Presumably all the real problems in the world are solved now that we’ve got people whingeing about convenient retail. Which is what is happening here with the new Amazon Must Pay campaign. Technological change now means that retail over the internet works. Lots of people like this. The price pressures from it – oft dubbed The Amazon Effect – have reduced, at least, inflation by 0.5%. The other way of looking at this is a rise in real wages for everyone of 0.5%. Not a huge amount you might say but that is also, by definition, 0.5% of GDP. Which, for Europe and North America is about $40 trillion a year. Or, running that through the back of the envelope calculator, consumers are better off by $200 billion a year, each and every year, as a result of the existence of Amazon. They’re better off by that amount at minimum.
So, of course, people want to complain. It would be advantageous if those who desired to complain could walk and fart at the same time of course:
This movement begins in Amazon’s own warehouses. While Bezos’s wealth has risen by more than $70bn (£52bn) since the onset of the pandemic, Amazon workers have put their health at risk daily with only marginal increases in pay. The corporation is said to monitor its warehouse workers, sanctions them whenever their productivity drops and has spied on their efforts to organise. The result: claims that workers have been forced to urinate in bottles for lack of adequate break-time (Amazon has disputed such claims), thousands of Covid infections and claims of inadequate worker protections. Bezos could pay each of his 876,000 employees a $105,000 (£79,000) bonus – and still be as obscenely rich as he was before the pandemic broke out.
Basic numeracy would be a start. $70 billion divided by 876,000 is $79,000. £52 billion divided by 876,000 is £59,000. Which is, by the magic of foreign exchange rates, about $79,000. What they’ve done is take that dollar amount and then multiplied it by the inverse of the exchange rate to get to the $105,000. That is, we’re being asked to take advice on international economics from people who can’t even get FX right.
There is also this:
The tax bill says it all: despite revenues of $960bn in the past decade, the company paid just $3.4bn in taxes.
Err, well, corporate income taxes are paid on income – profit – not revenue. This claim therefore coming from idiots which, given that the source is the Fair Tax Mark, is clearly true, they’re idiots:
Amazon. Stands out as the business with the poorest tax conduct, having paid just $3.4bn
in income taxes this decade. The cash tax paid was 12.7% of profit over the decade, at a time
when the federal headline rate of tax in the United States was 35% for seven of the eight
years under examination. The company is growing its market domination across the globe
on the back of revenues that are largely untaxed, and can unfairly undercut local businesses
that take a more responsible approach. The situation is unlikely to reverse soon given the
$9.3bn of operating loss carryforwards available to offset against future profits and taxes
Given that corporate income taxes are paid in arrears the cash tax paid is the wrong measure to be using. But they persist, despite people like me pointing out that by their measure any fast growing firm will have a low tax rate. Because the cash taxes paid this year refer, largely enough, to the profits made last year when the company was considerably smaller.
But this is the Fair Tax Mark, connected with Richard Murphy, so of course it gets even more stupid than this. Note that there’s $10 billion in operating losses. Which means, of course, that there have been losses along that rocky road too. A company pays tax on cumulative profits, not just those in any one year. So even their calculation of the tax rate is wrong, isn’t it?
Stressing Amazon’s profound debts to society, groups such as the Tax Justice Network, Oxfam and Data 4 Black Lives have resolved to make Amazon pay for its abuse of our public institutions.
As ripe a collection of idiots as the world possesses. One day someone will buy them one of those German toilets so they can all do something more useful – examine their own stools.