My friend and fellow collaborator Cahleel Copus had an interesting article noting how Amazon’s new promotion program is inherently anti-capitalist.
A lot of his observations are valid, and I’m inclined to agree with the lack of principle in Amazon’s part, to offer a privilege that most full time or part time employees not on the government’s welfare roll voluntarily sign on, to seek the benefits of the wonderful marketplace that Amazon is.
However, this is just a symptom of a much, much larger problem, that of government doling out benefits without many checks, often necessitated by bad atmospheres for business, creating unemployment and also by wrongly or unfairly incarcerating hundreds of thousands of individuals, who have little to no prospect of finding a well paying job (post incarceration) due to their records.
What Amazon did (lack of principle aside), in my personal opinion, was what every crafty business would do: devise a clever marketing scheme to portray the company as altruistic, and expand their own sales. Everyone does have the right (in negative) to seek the benefits of the wonderful marketplace benefits, like the Prime membership, that Amazon offers, but one needs to realize that if the government is handing out cash without supervision, the beneficiaries have every right (in negative) to use the cash as they please. And Amazon swoops in to show themselves as bringing dignity to the individual, while earning themselves a pat on the back for doing so, and boosting their own bottom line.
Many critics of the negative income tax use this transfer as one of their main issues with a proposal, which takes wealth away from those who create value while give it to the rent seekers, and also the unfairly disadvantaged, who in principle should be the sole beneficiaries of such government handouts (taking socio-political realities into account).
A fix to such seemingly cronyist incentives for large, powerful businesses in doling out such offers to boost image and bottom line, is to enact comprehensive welfare reform (and here, I’m not shooting for the ideal, where the private market would take care of everything). The reform has to include reform for enabling better business atmospheres (yes, it is a part of the problem), empower the individual by bringing dignity to welfare in motivating the individual to find employment, make it easier for the previously incarcerated to be able to find meaningful employment and serve only those who absolutely have no means to provide themselves. This would still result in the redistribution of wealth from the taxpayer to the welfare recipient to the crafty big businesses, but it will be less obscene than it is today.
Aiding the growth of well paying jobs will solve a lot of these concerns that the other article took issue with, but whelp, big government doesn’t care, as long as they sell altruism and receive votes in return.