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[flagged] Jeff Bezos Wants to Give More Money to Charity. He Should Pay His Workers First (huffpost.com)
69 points by binarray2000 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

Dont understand why this was flagged, read the article and they werent making wild claims without citations.

Payroll and charity issues aside which is up to interpretation, I dont understand why HN can not take the article. Maybe HuffPost isnt a credible source?

Could be flagged because of the back button hijack? Can someone find an alternate source to resubmit? As you said the citations are valid and this is a discussion I'd like to see develop here.

>Could be flagged because of the back button hijack?

If so, that's not a valid reason for flagging an article.

It's particularly odd because as far as I know, none of the articles about Amazon's search for a new headquarters have been flagged.

If he pays them more he also pays payroll taxes.

If he donates to charity he gets a tax credit.

Am I missing something? Else seems logical to me.

No, that doesn't make sense. Both types of expenses are fully tax-deductible.

Technically, payroll taxes are paid by the employee, even if–even more technically–the money itself goes directly from employer to Government. To the employer, it's just part of the employees' wages.

Of course neither option means that it's a net positive for him (or anyone) to spend money. If he pays 1 Million more in wages, or gives that same million to a recognized charity: in both cases he save only the taxes he would have paid on that million, i. e. something around 25%-35%, depending on the source of that money.

And taxes aren't just a black hole that swallows money. The marginal utility can be extremely high. Because so much of the budget is tied up in long-term obligations, administrative wages etc, any additional money has an outsized impact when it comes to the discretionary budget, where politics is actually able to shape communities.

The government is also much better at allocating funds where they're needed, compared to most charity work. Trying to replace government with benevolent giving just leads to every stray puppy on earth being pampered, but nobody is going to finance reintegration efforts for convicted sex offenders.

Charity also has higher PR value for each dollar.

And that's exactly this approach that is criticized in the article.

The tax situation is a bit more complex. Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com are separate entities. Transfer of assets, whether shares or cash, would have to be recognized somehow on the corporate side, possibly triggering other tax events.

> If he donates to charity he gets a tax credit.

A tax deduction + PR.

Less payroll = lower costs = higher profits = higher stock price = greater wealth for Besos & investors.

On the footnote:

   Fredrick Kunkle is a staff writer on The Washington Post’s Metro desk 
   and co-chair of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild’s bargaining unit 
   at the Post. The views stated here are his own.
It looks like WaPo labor union leader is trying to bargain a better labor contract with their employer/WaPo owner with this piece.

Bezos's wealth is based on Amazon stock value.

Amazon the company pays salaries, not Bezos. An increase in X$ to warehouse workers may mean a decrease of X*Y$ in Bezos's wealth. It's not so simple.

Also, the workers that everyone feels bad for are less than a decade from being entirely replaced with robots. It's sad but if your entire job consists of walking around a warehouse picking up objects and putting them into boxes because you have thumbs and robotic ones are not good enough yet, I don't see why you should expect anything more than minimum wage.

To a first order approximation, every $3500 he donates the against malaria foundation would save a life.

I'm all for Jeff Bezos operating as a more ethical businessman. And you can criticize him for that till the cows come home with no objection from me. But lets not criticize his plans for charitable giving. Lets not discourage that. Because at the end of the day, billions of dollars to effective charities will save millions of lives.

I live in NZ, which has a population of 5 millions or so. It doesn't feel like a small country at all. And yet Jeff Bezos could probably save that many people from dying if he wanted to. He could literally create another NZ worth of people in the world. It wouldn't quite be as cheap as $18B, but I suspect it could be done for less than $40B. So he would still have another $40B left to fix those worker-welfare issues.

Amazon often pays its workers top dollar. The problem is what is expected in exchange...

They pay their software developers top dollar because if they weren't they'd work elsewhere, but everyone else....

The workers are just going to waste it on stuff like food and shelter.

I work at an Amazon fulfillment center, and I've asked my managers to just let me live in the Kiva field because the cost of living is so much higher here than what they pay, but they keep refusing.

Why should he pay them more than market value? As a shareholder, I definitely don't want this to happen. It's not Bezos' company, it's a public company.

If he plans to donate to charity, he is acting on ethics. Why not translate that to the surplus money available in his business is the question.

Of course there is nuance here with taxes, PR, and what dispersal of money does more ethical good. The point is, depending on the answer you settle on for this resulting question, there are multiple valid answers to your question above.

