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A ‘Grass-Roots’ Campaign to Take Down Amazon Is Funded By Its Biggest Rivals (wsj.com)
146 points by bin0 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 176 comments



Okay so wait, we have corporations trying to turn the public against a competitor for being "too successful," in the hopes that it will let them use the apparatus of government to hobble said competitor in any way without repercussions, and no one is upset about this? Instead, we just go along with this fake-grassroots idea of "oh yeah Amazon is an evil empire"? This doesn't process for me.

I mean seriously, Amazon is so superior to the competition that they're left trying to use institutionalized violence to stop them; that can only make things worse on the economics side. Why are we forgetting that?

And before you talk about how Amazon acts monopolistically by promoting their own or favorite products, it's their platform, they have a right to do that and they're not forcing sellers to use them. The sellers, if they really think they have a better chance elsewhere, can leave. And Amazon doesn't owe them the best possible service. It might make it worse for users, but again no one is forcing you to use Amazon. Use Walmart all you want!


> Okay so wait, we have corporations trying to turn the public against a competitor for being "too successful," in the hopes that it will let them use the apparatus of government to hobble said competitor in any way without repercussions, and no one is upset about this? Instead, we just go along with this fake-grassroots idea of "oh yeah Amazon is an evil empire"? This doesn't process for me.

Amazon can be an evil empire, AND their opposition can also be evil corporations that do evil things like organize fake grassroots campaigns. These are not mutually exclusive ideas.

> Amazon is so superior to the competition that they're left trying to use institutionalized violence to stop them

"Violence" is a word with a meaning, and it isn't happening here. No one has been so much as bruised. If you have to resort to this sort of sophistry to make your point, your point is probably not correct.

Amazon isn't winning because they're superior to the competition. Lots of online sellers manage to not sell counterfeit goods, have better prices, and give more of the profit to the people actually producing products. Amazon is winning because of first-to-market advantages, pre-existing infrastructure, and monopolistic practices.

> And before you talk about how Amazon acts monopolistically by promoting their own or favorite products, it's their platform, they have a right to do that and they're not forcing sellers to use them. The sellers, if they really think they have a better chance elsewhere, can leave. It might make it worse for users, but again no one is forcing you to use Amazon. Use Walmart all you want!

It's clear that you do not understand the concept of a monopoly.


In addition to my other comment, I wanted to point out that you make it seem as though Amazon being the first to market (which they weren't) would be somehow something that wasn't due to their merit. If they had actually been first to market, that would have been because they were good at what they did, and the benefits that came with that (if they were significant at all), would have been warranted.

You also make it seem like all the infrastructure that they use very efficiently to their advantage is something that they just found in the woods one day. They built all that, and are using the advantages gained from that, which are, again, earned and a part of Amazon's merit.

And further, I don't think explaining away a corporation's dominance by using monopolistic practices is very convincing when they rose to power so recently: how did Amazon get so big in the first place? Also, most of the monopolistic practices, of the kind that would allow a company to maintain dominance in spite of merit, are things Amazon is not doing. It's monopolistic practices are limited to it's own platform.


How does it benefit society (now) that Amazon was first to sell stuff online at scale?

How does it benefit society that non-Amazon sellers have to either use their competitor's infrastructure to compete with them on sales, or build their own infrastructure while attempting to grow on an unknown platform? Amazon's infrastructure may be meritable, but leveraging it to compete with their own customers is not.

> And further, I don't think explaining away a corporation's dominance by using monopolistic practices is very convincing when they rose to power so recently: how did Amazon get so big in the first place?

So you think that 25-year-old companies can't be monopolies?

> Also, most of the monopolistic practices, of the kind that would allow a company to maintain dominance in spite of merit, are things Amazon is not doing.

Let's I produce and market a product, i.e. the Iron Gym pull up bar that goes in your door frame. I start selling it on Amazon. Amazon then leverages their platform to identify successful products, identifies my Iron Gym pull up bars are successful, creates an Amazon Basics pull up bar that's identical, and uses their platform to boost their pull up bar over mine. So I take all the initiative, do all the work, and take all the risk, and once I show that I have merit, Amazon swoops in and takes all the rewards. How is that not maintaining dominance in spite of merit?

This is just one case. There are many.

> It's monopolistic practices are limited to it's own platform.

And what a limitation that is, being limited to the largest online sales platform in the world!


> How does it benefit society

In general I don't give a rat's ass about the greater good. I'm far more concerned with what's earned and what's right, since I don't have a crystal ball and I'm not a Culture Mind. But for the sake of civil argument and all that, let's talk about the greater good...

> (now) that Amazon was first to sell stuff online at scale?

You mean letting people reap the rewards of being first, if they can get them, doesn't motivate them to innovate further? Doesn't motivate others to innovate? Doesn't indicate a stable market and encourage investment?

> So you think that 25-year-old companies can't be monopolies?

That's not my point at all! I'm also hard pressed to imagine how you thought it was, but I'll try to be more clear. As I understood it, you were saying that essentially the only reason Amazon is as powerful as it is now is because it acted monopolistically. But to act in such a way, you already have to be in a position of wealth and power, to throw your weight around like that. So my question is, how did Amazon get that powerful originally, so that it could become monopolistic (assuming that it is, now)? My answer is, because it was really good at what it did.

> Let's I produce and market a product, i.e. the Iron Gym pull up bar that goes in your door frame. I start selling it on Amazon. Amazon then leverages their platform to identify successful products, identifies my Iron Gym pull up bars are successful, creates an Amazon Basics pull up bar that's identical, and uses their platform to boost their pull up bar over mine. So I take all the initiative, do all the work, and take all the risk, and once I show that I have merit, Amazon swoops in and takes all the rewards.

Now I'm confused. First, you talk about the greater good and dismiss my comments by saying that's what really matters. Now, all of the sudden, when it comes to companies that aren't Amazon, it's about merit and what you've earned again? How does it serve the good of society (now) for Iron Gym to reap the benefits of being first, to paraphrase a man I met once?

And then, you talk about how they should get the benefits of being first to market--- why should they, but not Amazon? Because Amazon is too successful now?

> How is that not maintaining dominance in spite of merit?

Because the only reason someone would choose Amazon's product instead of theirs is because it's better. Either A) it's cheaper, B) it gets faster shipping, C) it's easier to find, or D) some combination of the three. It's better.

> And what a limitation that is, being limited to the largest online sales platform in the world!

Ha ha. But seriously, my point is that they aren't using the government to crush competitors, or anything of the sort. They are influencing their own product, which they maintain and own.


> In general I don't give a rat's ass about the greater good.

Well, there ya go.


> Well, there ya go.

Really? That's it? You're not going to actually engage with what I have to say? Not going to defend your mutually contradictory statements? I'm not sure, but the fact that you're left doing another ad homenim and appeal to emotion leaves me thinking that I might have won this argument...


