I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Shopping Amazon kills communities. My nephew works for one of the big shipping companies. He has job security. Business is booming at Amazon while our local retailers were or are shuttered for our protection. Locals are out of work and some are hanging by a thread.
We are suckers. We are being played and rotted from the inside by our own actions. The most powerful addiction in the world has us in its grips and we willingly indulge in it again and again, driven by our insatiable hunger and, maybe, greed.
No, I’m not talking about binge-watching Sponge Bob Square Pants or contributing to climate change, but our shopping habits, Amazon in particular. Maybe you think that Amazon Prime is the best thing that ever happened to shopping, but I’d argue that Amazon has bypassed what it means to participate in community and made a whole lot of money off feeding our hunger.
Has Amazon ever sponsored your kid’s play, a local auction or a gathering at the hospital? No, never. Have they given anything back to our valley except traffic, smog and delivery job security? Nope. Are they leading the donations for the pandemic response? They say they are trying.
We go to local businesses for community support and now the shoe is on the other foot. Being one who has asked for charity from local businesses for years, I have to say that they have given generously at almost every opportunity. Most local business owners understand the web of local connections and they participate in local activities. Who do you call at Amazon to get a donation for the school auction?
When we shop locally, we give something back, even if it means that we pay $15 or $20 more for that sweater at the local store. Community is a web that is self-sustaining and is symbiotic when it works.
Shopping on Amazon for stuff that is available from local retailers bypasses the community web and goes right into the coffers of one of the richest companies in the world, feeding the pockets of the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.
How rich is Amazon? First quarter revenue reported by Amazon this year was $75.45 billion.
And how about Jeff Bezos? I’m glad you asked. His current net worth is over $171 billion. Think about that as you go to your high risk job for $17 per hour. Jeff makes more in a second (even when he’s sleeping) than many of us make in a year.
In an unexpected bright spot CNBC reported on April 30 that, “ … the biggest news in Amazon’s report was that it plans to spend all of its profit from the second quarter — an estimated $4 billion — on responding to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes hundreds of millions of dollars it plans to spend on COVID-19 tests for its workers and beefing up its delivery network to get packages to customers on time.”
Good to see that getting those packages there on time remains a priority during these trying times. Nothing says COVID-19 response like a package arriving absurdly fast from Amazon Prime.
As a society we are like happy sheep being herded into mazes, traps and snares that enrich companies like Apple, Google and Amazon, while leaving our downtowns struggling for vitality. We are traveling heads-down into a robotic world, and we go willingly. The new normal has benefitted the few at the expense of the many. We may think we are saving time and money with our devices and our shopping habits, but we are eviscerating our friends and neighbors, including many who have been here for us all along.
Amazon’s success comes at the expense of our local businesses, job prospects and ultimately our communities. Their economic model increases traffic around the world and adds gasoline to the fires of climate change. This is all to save us a few dollars on shipping, purchasing consumer crap that we probably don’t need anyway.
Steve Skinner reminds you that you can buy online and never use Amazon. He wishes you well and reminds you to shop local whenever possible, before it’s too late. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.