops, and because in the end it is summoning a humiliation to do big business in a town whose political life is dominated by a wild and rising progressive left.

I take a slight exception here. What people call the “progressive” left has nothing to do with progressivism. It’s a radical left, a socialist left, a left wing that does not care about progress.

Than much said, Amazon would have brought jobs and tax revenue to a city that sorely needs them:

 In this world politicians are desperate to expand the tax base and brag about creating jobs. Companies can and do press every advantage. New York City and state offered Amazon almost $3 billion in future tax breaks. (Newark and New Jersey offered $7 billion; everyone’s desperate.) New York state said that over the next 25 years Amazon’s presence would yield $186 billion in positive economic impact, including $14 billion in additional tax payments. The progressives who dominate New York’s City Council charged those numbers came from consultants hired to support the deal. Fine, assume they doubled the actual benefits: That would mean $93 billion in positive economic impact, $7 billion in tax payments. Still a huge benefit to the people of New York, and a lifeline for a state experiencing, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, more than $2 billion in tax shortfalls because the rich keep moving out.

Apparently, for all the work his team put into the headquarters decision, they never considered the power of New York labor unions. And they never considered that if they had been forced to unionize in New York, they would have been forced to unionize in other places:

If Amazon were unionized it would cost them, and, warm little humanitarians that they are, they would immediately pass the cost on to consumers. That cost increase might function as a little boost to neighborhood retailers. And we all want neighborhood stores to get a boost because they’re our neighbors. They talk to us; they are part of the community; they make life more human. But you can’t expect Amazon, which is a business, to walk in declaring: We’ll not only help you unionize, we’ll organize your first strike!

Now, Comrade de Blasio has taken to the media to charge Amazon with weakness. They were, by his calculation, not tough enough to deal with New York City. Of course, if Amazon is not strong enough to deal with the entrenched radical left, which corporation would be? Thus, by the de Blasio reckoning the real tough guys were New York politicians who deep- sixed the deal.

Noonan begs to differ. Most notably, she notes, New York politicians did not know how to play the game. They should have said nothing until Amazon had invested billions in the city. Then they should have sent the bill or threatened to strike:

New York’s progressives weren’t tough, they were weak. They don’t know how to play this game.

You want to be tough and mean, get what you want, and keep those jobs for your constituents? Here was the play:

You don’t unleash the furies and hold hearings where crowds jeer, hiss and chant “GTFO, Amazon has got to go.” You don’t put stickers on every lamp pole saying “Amazon crime.” You don’t insult and belittle their representatives. You don’t become Tweeting Trotsky.

You quietly vote yes, go to the groundbreaking, and welcome our new partner in prosperity. Then you wait. And as soon as the new headquarters is fully built and staffed, you shake them down like a boss.

And also:

What’s he going to do, leave? The place has been built, billions have been spent.

That’s real left-wing hardball: You catch it, then you skin it.

They let their prey go. What second-rate slobs run this town.

So, the radical left saved Jeff Bezos from himself. Great job, kids.

5 comments:

pacman said...

Trotsky's assassination didn't dissuade socialists and communists. People still wear Che tshirts. Self imposed delusion has no cure.

Sam L. said...

I don't trust Peggy, and haven't since somewhere around 2004-2008. (I'm old, and my memory is not what it never was.)

"After Amazon’s withdrawal no major American company will open a new headquarters here for at least a generation. No CEO is going to do what Jeff Bezos did, invest all that time and money, do all the planning, negotiating and deciding, only to see it collapse in bitter headlines because the politicians you’re making the deal with can’t control their own troops, and because in the end it is summoning a humiliation to do big business in a town whose political life is dominated by a wild and rising progressive left." My guess is 5-10 years, not "a generation". There are many fools and short-memoried people.

"The progressives who dominate New York’s City Council charged those numbers came from consultants hired to support the deal." As I always say, "progressive" always make me think of cancer.

Walt said...

"Progressive" simply means progress on the road to serfdom, er, socialism

Stephen Ippolito said...

Well said, dottore.

Your point that today's Left is neither progressive or liberal is particularly well made.

As a lawyer for 30 years I made my living with words and am conscious of their power to convey truth when deployed accurately and their power to obfuscate it when used sloppily.

A true Liberal is someone who stands for and promotes individual freedom/s since it's root is in the Latin "liber" (meaning free),which derives from the Greek.

Noone is liberal who would deny a voice to those who differ from them. Likewise, noone is progressive who would impose values that are not, ultimately, life-affirming.

Sam L. said...

Walt, that's ANOTHER type of cancer.