> You're not going to actually engage with what I have to say?

There are well-intentioned people with opinions similar to yours, and I'm happy to engage with those people, because we want the same things--our disagreement is about how to get those things.

But you aren't well-intentioned. You said, "In general I don't give a rat's ass about the greater good." There isn't any logic that's going to make you care about something you don't care about. You're beyond reasoning with. So no, I'm not going to engage what you've said.

> I'm not sure, but the fact that you're left doing another ad homenim and appeal to emotion leaves me thinking that I might have won this argument...

If quoting you makes you look so bad that you consider quoting you to be an ad hominem attack, maybe say better things?


> Amazon can be an evil empire, AND their opposition can also be evil corporations that do evil things like organize fake grassroots campaigns. These are not mutually exclusive ideas.

I'm perfectly aware of that. The point is that everybody is echoing with the message, and not really worried about the delivery at all. Furthermore, if the delivery is suspect here I'm trying to suggest we should examine why we hate Amazon so much, and whether it's justified.

> "Violence" is a word with a meaning, ... If you have to resort to this sort of sophistry to make your point, your point is probably not correct.

I'm aware of that, thank you. If you have to resort to such sophistry maybe your point isn't correct! (Although I'm not actually saying that yet lol)

> and it isn't happening here. No one has been so much as bruised.

Not right now, obviously. But where does the government's power to enforce things come from? Violence. Whenever you are trying to use the government to force people to do things, it's from a position of the threat of violence. That's the nature of the beast. That's also why I qualified it with "institutionalized", which you seem to have conveniently ignored. The government represents an implied threat of violence used to back the power of an institution that abstract actual violence away (most of the time). This is why people often can't see the violence; and because of that I find it helpful to point it out more explicitly.

> It's clear that you do not understand the concept of a monopoly.

I know what the government defines as a monopoly, and would say Amazon skirts that line VERY closely. But I'm trying to get people from just saying, "it's a monopoly" and leaving it at that. That lets the connotation of the word do all the legwork, when we should be examining exactly what the real behavior is and whether it's actually wrong and something we should be attacking them for. It's all well and good to talk about the Law, but sometimes we have to talk about ethics and rights, too.


> I'm perfectly aware of that. The point is that everybody is echoing with the message, and not really worried about the delivery at all. Furthermore, if the delivery is suspect here I'm trying to suggest we should examine why we hate Amazon so much, and whether it's justified.

So examine it. Your post certainly has done nothing to challenge whatever assumptions you think people are making.

> Not right now, obviously. But where does the government's power to enforce things come from? Violence. That's the nature of the beast. That's also why I qualified it with "institutionalized", which you seem to have conveniently ignored. The government represents an implied threat of violence used to back the power of an institution that abstract actual violence away (most of the time). This is why people often can't see the violence; and because of that I find it helpful to point it out more explicitly.

So you're saying, "All regulation is insitutionalized violence." Okay...

> I know what the government defines as a monopoly, and would say Amazon skirts that line VERY closely. But I'm trying to get people from just saying, "it's a monopoly" and leaving it at that. That lets the connotation of the word do all the legwork, when we should be examining exactly what the real behavior is and whether it's actually wrong and something we should be attacking them for. It's all well and good to talk about the Law, but sometimes we have to talk about ethics and rights, too.

So examine it. Your post certainly has done nothing to challenge whatever assumptions you think people are making.


> So examine it. Your post certainly has done nothing to challenge whatever assumptions you think people are making. > So examine it. Your post certainly has done nothing to challenge whatever assumptions you think people are making.

What do you think I'm getting to? And in that very comment I do, as well: I spoke about how it was their right to do what they want with their platform, spoke about how we're criticizing something for being too good and how it conveniently serves the purposes of organizations with alterior motives. Among other things. And there is nothing wrong with trying to start a conversation and shake people out of their preconceived thoughts on the matter, which I demonstrably have succeded at if you read the rest of the thread. The rest of the commentary on the post was becoming a uniform big-company-bashing and I've tangibly changed that. Not good enough, I guess?

Also, it's really not funny to just copy and paste answers like that. I'm taking it as a joke because it's kinda funny and sometimes stuff like that doesn't come through well in a text based medium, but heads up in case you weren't aware that's really passive agressive. (:

> So you're saying, "All regulation is insitutionalized violence." Okay...

Yeah, essentially. Are you going to engage with the point, or are you just going to make fun and appeal to emotion and it's obvious rediculousness?


>> So you're saying, "All regulation is insitutionalized violence." Okay...

> Yeah, essentially.

Nifty! If all appeals to government intervention are by definition violent, then that would mean that, for example, filing a sexual harassment lawsuit or pressing charges against a kidnapper is actually just, "solving the problem by resorting to violence." That really spices up a headline.

As someone else mentioned, words have meanings. We all (well most of us, apparently) agree that given words refer to specific things. That's how we communicate. Appropriating a word with the desired connotation to an arbitrary definition just because you can find a way in which they're associated -- that's misleading. It's using inapplicable words intentionally, for the purpose of causing others to incorrectly understand what you're talking about.

It turns out we have a special word that refers precisely to that very type of communication: "lying."


> Nifty! If all appeals to government intervention are by definition violent, then that would mean that, for example, filing a sexual harassment lawsuit or pressing charges against a kidnapper is actually just, "solving the problem by resorting to violence."

Yeah, it is, and that's great! A kidnapper and sexual harasser deserve, morally, to be dealt with with violence, or the threat of it. Do you think that they deserve a gentle hand and a hug? I don't.

The reason I said "resort" in the original post, and the reason I meant it as a bad thing, is because corporations have other, proper, ways of dealing with their competitors. Says they're supposed to use solely, but aren't here. A sexual victem, however, not only has no other recourse (really) but is using the proper route for dealing with it! So yes, they're solving it that way, but that's not a bad thing in this case.

The other thing is that, institutionalized violence usually has a decision mechanism (the judges and the law) and such that make it superior, usually, to regular old violence for actually solving problems. It still retains it's basic nature as violence or the threat of it, but the texture is different. I propose that that's actually why people don't freak out about a lawsuit and such: because it's not vigilante justice, not because it's not violence. We just often forget that it's veiled, controlled violence at all, because our justice system is generally good enough that we don't have to think about it. That's why bringing charges against a sexual harasser or a kidnapper isn't outrageous: we are using violence against them, but we'll be using a mechanism first to decide if it's warranted. My point with saying that in my OG post is just to make people realize what is really trying to be weilded against Amazon. Especially since this sort of decision doesn't really get a level headed hearing usually.

