Well, we got what was finally coming to us: the Amazon-ocalypse. Pitzer College, safeguard against capitalist brutality that it is, has welcomed the Nero of e-commerce to come graze in our pastures and sate our monstrous consumer appetites.
Please don’t think I’m being dramatic: Amazon is a supremely exploitative company. The three Claremont Colleges (Pitzer, Scripps College, and Pomona College) that are supposed to breed card-carrying Marxists giving the green light to this totalitarian corporate leviathan [see: “The Blob” (1958)] show how little we actually care about alleviating the conditions of the working class (also known as ‘the receiving end of everything terrible that happens in this glorified kleptocracy’).
Despite the volumes of horror stories you can read about Amazon warehouse workers being emotionally abused by sadistic managers, worked to the point of hospitalization, and paid imperceptibly above the poverty line, most of us are all too eager to get next-day delivery on our JUULpods to care.
Because the Board of Trustees played Edward Fortyhands with the head of the Federal Trade Commission at some frat party in the ‘70s, Amazon has been able to swallow up entire markets and visit commercial war crimes upon competitors. The lucre doled out to the higher-ups in the Amazon food chain are possible only because of the backbreaking labor of bottom-rung employees. The enormous profits reaped by Amazon do not magically appear: they are created by the workers who do the most for the least amount of compensation.
This is capitalism, baby. Effectively, no business owner can compete with how brutally efficient the 19th century labor practices are in keeping operating costs unbeatably low. The bureaucratic reptilians in the public sector, as you might guess, have gone hog wild for this.
States are throwing subsidies and tax breaks at the company (publicly subsidized, privately profitable) for it to open up shop in their jurisdictions, just so more of the underclass can get an ass-whooping at the hands of vulture capitalism. And we thought nation-states were a bad idea.
One explanation for our indifference to these capital crimes is that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has become a liberal icon for some unspecified reason. Maybe it’s because he had a Twitter fight with Trump; maybe it’s because he likes to shoot things into space. Who knows.
Whatever the case may be, the cult of personality around Bezos is another classic example of us, conscientious consumers, being duped into mistaking ‘screwing-over employees-in-increasingly-more-insidious-ways-to-bolster-the-profit-line’ for ‘innovation.’ Forbes isn’t going to save us: We need to take a hard look at the bleak reality that the current economic regime is foisting upon us.
In our data-driven modern world, those who didn’t have the college education necessary to end up playing with numbers for 30 minutes a day are getting left more and more behind. It’s only a matter of time before the salaries, benefits, and employment of both you and I are also on the chopping block en masse. Anyone else wondering if this whole ‘free-market’ thing is really working out for our species?
Sean Burke PZ ’21 is an idealist crank from Massachusetts’ North Shore. One time, his old band, Rarig’s Kid, almost played at a Jill Stein rally, but she heard their music and summarily rescinded the invitation. He can be reached on Twitter @RachaelRaytheon.