Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is afraid of his workers unionzing because they would “take on his greed.” Sanders’s statements come amid the news surrounding the union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama and today’s deadline for handing ballots over to the regional National Labor Relations Board office.
Biden has thrown down the gauntlet, showing he will fight against corporate autocracy and for workers’ democracy and welfare.
Following the November election, Donald Trump essentially stopped doing his job. And it was a bad time to stop as the coronavirus had raged out of control for the last two months. The ex-President ignored the crisis, preferring to complain about imaginary election fraud.
Joe Biden, however, has made getting COVID-19 vaccines into American arms his number one priority. Today, Team Biden introduced a plan to combat the coronavirus and Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to reporters.
Amazon, seeing how serious Biden is treating the pandemic, has offered to help with logistics. On Thursday, Lindsey Graham blasted the company for not making the same offer to Donald Trump.
Graham made the comments to Fox News Sandra Smith. She asked him, “if it turns out that Jeff Bezos and Amazon put politics ahead of public health, should there be some sort of accountability there?”
Lindsey Graham is livid because Amazon is helping Biden deliver the vaccine, but didn’t help Trump. pic.twitter.com/N67IxezEEL
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) January 22, 2021
Recently Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for The Washington Post Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig published their assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency to date, seeking to step out of the news cycle and “assess the reverberations” of his administration throughout the nation. Titled A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, the book layers scene after scene of Trump’s ineptitude, prioritization of self-interest over care for the nation’s well-being, and general lack of any moral compass or intellectual rigor.
As Dwight Garner, in his review for The New York Times characterized the tale Rucker and Leonnig weave, “It reads like a horror story, an almost comic immorality tale. It’s as if the president, as patient zero, had bitten an aide and slowly, bite by bite, an entire nation had lost its wits and its compass.”
The story is a compelling one, and one seemingly validated for Americans by what we have witnessed in the impeachment hearings played out in the House of Representatives and now in the ongoing trial in U.S. Senate.
The wealthy businessman Trump, corrupt to the core, is dismantling democracy and putting the nation’s well-being and security at risk for his own private gain and ego interests.
And yet we shouldn’t let the high drama of the very necessary impeachment process distract us from the more mundane threats to American democracy that seem to have become largely accepted in American life but which are no less deleterious to the American people and our supposed political ideals than Trump’s presidency is.
As an example of what I’m talking about, take billionaire Jeff Bezos and his Amazon empire, which includes, by the way, The Washington Post.
The admonitory slogan of The Washington Post is, of course, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
The sentiment is a warm and fuzzy one for sure, even articulating a noble mission and role for the free press in sustaining our democracy.
And Jeff Bezos’ dollars nobly enable that mission.
But what he “gives” with one hand (it is a business after all), he taketh with the other, underscoring the severely limited application of democratic principles throughout American society.
And can we call a form of government that limits democratic rights in practice a democracy at all?
Bezos’ Amazon, for example, recently threatened to fire its employees who spoke out publicly against the company’s environmental policies.
As Annie Palmer reported for CNBC earlier this month, employees reported that Amazon’s policy on workers’ external communications was updated last September and now “requires employees to seek prior approval to speak about Amazon in any public forum while identified as an employee.”
The Amazon Employees for Climate Justice tweeted in response to the suppression of employee free speech:
How will the world remember Jeff Bezos in the era of climate emergency? Will he use his immense economic power to help, or not?Please tell @Amazon and @JeffBezos: Our world is on fire & desperately needs climate leadership. Stop silencing employees who are sounding the alarm.
It needs to be stressed, of course, that Amazon’s suppression of its workers’ speech is not illegal and certainly not unique.
In other words, Americans do not enjoy democratic rights in the workplace. U.S. law allows for the denial of First Amendment rights when you are at work, as I’ve written about previously for PoliticusUsa.
So, as conceived currently in our nation’s legal codes, the most sacred tenets of democracy are only applicable in American life on a part-time basis. Ask Colin Kaepernick.
When you are at work for 40 to 60 hours per week, please know that democracy is on hold. Please leave your rights in your locker before you punch your time card.
Sometimes it’s even worse.
Remember Juli Briskman, a marketing executive at Akima, a government contracting firm, who was fired for flipping off President Trump’s motorcade while riding her bike? She wasn’t even at work. Because she had been photographed and the photograph had been published with great popularity, she identified herself to her company and was promptly called into a room and fired for violating code-of-conduct policies. Clearly, she did not have the right to express herself as she chooses, even outside of the workplace, without consequences for her employment.
Democracy dies in the workplace, and certainly at Amazon, where, similar to many companies, workers’ efforts to unionize are vigorously resisted. Like Target and Walmart, among others, Amazon has produced its own anti-union video that is part of employee training.
And the union structure, which collectively organizes workers and negotiates their rights and remuneration, is the main and really only means for workers to have a voice in their workplace, where they spend a good deal of their lives contributing to the world in which we all live.
Bezos and Trump have a long adversarial history, as they spar over the size of their . . . bank accounts.
foiled a Pentagon contract
A lot of energy has gone into railing against the tax policy proposals forwarded by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. In the most general terms, they both push hard for raising taxes on the extremely wealthy, the wealthiest of the wealthiest, who have been able to avail themselves of the opportunities this nation affords to accumulate vast fortunes.
If you stop to think about it, the vociferous opposition to these proposals, cast in fear-mongering hysteria that they represent the imposition of European socialism on America, is rather disproportionate to the modesty of what they actually would entail for less than the top .1% of households if actually implemented.