> As someone else mentioned, words have meanings. We all (well most of us, apparently) agree that given words refer to specific things. That's how we communicate. Appropriating a word with the desired connotation to an arbitrary definition just because you can find a way in which they're associated -- that's misleading. It's using inapplicable words intentionally, for the purpose of causing others to incorrectly understand what you're talking about.

Both you and the other guy conveniently forget that I was saying "institutionalized violence" not direct violence. It's like the difference between a threat of violence and the real present thing, but reiefied into an institution. And the way in which they're associated, when qualified by the proper words, makes sense and is clear-- I'm not just redefining violence. But you don't like the definition so you ignore the qualifications so that you can tear it down. Straw-man-style.

Furthermore, your and his reactions to what I've pointed out are interesting. Do you disagree that the government's power is based on the threat of violence? Probably not. You just don't like it called out like that, you prefer to leave it unsaid because it makes the whole thing seem nicer.

But that's my point. I'm not trying to say that the government is evil or bad all the time, or that anyone who uses the government is evil or bad. I'm saying that they're using violence. Sometimes that's warranted. Sometimes its even, in my opinion, morally required. We should just be clear about what we're doing instead of hiding what's really happening under the hood because we don't like how it sounds. The government is a fell weapon, so to speak, not a child's plaything. We should be aware of how we use it and what we tell it to do. Having it deal with sexual harassers and kidnappers (what do you think they'll do, if you win the suit? Arrest them? Fine them? What is an arrest or a fine except force?) is great, and right. Letting it be manipulated by corporations who find it convenient, is probably not.

> It turns out we have a special word that refers precisely to that very type of communication: "lying."

It's actually not. Lying would be using the appropriate words to make someone understand exactly what you're talking about, but just talking about something false, which is not what I'm doing. Using the wrong words so people don't understand what you're saying is called poor communication or a misunderstanding, which I might be guilty of, but that's the worst you could charge me with. Nice ad homenim though. Almost got me!


> > So you're saying, "All regulation is insitutionalized violence." Okay...

> Yeah, essentially.

Amazing! You're literally arguing that 18 U.S. Code § 1111[1] is institutionalized violence.

> Are you going to engage with the point, or are you just going to make fun and appeal to emotion and it's obvious rediculousness?

My general approach to debate is that the person I'm debating with is not going to be persuaded no matter what I do. The person I'm trying to persuade isn't you, it's anyone else reading our conversation. So no, I won't engage this point, because I assume the audience is smart enough to figure why your point is irrelevant on their own. That is what "obvious" means, after all.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1111


But it's not irrelevant, and I explain that in my response to the other reply to this. I also explained in that comment what I think of your link and all that, if you want to read it. But sure. I went into this knowing you probably weren't going to be convinced either, but I at least wanted to lay out my thoughts clearly and accurately for you and others to see. I sort of expected a mutual respect from you, but it's (not sarcastic here) fine if you don't want to do that, it's not like you owe anything to me or anything.

I genuinely enjoyed this conversation, you don't meet people on the internet often that are willing to discuss things at length, and I hope you have a good rest of your day!


> But it's not irrelevant, and I explain that in my response to the other reply to this.

It's irrelevant, because it's a noncentral fallacy[1]. To quote Scott Alexander:

> Suppose someone wants to build a statue honoring Martin Luther King Jr. for his nonviolent resistance to racism. An opponent of the statue objects: "But Martin Luther King was a criminal!"

> Any historian can confirm this is correct. A criminal is technically someone who breaks the law, and King knowingly broke a law against peaceful anti-segregation protest - hence his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

> But in this case calling Martin Luther King a criminal is the noncentral. The archetypal criminal is a mugger or bank robber. He is driven only by greed, preys on the innocent, and weakens the fabric of society. Since we don't like these things, calling someone a "criminal" naturally lowers our opinion of them.

> The opponent is saying "Because you don't like criminals, and Martin Luther King is a criminal, you should stop liking Martin Luther King." But King doesn't share the important criminal features of being driven by greed, preying on the innocent, or weakening the fabric of society that made us dislike criminals in the first place. Therefore, even though he is a criminal, there is no reason to dislike King.

In this case, you calling regulation violence is the noncentral. The archetypical violence is assault. It is driven by anger, causes great physical harm to victims, and causes fear in the community. Since we don't like these things, calling something "violence" generally makes us think that thing is bad.

You're really saying, "Because you don't like violence, and regulation is violence, you should stop liking regulation." But regulation doesn't share the important features of being driven by anger, causing great phsyical harm to victims, and fear in the community that made us dislike violence in the first place. Therefore, even if regulation is in theory backed up by the possibility of violence (which is a bit of a stretch to begin with), there is no reason to care. It's utterly irrelevant to any reasonable conversation.

[1] https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yCWPkLi8wJvewPbEp/the-noncen...


Personally that's why I tend to like the American anti-trust standard of consumer welfare, and it bothers me that politicians are trying to dislodge it.

It really does bother me when the facets of the complaints against the giants boil down to basically, they're too good at that, or they can do things that others can't. At a blunt level, isn't that the point?

Isn't it what we want? When we talk about services, not petroleum, I find it difficult to see nearly the deep damage that their market positions would cause in a different line of business.


> they can do things that others can't.

when they start to be so influential and market shaping that the 'things they can do that others cant' threatens to be 'sell products effectively enough to survive independently' or 'compete in this space at all, even with massive backing' then no, this is not what we want.

granted, I don't think amazon is there yet, but they are certainly making impact.


Well said. Exactly!


Large companies always use the government - when they can - to kneecap their competition. It's the very rare exception of a corporation that won't stoop to that level of behavior. There's practically an unlimited number of excuses a company can come up with to rationalize proceeding (with using the government as a leveling club).

It's exactly what many of Microsoft's peers did in the 1990s. They waged a large, persistent campaign across years to convince the government to pursue and break up Microsoft. Larry Ellison went so far as to basically purchase trash from a cleaning company to get at info related to lobbyists supporting Microsoft's position.[1] Some of it was spot on, Microsoft was doing what they claimed; some of it was nothing more than ugly, base envy, jealousy, greed.

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/diving-bills-trash-161599


Exactly. I've always had an issue with the whole incident where everyone went after Microsoft.


Amazon is a corporation. Corporations do not have inherent rights. They have powers defined by law[1]. Laws are enacted by governments instituted by the people (you and me) who are sovereign but delegate limited powers in order to live in a society.

Jeff Bezos, as a human being, has intrinsic and inalienable human rights recognized by the Constitution of the United States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The ability to run his business under the aegis of a limited-liability corporation is not one of them.

1: A corporation's legally defined powers are generally described as "rights" because people tend to be sloppy in their use of language, do not appreciate correction, and often mistake precision for pedantry.


> Corporations do not have inherent rights.

