Hell may have officially frozen over.
Tucker Carlson, beloved Fox News host, recently found himself agreeing with newly-elected Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) when she criticized the $2bn of taxpayer subsidies received by Amazon for choosing its new headquarters locations. The HQ will be divided between the neighborhood of Queens in New York’s Long Island City and Virginia’s Crystal City in Arlington County.
Amazon claims each location will receive $2.5bn in economic investment and 25,000 jobs.
Big Bucks To the Big Corporation Without The Public Having A Say
But AOC, as she’s known, harshly criticized the deal with Amazon in a Twitter salvo that began:
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here. “
AOC is, understandably, concerned about the lack of public consultation in the deal. She’s received numerous contacts from her constituents expressing their concern over what this means for their community.
She went on to point out that there were many basic questions that weren’t publicly disclosed beforehand including whether Amazon had committed to hiring within the existing community, what type of jobs will the company bring, how well will they pay, and what the benefits are.
I found myself nodding in agreement because these are all important topics to understand what, exactly, the taxpayers of the two locations are getting in exchange for their money. In other words, what is Amazon selling and is it something the local communities would want to buy if they had a say beforehand?
Though since the announcement was made Amazon has made links to the agreements with each location available on its website, the kinds of details AOC and others want aren’t in them. (I looked.)
Mr. Carlson Takes A Jab At the Richest Man In The World
Mr. Carlson reserved his criticism for Jeff Bezos who, as the world’s richest man, received what Tucker perceives to be an unfair amount of subsidies
“I hate to admit it, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a very good point,” he added. “It’s hard to argue with the internal logic, the richest man in the world just got $2 billion in taxpayer subsidies. How does that work?”
And you know what? Good for Mr. Carlson, because I think he’s correct.
Wealth Isn’t The Issue, It’s The Subsidies
So let me make it clear, I’m all for wealth. I long ago got over my flirtation with the idea that there’s something noble about poverty when I realized I can’t get poor enough to make poor people rich, and that being rich doesn’t make anyone a jerk. (Yes, that was really a concern of mine; that I’d turn into a twit if I made enough money! But having a lot of money just makes you more of who you already are.)
I’m probably the least perturbed liberal you’ll meet about income inequality per se. My quarrel is more with the methods by which the income disparity is achieved but that’s another story for another time.
What really grinds my gears is when large taxpayer subsidies are given to wealthy corporations and – this one really gets me – to owners of sports teams as enticements (AKA bribes) to build expensive stadiums. That then sit empty for large chunks of time. But I digress!
Other Political Responses Range From Jubilant To Appalled
New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) and Virginia Senator Mark Warren (D) have been expressed their enthusiasm for and agreement with Amazon’s decision, which to me so clearly illustrates the ideological divide between the old schoolers of the Democratic Party and the new crop of progressives including Ms. Orcasio-Cortez. Something to keep an eye on in the future particularly as the newcomers get their feet on the ground.
But my favorite response comes from a NY State Senator and a City Councilman:
“Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” they said in a statement. “The burden should not be on the 99 percent to prove we are worthy of the 1 percent’s presence in our communities, but rather on Amazon to prove it would be a responsible corporate neighbor. … We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones. It is incumbent upon us to stand up on behalf of the people we represent and that is what we intend to do.”
I’m not expecting to see Mr. Carlson and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez cozying up to each other in the future, but this topic is surely an interesting one to keep an eye on.