Yes, you heard that right—the top .1%. All of this fervor, this sturm und drang, stirred up by these proposals is about protecting the excessive wealth of 75,000 households in America. Much less, even very little, attention and energy are devoted to understanding the benefits of this tax for the majority of Americans in terms of enabling them to take care of our nation’s children, to pursue higher education, and thus to contribute to the economy.
If the tax proposals have generated this much hostility, inspiring such concern for less than .1% of households, we must wonder why. Most of us don’t belong to this elite minority group, so what is at stake in this defense. Is it some sacred standard of fairness?
Let’s unpack their proposals to find an answer to this question. And as we do so, let’s keep in mind that the top marginal tax rate for individuals in the U.S. through the 1950s and 1960s exceeded 90%; from 1971 through 1980, the top rate was 70%; and Ronald Reagan cut the top rate to 50% in 1982. In recent years, the top rate has fluctuated between the mid- to high-30s.
So, in a decade of decidable prosperity, the 1950s, the nation’s cultural ethos upheld as fair a top marginal tax rate of 90%.
What do Warren and Sanders propose?
Warren proposes a 2% tax on wealth over $50 million and 3% on wealth over $1 billion. Sanders would tax those worth $32 million at 1% – meaning his tax would hit about 180,000 families versus about 75,000 households under Warren’s proposal.
Sanders’ plan also escalates the tax rate for wealth over $500 million, which would be taxed at 4%. Wealth over $10 billion would be taxed at a rate of 8%.
In the terms of our own nation’s history of taxation, it seems hard to cry foul and question fairness.
And is there a standard beyond fairness we might just call decency?
At some point we need to ask those who protest these proposals, “How much is enough?” How much do they need? When will both we and they decide that they now have enough wealth that they give some up to make the lives of those living in the nation that helped them make that wealth livable in the most basic of ways.
Robert Frank reports for CNBC that under Sanders’ plan, Jeff Bezos would pay $9 billion in taxes. The deadline screams with outrage. And we get the list: Bill Gates would pay $8.6 billion, Warren Buffet $6.6 billion, Mark Zuckerberg $5.8 billion, and so on.
Surely, these are large tax bills. To put it in perspective, if one earned the comfortable salary of $100,000 annually, it would take 9,000 years just to earn enough to pay Bezos’ bill.
But then think about tens of billions in income these people enjoy. Are they suffering? Mark Zuckerberg, worth $66 billion, could spend $1200 per minute for a century and still be wealthy.
That person earning $100,000 annually, makes $3 million working for 30 years. These billionaires make multiples of that in one day.
They won’t be suffering, but many in the U.S. do, struggling to meet basic health and housing needs, afford education, and more. So how much is enough before we decide those with billions can pay a little more? Before they decide?
Here are the benefits of Warren’s plan:
The tax would impact, it is projected, about 75,000 households (less than .1%) and raise $275 trillion over ten years. These revenues would be used to pay for universal child care and pre-K ($700 billion over ten years); free college tuition at public institutions, money for historically Black colleges, and the forgiving of a good portion of student loan debt (together all of this costs $1.25 trillion over ten years); and then she proposes the remaining $750 billion would be down payments on medicare-for-all and the green new deal.
And let’s point out that many of these benefits help the wealthy as well. We all need to save the planet.
We often hear from state and national leaders, when it comes to making budgets, that we just don’t have enough to take care of all our needs.
The plans of Warren and Sanders beg the question, “Do we have enough as a nation to meet the needs of our people?” The answer seems to be, emphatically, “Yes.”
So what holds us back from creating a humane economy and society, the Great Society?
We love to believe that people simply don’t deserve to have basic needs yet, that they don’t work hard enough or contribute enough—that they simply aren’t deserving.
Maybe one day we’ll ask ourselves if Jeff Bezos really works tens of thousands of times harder than the teacher who helps educates his workers, the custodian who keeps his office clean, the factory workers who make the products he sells.
For now, let’s ask, “How much is enough?” and “Don’t we have enough to go around?”
An investigator hired by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos believes that his text messages that were used as part of a plot to blackmail him were probably obtained illegally by a ‘government entity.’
As we reported last night, Bezos is accusing American Media Inc. (AMI), the parent company of the National Enquirer, of “extortion and blackmail.” AMI is owned by David Pecker, a close personal friend of Donald Trump.
Last year Pecker, under threats from federal prosecutors, agreed to testify against Trump and provide evidence of “hush money” payments.
Bezos, the world’s richest man, hired famous security consultant Gavin de Becker to investigate how his personal smartphone data was compromised by AMI.
De Becker is the world’s foremost expert
Trump thinks that Amazon and The Washington Post are the same company, and they are out to get him.
Trump loves to tweet, and now twitter is firing back at the president who has been posting some nasty tweets about Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Many people on the White House staff have tried to stop Trump from tweeting, but to no avail. Now former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara has come up with a great suggestion.
What if Jeff Bezos bought Twitter with the change in his pocket and shut Trump's account?
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) April 3, 2018
There are a LOT of people who would like Trump to stop tweeting, so shutting down his twitter account might not be a bad idea.
Bezos himself has his own idea for shutting down Trump’s tweets: He offered to give Trump a ride on a rocket ship, thinking that sending him to outer space would keep him quiet for a while.
The political and media firestorm about Richard Cohen's recent column, as typical, missed the real issues.
This week Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation denounced tech companies and employers who censor or punish online ugliness. But the internet is no longer a frontier.