That's not exactly true. Corporations have many of the same rights. For example, in Citizens United vs FEC, the Supreme Court wrote that:

"The Court has recognized that First Amendment protection extends to corporations (...) The Court has thus rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not 'natural persons'."

(page 25 in https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf )

If the First Amendment is the recognition of a right, then corporations have that right, just like natural persons. This concept in the US is called "corporate personhood" and it has long been recognized by courts:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood#Case_law_...

> In 1818, the United States Supreme Court decided Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward (...) Beginning with this opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has continuously recognized corporations as having the same rights as natural persons to contract and to enforce contracts.


Even if “corporate personhood” wasn’t a thing, any form of organization, incorporated or otherwise, like a church, would still have speech rights under the first amendment. “Corporate personhood” isn’t really a single concept under which contracts and land ownership and speech all work the same as if it were a person. It’s a bag of different concepts.


>in the hopes that it will let them use the apparatus of government to hobble said competitor in any way without repercussions

This is the problem nowadays. We can't really trust anybody. The threats to our privacy and freedoms are coming from every quarter.

And the worst part is,

that some of the people and organizations telling us about the threats to our freedoms and privacy, are, in fact, likely the biggest threats to our freedoms and privacy.


I'm not exactly sure what you think the threats are, but it doesn't matter. This is a very correct sentiment! Well said.


> Instead, we just go along with this fake-grassroots idea of "oh yeah Amazon is an evil empire"?

Perhaps people really feel that Amazon is an evil empire regardless of this competitor's actions.


I think the point is that the danger may be more with the competitor than with Amazon.

Or even worse, they're all equally terrible. Which would mean that no matter what we do, we lose privacy and freedoms.

The public is being manipulated into taking actions directly contradictory to its own good either way.

One road to death and despair, the other to disease and destruction.

You could say, "choose wisely", but it doesn't really look like it matters.


I think we're still better off if we have multiple equally terrible competitors keeping each other in check than one dominant company unrestrained.


Sure, but using the government to enforce the destruction of competitors and new entrants is the shortest way to that outcome. If Walmart wants to compete, that's great. If they want to destroy their competitors, that's... Less so.


And at the same time, when you do that, you turn a 9mm round that's flying at you, into a shotgun blast.

This whole thing requires more thoughtful consideration. You're talking about "better" off, but we are "best" off without any of the terrible competitors even having the ability to play the game.

Instead of going the anti-trust route for instance, we may just want to make the entire practice of using private data for any commercial reason at all, expressly illegal. Collecting private data at all, should be expressly illegal without the consent of the individual in question. Like a HIPAA-GDPR combo move, except with prison time.

Basically pursuing solutions like that, we should get serious with all these guys.


> Instead, we just go along with this fake-grassroots idea of "oh yeah Amazon is an evil empire"? This doesn't process for me.

The idea predates the astroturfing effort, which glommed on to it because the idea was popular, resilient, and convenient.

The fact that it serves certain other companies’ interests to promote the idea doesn't invalidate it.


"superior" us what you call forced Prime subscription and tonight's server over-pricing ? Or is it when a company obviously in position or power is still asking for monetary help ?

I'm not sure I agree with your définition of superior.


> And before you talk about how Amazon acts monopolistically by promoting their own or favorite products, it's their platform,

Just like Windows was Microsoft's platform and anyone was free to install whatever browser they wanted... Use Netscape all you want!


>Amazon is so superior to the competition

I think too much efficiency in retail allows people to over-consume, and is a net negative for the environment and mental health... so i would support initiatives like this from a purely philosophical worldview.

progress isn't always progress.


Sure except that from a mental health standpoint, that's a highly personal view, and not something that is really viable to enforce for a government. It's also not really verifiable on enough cases to make a blanket ruling a good idea. By all means get the word out about overconsumption, but don't have the government force the people to act in their "higher self interest" by removing their ability to get access to efficient retail. I know a lot of people on HN love the idea that people are stupid and we need to regulate them to make them positively free, but that's not a great path to go down for a lot of reasons.

On the environmental side, I think climate change is real, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as everyone says it is, and I find it odd that the solution to every upcoming crisis is always more socialism, and then we get more socialism but it doesn't help and then the date of the crisis passes and we go on to a new one.


you lumped me with the left wing climate change, socialist group but I'm much more skewed toward the right-wing views like Charles Lindbergh, Ted Kaczynski, Pentti Linkola (anti-technological progress, connection to the soil, to your local community, to the seasons, etc.)

Its not just climate change i care about, it species extinction. I work remote on my own land in the mountains and definitely notice less birds singing.

> except that from a mental health standpoint, that's a highly personal view

suicide rates and drug addiction in our modern society say otherwise


> you lumped me with the left wing climate change, socialist group but I'm much more skewed toward the right-wing views like Charles Lindbergh, Ted Kaczynski, Pentti Linkola (anti-technological progress, connection to the soil, to your local community, to the seasons, etc.)

Well that's basically just pastoral socialism, and very similar to what the left advocates anyway. I didn't actually know what you believed when I wrote that and tried not to assume, I was more processing my own experience with that. Furthermore my bigger point, using hysterics and fear tactics to push an agenda, still stands.

> suicide rates and drug addiction in our modern society say otherwise

Is that because of overconsumption though?


I'm surprised more cyberpunk authors didn't anticipate that wars between corporations wouldn't be fought using hackers or "street samurai", but with teams of propagandists competing to do a better job of bullshitting the general public.

Yes, I'm calling marketers and advertisers propagandists. As far as I'm concerned, marketing and advertising are nothing but private-sector psyops.


As a recovering marketer I take no offense to that statement. I started my exit from the field when I was working with a PR firm that was running a "behavior modification" campaign. Psyops presumably has regulations and oversight; marketing has nothing of the sort. Want to convince a billion people to drink an addictive chemical known to cause colon cancer? Classic.


Was that a hypothetical..? If not, are you at liberty to share which chemical?


I was referring to Coca-cola, consistently among the top advertisers in the world. Often things that are so large and commonplace, its difficult for us to see them as anything but 'normal'.


I thought to myself "that's a bit much, like advertising could trick me into drinking a dangerous beverage" then read your follow-up comment and realized I'm holding a coke in my other hand.


Insidious, isn't it? It's moments like this that I wish to all the devils ever worshiped by man that the left had jumped on the "red pill" metaphor from The Matrix instead of leaving it for misogynists and reactionaries to appropriate.

Because until the Wachowski sisters brought in the "Neo is the One" plotline with the attendant messianic tropes, the relationship between Morpheus and Thomas Anderson/Neo was one of a union organizer showing a worker blinded by false consciousness exactly how he allowed himself to be conned by his bosses.


That's what I figured from the "Classic." bit, but I didn't want to spoil it for everybody else. :)


I'm thinking high-fructose corn syrup or brominated vegetable oil.


Are you referring to alcohol or something else?


