This morning, Donald Trump accused Jeff Bezos of conspiring to purchase the Washington Post in order to utilize it as a shell company to avoid paying “Internet taxes.”
While this non-existent tax might only exist in the mind of the people who regulate the Internet, Trump skipped over some of the more serious charges that should be rightly levied against Amazon and other tech giants.
Amazon in particular is a predatory employer. Workers who make minimal wages die in their warehouse facilities as a result of the temperature that Amazon refuses to regulate or the 12 or more miles that an Amazon temp worker is expected to cover during a shift in a fulfillment center. These workers are the reason that the company has turned itself into an Internet behemoth and its founder Jeff Bezos has turned himself into the world’s second richest person.
Amazon, like Walmart before it, squeezes suppliers with bulk orders at mandated prices that allow it to resell for cheaper than its competition. But others just want to turn the online market into their own personal pay-to-playground and have been punished accordingly. Google was just fined $2.7 billion dollars in Europe for violating anti-trust regulations across the pond. If regulators in the United States pursued them as aggressively, perhaps they could tap into the over $64 billion dollars that they keep overseas. This is a drop in the bucket of the $1.4 trillion dollars that the 50 biggest companies in America keep offshore to avoid taxes.
Mark Zuckerberg may seem like a super cool guy who you’d like to host for dinner if he invites himself over. But they are a huge data mine and love to use your personal information for profit in many legally and ethically dodgy fashions. The same goes with other tech companies: they’re not your friends, they’re tax dodging penny pinchers that want to shake you down for your dollars while remaining disguised as virtual fashion brands.