Amazon’s search for a new headquarters has been narrowed down to 20 cities; one of which is New York City. Many of the nominated cities are currently trapped in a bidding war, throwing their tax dollars at Amazon in a desperate attempt to beg for their business. While many hope that Amazon will choose to settle down in New York, there will be various detrimental effects to allowing this corporation to plant itself in our home.
The best indicator of the problematic potential of this venture is Amazon’s stance that nominated cities should not disclose any financial dealings within the selection process. Right now, cities are in a battle worth billions of public tax dollars to subsidize Amazon for its new headquarters and the jobs that come with it. An Amazon spokesperson claimed in September 2017 that aspects of the dealings are confidential and proprietary. While it is in every right for a company to be discrete in its private matters, Amazon is not dealing in the private sector. These negotiations will impact the public, while utilizing public money. Therefore, the public has the right to know about it.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who has surprisingly never ordered anything from Amazon before, claims that he will not offer Amazon new tax subsidies; however, it will be able to take advantage of those existing. De Blasio also stated, “We have a lot to offer them. We’re going to work very hard at it. I expect to meet with Amazon leadership. We’ve already started to set that up. We’re going to make a strong proposal.” In having a strong proposal and what De Blasio claims is a lot to offer, it is not a leap to assume that De Blasio is utilizing existing tax subsidies as a form of bribery. However, we can’t truly know due to the aforementioned lack of transparency within these dealings.
These potential corporate subsidies mark a loss of opportunity cost; the money could be spent elsewhere. Cities are trying to bid more and more of taxpayer money to provide greater incentive for Amazon to come to their respective cities, so it must be questioned whether city officials are increasing their bids with caution. The more money that officials divert from the public and offer to Amazon, which will profit billions regardless, the greater decline we face in opportunities for local governments to spend money on housing, health care and education. It is understandable that with Amazon coming in, jobs and the surrounding economy will grow drastically, but the cost that the city puts into the partnership must also weigh into this decision. More importantly, taxpayers should be able to see where their tax dollars are going, and if Amazon believes differently, it should not have a place in our city.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this appeared in the Monday, January 29 print edition. Email Mert at [email protected].