Check out the ingredients on your favorite soft drink. There's probably all sorts of stuff listed that has been shown to cause cancer in rats.


It’s odd how that goes. We are never going to subject as many monkeys to coke as people drinking the stuff. So we need to compromise, but rats are not a great model resulting in some false positives. However, presumably some false negatives exist that are silently killing hundreds of thousands of people.


I would like to think that any scientist who dared propose giving to monkeys the equivalent by body mass of the amount of Coca-Cola many humans consume per day would get publicly crucified by an ethics board.


Oranges, Mangos, Black Pepper, and lots of other natural things cause cancer in rats


I don't know about you, but I find it easier to consume massive quantities of Coca-Cola than I do black pepper.


Oranges and mangoes, on the other hand...


I've never been able to eat an entire orange or an entire mango. But drinking an entire two-liter bottle of Coke over the course of a couple of hours while coding or writing?

That's easy. That's why I'm fat.


Drinking the same amount of OJ will also make you fat. If OJ is too tart choose another type of orange like mandarin oranges. They're just as cancerous to rats and you can drink them like fruit punch as they are not tart.

The point is "gives rats cancer" bascially has no meaning. As another example chocolate is poison to dogs. Does that mean humans shouldn't eat chocolate foods or drink chocolate drinks?

Humans also eat plently of things that are toxic. Most spicy peppers are toxic if eaten in the quantities needed to induce by other substances in rats. So is vinegar, wine, cheese, pickles, ...

Ever heard of that super toxic dihydrogen oxide. About 360,000 people die every year from it, some with as little 120grams (1/2 a cup)


What about in humans at normal doses?


We're running a half-assed trial on the general public right now, only without a defined "normal dose", control group, compensation, or informed consent.


I would recommend "The Space Merchants" by Cyril Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl, and also the sequel, "The Merchants' War" by Frederik Pohl. They predate the cyberpunk era, but you'll find what you're looking for in them.


Thanks. Adding them to my TBR list now. Frederick Pohl is one of those classic sf authors that I know I should read but have yet to get around to.


Framed that way, it actually appears quite logical, because hacking and killing is illegal, whereas bullshitting is not, so it's the path of least resistance. Sueing is legal too, so propagandists and lawyers it is…


It bears mentioning that SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) can extremely effective if you want to create a chilling effect against opposition.

Case in point: how much negative media coverage of Peter Thiel do you see after he sued Gawker into the ground for dragging him out of the closet?

Thiel claimed that being exposed as gay "ruined lives", but involuntary public exposure prominent closeted individuals has long been an effective tactic in non-violent combat against conservative public officials and religious leaders who use their position to infringe on the rights of LGBT individuals. A man of Thiel's wealth and influence is surely fair game for similar treatment.


This world truly is a boring dystopia.


Amazing quote. I love the concept of "Boring Dystopia." Might have to name a song that.


There’s a good subreddit which focuses on the boring dystopian subject. Highly recommended if it’s your type of subject matter.


Echos of "banality of evil".


How about "Beige Tyranny"?


Yeah, I know. I mean, what kind of half-assed dystopia can be described by lyrics from a thirty-year-old rock opera like Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime (EMI, 1988)?


I recommend "Jennifer Government". Still plenty of violence, but all in the name of PR. And a darn good read.


I've read that. But I don't think that's what many people think of when they think of cyberpunk. I was thinking more along the lines of works like Neuromancer and Snow Crash, and all of the writers who rode William Gibson's coattails (or parodied the genre as Neal Stephenson did). Not to mention cyberpunk RPGs like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020.


Hm. Maybe it's taking the "punk" part to literal that prevents getting better stories. I mean, the point (as far as there is one) of punk is anti-corporatism, anti-fascism, combined with direct action.

That'll end up in street warfare one way or another. I'm honestly not sure how an actual punk story involving psy-ops would even look like. (Sure, the setup might be different, but sooner or later, heads are going to be knocked)


I think that a "-punk" story with direct action and psy-ops would probably incorporate culture jamming. Are you familiar with the term?

https://www.thoughtco.com/culture-jamming-3026194


I wasn't - thank you for introducing me to it!


I first heard about it from AdBusters.

https://www.adbusters.org/


IIRC "Distraction" by Bruce Sterling covers that sort of thing.


Thanks. I'll have to check that out.


Oh, Brave New World, that has such creatures in't!

(Ok, not corps, but definitely psyops.)

Some Stephenson gets close, most especially the Snowcrash / Diamond Age arc.

(Which I'd like to see him continue.)


How is that not what Nineteen Eighty Four is partly about?


1984 has newspeak, doublethink and a protagonist who's job is falsifying the newspaper archive. But everything is state owned, so it's "us vs the system" not the cyberpunk "Walmart vs Amazon" happening here.


Makes sense, competing vs. centralized fascisms.


[flagged]


Preaching to the choir.


I suppose the second columnist was more right:

https://www.theonion.com/the-future-will-be-a-totalitarian-g...


I was trying to stick to the topic, rather than going off on a tangent about corporate newspeak. Not to mention the doublethink we all engage in just to remain employable in the tech industry.


By that logic, my Tinder profile is nothing but self-sanctioned psyops manipulating people into liking me.

I can use scary words to describe mundane things too.


You're like the Devil on the cover of Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast album[1]. You think you've got Eddie dancing to your tune, but you don't see the strings Eddie is using to make you dance to his tune.

1: https://imgur.com/a/XOzzWnZ


dude that’s deep and all but are you gonna pass the blunt or what


If you're going to be like that, then I think I'll bogart it. :)


"Campaign against Amazon funded by those that are against Amazon" might be burying the lede.

Far more interesting imho:

>The grass-roots support cited by the group was also not what it appeared to be. The labor union says it was listed as a member of the group without permission and says a document purporting to show that it gave permission has a forged signature. The Boston professor says the group, with his permission, ghost-wrote an op-ed for him about Amazon but that he didn’t know he would be named as a member. The California businessman was dead for months before his name was removed from the group’s website this year.


And if you make it all the way to the bottom of the article, there's this gem:

> Service Employees International ... was named as a member [of the fake grass roots org] without permission...Marathon [PR firm for the fake grass roots org] emailed to the Journal a membership agreement that the agency said had been signed by Gilda Valdez, the chief of staff for the union local, dated July 23, 2018. But Ms. Valdez said that the signature on the documents provided by Marathon was not hers.

And the article shows Ms. Valdez' real signature and the one on the document for comparison, and one is clearly a clumsy copy of the other. IANAL, but isn't this fraud?


I think the takeaway is companies should compete on ethics but be transparent about it. If corporations openly call out each other's malignant actions that's a huge win for us all in holding them to a higher standard.