If he is acting on ethics, charity can still be superior. After all, the terrible way Amazon treats its employees is literally a First World problem. Many charity recipients have much more urgent needs.

Says the guy who's likely posting this message on company time from an air-conditioned office.

What's market value? Seems like a better description would be "as little as you can get away with".

Yes. Just like you pay as little as you can get away with for Amazon's products. Why would anyone pay more than they have to for stuff? The only reason someone would do such a thing is if they do it for charity.

Which Jeff Bezos is doing anyway, just for a different charitable cause.

I don't think paying someone more because you appreciate the effort they put in, or their commitment to the success of the company, counts as charity.

Edit: or realizing that you're all in this together and their success is your success.

If you need employees who are committed to the success of the company, then you can't really "get away" with paying them less. If you have competition, having loyal motivated employees can make a difference and provide a competitive edge.

But if you don't need loyal motivated employees, paying extra for that is unnecessary and basically just very inefficient charity.

My co-workers (SWE) used to work at Amazon and their wages were fairly competitive (ie, market rate). I'm not too sure about non-technical, warehouse jobs, but I would expect those jobs to be much lower. How much do you think they should get paid?

Maybe something that tracks how much value they produce for the company, or how successful the company is overall? The article says Bezos cut healthcare and pension plans, while the company is making more money than ever.

If he did that, then the company couldn't have gotten this popular. In the beginning, it was VERY difficult to get a better deal on products than Amazon because of how low their prices were.

If they started to pay their employees more, then they could have never priced their goods as competitively.

"But wait, that was then, why not start paying their employees better now?"

Because this is just the beginning. Amazon will use that money to grow even bigger by investing into itself. You don't even know what they might expand into in the next ten years. And yes, they will have to do it by paying their employees as little as they can get away with to keep growing the business at the same quick rate.

If he pays his workers too little, they will go work elsewhere. Nobody is forcing anyone to work for Amazon.

That makes sense in an economy where supply (jobs) is greater than demand. If there are no other jobs then your choice becomes work for as little as offered or starve.

If Amazon pushes out other businesses in an area, there might not be an "elsewhere" nearby. How are they going to move across the country for a job when they don't have any money? If they're having a hard time making rent, how do they take time off to do interviews?

Yes, that's exactly how markets work.

Market value is not some objective number. Any value between the smallest acceptable to the seller to the highest acceptable to the buyer would work.

More than half the people are trying to get the most they can instead of the least. The vast majority of people in this situation (the employees) are not getting what they want. Unless they start collective bargaining, Bezos has far more power than they do.

What does the "[flagged]" mean in the title?

It means someone flagged the article as not suitable for hn. You can [vouch] for it in the hn area at the top (I think it's called vouch, and I'm not sure the reputation requirement)

This is the truest article I have ever read.

Off topic, but did anyone else notice the sneaky back-button highjacking? I don't know if there's a better word for it.

Open the article in a new tab, and instead of the back button being greyed-out, it is functional -- when clicked, it redirects to the home page with a full-screen headline.

I see this behaviour in Chrome as well. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to work, as the common name for the certificate is a *.edgecastcdn.net, which doesn't match up with huffingtonpost.co.uk.

There's a ton of SAN in there, including:

DNS:gp1.adn.edgecastcdn.net, DNS:gs1.adn.edgecastcdn.net, DNS:ne1.adn.edgecastcdn.net, DNS:www.uship.com, DNS:www.bluefly.com, DNS:www.belleandclive.com, DNS:is.belleandclive.com, DNS:connections.cochlear.com, DNS:assets.pokemon.com, DNS:www.shopperschoice.com, DNS:www.biznessapps.com, DNS:cdn.shocho.co, DNS:secure.hibustudio.com, DNS:www.stardoll.com, DNS:adn.wiredrive.com, DNS:www.speedtest.net, DNS:www.cduniverse.com, DNS:ak-site-origin-cover.cduniverse.com, DNS:cover.cduniverse.com, DNS:g.cduniverse.com, DNS:www.renttherunway.com, DNS:cdn2.navexglobal.com, DNS:www.chdist.com, DNS:www.thefanorama.com, DNS:cdn2.mediasilo.com, DNS:cdn.citadoncw.com, DNS:www.woodcraft.com, DNS:marketing-admin.upsight-api.com, DNS:www.edgecast.com

Nope - the back button is grayed out for me on Firefox 56 on desktop - which is the normal behavior.

But Chrome swallows the hijack whole.

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