I don't believe the "poor Amazon" angle for a moment though. A lot of the "campaign" against Amazon takes place in EU courtrooms where no rival company is focusing our attention on their transgressions. A lot of stuff Amazon chooses to do is morally unjust and should be illegal - they choose to include bathroom break time with productivity calculations that determines who gets fired. Bezoz just clawed back 1900 workers' healthcare to indistinguishably enrich himself.

France fined them for abusing vendors -

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/04/france-fines-ama...

EU is investigating them to see if they abuse vendors with the vendors' own sales data -

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/19/eu-probing-amazons-use-of-da...

Reversing corrupt tax deals -

https://www.newsmax.com/Finance/StreetTalk/amazon-apple-tax-...


A lot of the "campaign" against Amazon takes place in EU courtrooms where no rival company is focusing our attention on their transgressions.

It seems unlikely that competitors have no influence on what the EU chooses to pursue in courts.


Being from EU with decent contact to EU parliament... EU officials really don’t need much encouragement. The passion to regulate everything burns deeply.


Like with law enforcement, it is a target rich environment. There are many more possible cases to litigate than time or personnel to do it. So cases get chosen for a variety of reasons. Public good, self promotion, lobbying by competitors, etc...


The most likely way it happened was a multitude of complaints received in workers-rights or competition institutions because that's a formal way to complain about companies doing unfair stuff, and when Amazon abuses their workforce or vendors it affects a LOT of people with the right to turn to these institutions. These institutions will default to having paperwork supporting their process and decisions as they routinely need to use the legal system to solve problems. I think it is very unlikely a competitor could orchestrate these consequences for Amazon's actions.


As the 28th largest company in the world, there are not very many targets larger than Amazon, and most of them have also been targeted by the EU over something.


Grassroots organizing is dead. Nowadays you have a bunch of groups funded by ridiculously wealthy foundations and donors who are chasing the ghost of grassroots organizing which has been dead for years.

I work for a small nonprofit which claims to run grassroots advocacy campaigns. We are in the environmental sector, but I'm sure it is similar in other areas. A solid 70% of our funding comes from large foundations. We pick an issue, get people fired up on social media about it, then call it grassroots just because a bunch of people supported it.


This is why I tend to try to keep a healthy skepticism about a great deal of the negative press on Amazon's warehouse working conditions, pushes to unionize, etc. So much of it lacks real context needed to actually inform, and just looks like click-bait or campaigns to drive negative sentiment, or to inhibit their ability to perform.

And really, that should I guess be the default way one consume's news in general, no matter what its about. (Even the parent article!)


While skeptism is always healthy, a lot of the flack Amazon is getting seems pretty legit.

Competitors might be piling in it and pushing it under the spotlight、even exaggerate parts of it, but of lot of Amazon’s operations is still provably shitty.

For instance what part of the warehouse working condition do you think is completely fabricated ?


The part where somehow that’s abnormal for warehouse workers.

Warehouse work is hard and low paid. Working for Amazon is working for one of the best warehouse jobs but that doesn’t make it easy work. I’ve seen article about long days and injuries and such and they never bring up industry hours or wages or injury rates. So I suspect they are negative PR.

So I don’t think they are fabricated, but they are misleading.


They’re violating rules and it’s not without any consequences though [ex 0]

It also looks to me the same as child labor in developing countries for instance. It might be par for the course but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be against it, or turn a blind eye on the big players participating in it, or ignore reports.

Basically I don’t see how it’a misleading when it’s a reality thy is shared across an industry. Just as Apple gets press when factory workers suicide after bruning out, Amazon getting press for their warehouse is nothing unnatural.

[0] https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2017/11/09/470...


> Warehouse work is hard and low paid. Working for Amazon is working for one of the best warehouse jobs but that doesn’t make it easy work. I’ve seen article about long days and injuries and such and they never bring up industry hours or wages or injury rates. So I suspect they are negative PR.

Yep, exactly. There's no basis from which you can judge on Amazon's (or anyone's) warehouse conditions, unless you have that context - what is typical? How is work life in other major warehouse operations?

Maybe Amazon is an outlier... but for all we know, they might be an outlier in a positive way, compared to the competition. You can't know without context.


My limited understanding is that Amazon is the best when it comes to warehouse work-highest wages, healthcare, etc.

I would love a good review of the warehouse industry. But I think it’s ultimately boring. The few articles I’ve read about Amazon are pretty useless and imagine they are a modern day The Jungle or something. But I don’t think warehouse work is meatpacking.


That it is not abnormal doesn't make it okay. Just because something is normal doesn't mean something should be normal. Further, people don't think it should be this way there and how it is elsewhere has no bearing on that fact. This is whataboutism.


The point is, if you don't have the context, you are operating from a position of ignorance. What if conditions do suck and are terribly miserable at Amazon's warehouses? But... what if, despite that, the conditions are actually better than typical warehouse jobs? In that case, by singling out Amazon, you are actually punishing them for having better warehouse conditions than anyone, and helping their competitors where the workers are worse off.


No context is needed to want conditions to change: conditions at amazon aren't the way people want them to be, regardless of any context.


Context is absolutely needed. How can I possibly want a particular condition at Amazon if I don’t understand it. For example, is $18 too low? Is 8-10 hour manual labor days bad? I can’t say I’m against the working conditions unless I know what typical working conditions are. And if Amazon is the best of all possible conditions for unskilled warehouse work then me calling for change at Amazon is way less effective than for some other place where my attention will have more impact.

This idea of “any change is good” is dangerous because it ignores opportunity cost. An example is that it can actually be bad to raise awareness for a rare disease if it takes away donations from a common disease. It can cost lives and do harm because dollars become less effective.

Focusing on the wrong thing can be worse than apathy and it seems really weird that people can form opinions without data and facts. Especially in a world where PR bullshit can form such emotional reactions.


One can understand whether a group of people's needs are met or not without further context, pretty trivial.


How is understanding someone’s needs trivial? There are so many factors that determine need. Many that I would never reveal to a stranger. Needs vary substantially just based on demographics. A 60 year old needs more than an 18 year old. A single parent with two kids needs less than two parents with two kids. A family of 8 needs more than a family of 3. A short person needs fewer calories than a tall person. Etc etc.

But I may be rare in my inability to understand people’s needs without any data. I don’t know much about warehouse workers. I need much more information than an astroturf ad on Instagram/new outlet tells me.


They've communicated their needs. Look there for more information.


Right, that’s kind of the point of the thread. That is one side and not based on facts. It’s important to consider those communications with reality to assess what change should be made.

Only considering my needs as I say them without any further context will likely lead to inefficient decisions.


Without context, you can't even know how to help their conditions, if you wanted to.

If Amazon is a singularly bad warehouse employer, punishing them in some way (boycotts, etc) might be appropriate.

If Amazon is a singularly good warehouse employer, rewarding them with more business and good PR might be appropriate. It could incentivize the competition to follow suit and Amazon to raise its standards even further to stay ahead.

If Amazon is a typical warehouse employer, then I would find it counter productive to single out Amazon for punishment or reward, rather than the actual good/bad outliers among warehouse operators.

Context matters.


What you write is true, but leaves out the fact that taking down Amazon or putting restrictions on Amazon's warehouse operations can unintentionally make things worse for low-skilled workers if their other employment options are worse than working in an Amazon warehouse.


It could just as well mke them better by raising the standards.


Even if the standards get raised across the warehouse industry, the restrictions might harm low-skilled workers more than it helps them. E.g., they might make it economically rational for Amazon to automate the jobs away. E.g., Amazon might be forced to pass on their higher costs to consumers, causing a transfer of spending from Amazon.com to brick-and-mortar outlets where the jobs for available to low-skilled workers pay even less than the eliminated jobs the Amazon warehouse did.


>they might make it economically rational for Amazon to automate the jobs away

Any jobs that can be automated will be regardless.


or it might not.


Does Oracle really think they are competing with Amazon over a $10B government contract? That’s like Peugeot thinking they are competing with Volvo for a shipping fleet or something.


Yes they are absolutely delusional when it comes to their competitiveness.


Most of the grassroot campaigns, if not all, are organized and financed by individuals and companies for their benefit or for political benefit. In the olden days, loyalty would organize a distant revolt so the king would be forced to march to a distant land. In the meantime, benefits will accumulate, either by making king poorer, distracting him, or by coup d'etat. Same thing here. I don't believe for a moment that any of the grassroot campaigns, either political or business, are spontaneous nowadays. Maybe 0.001% are, but that's it.


Most are spontaneous started out with ideals and outrage but those die unless they meet money..

So the campaigns are real but the scale is faked.


Idk why they don’t just slam them on lead paint and fake products. You could make a fucking Super Bowl level ad and do serious damage to amazon on real issues.


Because they would have to spend years in court litigating whether or not that was slander. Consumers have also been shown to respond better to positive causes than negative ones, and a non-profit funded by these guys is better equipped to spin it as a positive "working for a better future" type thing than them all running "Amazon bad" ads.


Just think of the press that an ad slamming amazon for that stuff would get. Plus you can avoid slander by either doing a real test or just by not naming amazon and implying it’s them.


They need to accept the ad as well. There is a lot of censorship in advertising more than you would expect.


Bezos vs Ellison, now that is a good supervillain showdown.


It's a safe bet that any organization with a name like "Free and Fair Markets Initiative" is corporate astroturfing.


I whole heartedly tried to read this. I couldn't. The constant updates of the stock symbol numbers, grabbing my attention every time, and causing reflows most of the time made it impossible.


It’s funny because the whole “Amazon ambassador” thing is just Amazon doing the same thing in reverse.

What I hate most about the 21st century is how almost nothing feels genuine anymore. The news, any sort of campaign, even “science” in a lot of cases are just people using money to tell us what to think. Maybe it’s been like this for decades and we’re just now waking up to it, but regardless it just makes it all feel hollow


I fear that previously, trying to use money to tell people what to think was ineffective or inefficient, but now the cents-to-sentiments exchange rate is tipping too far.

When communication was one-to-one, you could hire someone to visit a target in person and advocate your position, which made sense only if your revenue from the advocacy was greater than the cost of the employee. Most of the time you wouldn't even start to do this because it would be dumb.

But now communication is now one-to-thousands and it's even cheaper to publish an idea than it used to be. If you can spend $100 to influence 10,000 people to give you $0.10 on average, that will be stupidly profitable, and greedy/amoral corporations will spend that money until the ROI is down to break-even.


That's what postmodern era is. End of belief. IMO that's the fruit of scepticism as a way of life which has become well entrenched in the modern, well educated societies. As if we're in another stage of consequences of eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge (as a society).


The big problem is that it's not true skepticism, it's false skepticism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kzZdps9PG4


I agree. The problem is that "true scepticism" demands a disciplined mind in a relatively stable emotional state. That's not what usually what happens in our daily lives.


Actualised really needs to distill its message to 10-20 minutes max.

I see 1h 16m and close tab.

I've tried watching in the past: tediously repetitious.


This attitude that dumbed-down, 10 second sound-bytes can suffice to examine and grok the nuance and existential dimensionality of the deep topics that he covers is what has lead to such pervading pollution of the information ecology. I would posit to you that you don't have time for shorter videos on these topics, and if you believe that, you will waste your life at a very low-level of communication and awareness around these topics in your attempts at a shortcut to wisdom. Does that sound wise? If it seems repetitious I would see if you can find the subtle differences between what occurs to you as mere repetition.

Or am I just witnessing the damage to attention-span of modern living?

There's lots wrong with this attitude IMHO, even though I am guilty of it in many ways I think that you should be able to see the quality of the messages and place them higher than a lot of other information sources that are blasting at you.


I watch and listen to plenty of good long-form audio/video.

This ain't it.

10 minutes is 60x 10 seconds.

And if you can't get the meat of your argument out in a few minutes, there's something wrong with it.

(And that's windbag-me saying this.)

You're also going a bit overboard with the Actualized videos of late. Might want to give it a break.


I do wonder what an end game looks like for a society that has no strong unified set of beliefs or meaning. Citizens left to themselves to decide meaning (with these “decisions” often co-opted by influence professionals whose job is to inject values and extract cash from consumers)


It's not a decision so much as lots of difficult emotional labor that almost nobody in our society is prepared or willing to do. Absolute Truth is accessible to your direct experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvaPmKQVIuQ


Soon "tell us what to think" will be so subversive that most people might not have any way to combat it. Experiments have shown that leading questions can create memories where none previously existed, and how fragile and inaccurate our memories are. I don't know if that makes times interesting or terrifying.

It's come to the point where I seriously toy with handing off most of my decision making process to statistics. Mathematics has derived an algorithm for a lot of real world decision making that is superior to what the vast majority of humans can do, and I'm not sure which group I'm in: the ones that make really poor emotional decisions (although "luck" and emotions are tied together, according to more research I've read; luck might just be a way of thinking), or if I'm able to make well informed decisions based on data.


Unless you are directly plumbing the depths of data and doing computations, I worry using “statistics” to make decisions will just bias your thinking in subtler ways: towards what you’re already aware of, estimates that could be faulty, information availability bias. Except in some ways it’s more dangerous because it carries the veneer of mathematical correctness


Statistics based on what? Almost all statistics you can collect will be based on what other people do, so there's no escaping that bias. You're better off thinking for yourself, and being cautious about making any decision that affects your future.


In my opinion, this is a good kind of hate, and any genuine activity of the type you're talking about has grown from it, not just in the last few decades but for millenia. Groups pressure us to feel comfortable with their version of reality and use that comfort as a means of control. The natural inclination might be to find other people offering different ideas that feel more genuine, and genuine connections certainly do have value, but if those people try to make you comfortable with their own version of things in the same way, they're probably not much different than the people that left you dissatisfied in the first place.


Yes, in the 80's we would call such things cheesy, today they are the standard. Just we kinda accept it for what it is, equally accept that some people will fall for the cheese and enjoy the cheese. So it carries on as the norm. Then, when you get a good, fair - non-brain insulting advert or product, your like just wow - thank you. Though they can alienate most of the cheese lovers out there.

But I'm sure there is some science behind it, might be the case that marketing whent - lets target the average IQ and go for the masses and with that. We get lots of cheese.

As an aside - some aspects of today's marketing remind me in part of an old TV show https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Headroom_(TV_series)


I don’t think marketing only applies to people with low IQs. There are many “prestigious” magazines and newspapers, mostly marketed towards educated professionals, that get a huge portion of their articles ghost written by PR firms.

The majority of content is sponsored in some shape or form, and all content is biased towards the interests of the publishers and authors.

Sure you may not buy a certain car because of the music in the commercial, or positively view some corporate ambassador saying “80% of our cocoa does not come from child labor!” but there is much more to corporate propaganda than that.


Astroturfing has been happening for as long as I've been online.


But now we have the technology to automate and scale it.


It is scary how much more mechanized and automated its become and the reach via the smartphone interface terminals,

but at the meta level, I think most people growing up with the internet know to a fundamental level that they are being manipulated and tracked.

Alas they may be resigned to it as a reality, but people in the older generations are so gullible to frighteningly basic propaganda.


Yea it’s not new. Money converts freely and losslessly into speech, so it’s difficult to distinguish truth from a paid message. When you see a tweet or watch a YouTube video or read a comment on HN or hear a product endorsement from an acquaintance or hear a journalist tell you that something is “science“, how do you know it’s not paid for?


Enemy of my enemy...


... is probably still your enemy, but may be useful.




Quelle suprise!


I'm skeptical of the substance of this article because WSJ and Amazon share an owner.

I typically like the WSJ's reporting, but this honestly feels like a topic they should be recusing themselves from.


Do you mean WaPo? Bezos owns the Washington Post but WSJ is owned by Murdoch via NewsCorp[1] unless I’m mistaken.

[1] - https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/112615/wall-street-...


> I'm skeptical of the substance of this article because WSJ and Amazon share an owner. > I typically like the WSJ's reporting, but this honestly feels like a topic they should be recusing themselves from.

No they don't. You're thinking of the Washington Post.


WSJ is owned by Dow Jones & Company / News Corporation

I think you're confusing WSJ and The Washington Post. The later is owned by Jeff Bezos.


Did Bezos buy WSJ in addition to the Post? I thought Fox owned WSJ.


You’re thinking of the Washington Post. WSJ is a Murdoch property.


Poor, Poor Amazon. Amazon is run by the richest person in the entire world who will come to the oligarch's aid?

Amazon paid NO income taxes last year. I am against Amazon for that reason alone.


Don't be angry at Amazon (and the others) - campaign to change the law.

Fixating on massive corporations not paying tax is actually making the problem worse, because it takes attention away from the only thing that can fix the problem which is changing the law. Anything less is just asking companies to hurt themselves for no reason.

Just like how most people would pay lower taxes if it was legal, the same goes for companies. That's not saying I don't completely agree they need to pay their fair share - I do!


Absolutely the campaign should be to change the law, but if you're looking to also assign blame, massive corporations had a hand in writing the tax code.


Those poor politicians, we can't expect them to read laws before voting on them. They must of gotten confused because they have so many checks to cash and speaking gigs to preform.


The way the system is set up, most politicians don't think they have an alternative. Unless you're a standout star in a high-profile race, your election prospects are inexorably linked with your ability to fundraise (as well as your party affiliation, if you survive the primary). If you're not cashing checks, your opponents will.

It's the same argument you hear from businesses and affluent individuals: "If I don't [pay my employees as little as possible | take advantage of every tax loophole I can find | spend thousands of dollars lobbying congress | pollute the environment], my competitors will."

Of course, those excuses ring hollow when those same individuals aren't in favor of changing a broken system. Any politician that complains about fundraising but is not in favor of campaign finance reform is a hypocrite, IMHO.


>The way the system is set up, most politicians don't think they have an alternative

Who's in charge of setting up the system again?


You're being sarcastic, but most laws are massive and legislators don't read them before voting on them. They depend on aides and lobbyists to figure out what bills mean.


> Don't be angry at Amazon (and the others) - campaign to change the law.

You can do both. In many if not all cases the tax loopholes are a result of an amazon-like company lobbying politicians, they’re not innocently taking advantage of a neutral situation.


Doing both is a waste of time and mental energy, neither of which are infinite. Amazon will not change if the law doesn't.

Pick your battles.


Boycotts, strikes, and pressure campaigns against companies have a long track record of working. It's hardly wasted effort.


Brand protection is important for a customer facing company. The right campaign will enact change quicker.


It’s not as important as people think. Most people know that Facebook is a privacy invasive train wreck but people use it anyway.


You can't change the law unless you convince other people that there's a problem, and you won't convince people that there's tax loopholes, without demonizing the organizations that exploit them.

Telling people to stop complaining about abuse of the law is one of the best ways of preventing the law from ever being fixed.


We have tried to do this and we nearly succeeded in Seattle before the mayor antidemocratically shut it down. When you’re up against so much money and power , you’re up against the people who write the laws too.


Being angry with those who exploit weak law is part of the process of campaigning to change the law.


> Amazon paid NO income taxes last year.

This is not true. They paid no federal income tax which is not the same as no income tax. In 2018 they paid $1.2 billion globally[0] and I don't understand how much they paid domestically because deferred income tax is confusing to me.[1]

Taxes are extremely complicated and a lot of people (politicians especially) will pick one or two numbers that support their narrative. They know most people won't spend the time researching the context surrounding their "statistics" and they also bank on how people will misunderstand what they're reporting.

You just said "NO income taxes last year." The people popularizing the "no federal income taxes" meme know a lot of people will think it means "no income taxes."

[0] - https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/amzn/financials [1] - https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/deferredincometax.asp


I don't think your comment is related to this article.


If you're not getting paid for this comment, you could be.


I disagree.

Amazon didn’t break any laws when they paid whatever amount they did or didn’t pay. Also I’m not sure which oligarch you’re talking about.

And they’re not the only ones who did this. It’s just convenient to flash Amazons name next to this headline since there are enough companies out there who refuse to compete or do anything innovative but want you to blindly give them your money.




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