Yes and no. I appreciate where he's coming from, but "mega-corporation exploits and mistreats blue-collar workers" isn't new. That happens every day, and has since corporations have existed.
"White-collar worker quits over own company's treatment of blue-collar workers" is news. It points to a shift: even the people profiting off this are starting to think it's getting ridiculous.
I'm having trouble thinking of any other cases where this has occurred. The only thing that comes to mind is Gates and Buffet saying they should pay higher taxes, but that has much less personal impact on them.
This incident shows AWS engineers have significantly more leverage than their coworkers in warehouses. If you are an engineer who works for Amazon and you want to see real changes here's a suggestion:
In an ideal world, you will not have to look for another job, to encourage change, but considering the circumstances, the most impactful way to encourage change is to follow Tim Bray's footsteps.
If a significant amount of critical engineers leave AWS and they make it clear that it was because of the poor treatment of Fulfillment Center teammates, Amazon will change. AWS who want to have a major impact, and are willing & able, should find a new employer. Secure new positions, resign then write to all the journalists covering Tim Bray's story, about why this group decided to leave. Warehouse workers as a group have significantly less leverage because they are easier to replace, especially now when there are so many people who are unemployed that can quickly take their position. AWS engineers as a group have far more leverage because they are harder to replace, even now, during the pandemic.
As for me, this will be the last year I shop for products on Amazon for the foreseeable future, and I may never come back, and I will be encouraging others to do the same. I'm one of those people who love shopping on Amazon, well not anymore.
if a given recruiter hears that message just 3 or 4 times, they're likely to start believing it's prevalent across the labor pool.
(These views are my own and I don't in any way represent Amazon, my employer. I wasn't paid to say them either.)
It's easier said than done. There's a pandemic on and most of us are just glad to not be in the ~20% unemployment rate. We have mortgages to pay, children to feed, etc. Many of us just became single-income households. Taking on risks now is hard.
I truly respect Tim's actions. I hope it sparks change.
It seems unlikely not just because a lot of engineers like to close their eyes towards others suffering but they really believe "People should be paid according to the value they create". And it is just code that they should be paid more and lower rung can be paid next to nothing else robots will take their jobs.
because of my own same position.
Though, obviously this needs to happen at larger scale to have any impact.
I disagree. He had leverage because of his title, and probably because he has a Wikipedia page about him (i.e. he's a noteworthy engineer). If a random anonymous AWS engineer quit tomorrow, it won't make the news. If a significant number of them do, then Amazon might start panicking...
In that topic, is Facebook still toxic to SWEs?
Obviously, Tim Bray has a lot more leverage than most engineers at AWS or Amazon. It takes someone at the senior principal or distinguished engineer level to really shock the upper echelons of management. But there are droves of SDE IIs and SDE IIIs who've been with the company for a few years and whose leaving the company in protest would have a noticeable, immediate impact on their team and larger org.
Better phrased would be is Facebook still toxic? If a company is toxic to one group, it is toxic for all even if they don't suffer directly, they are definitely enabling.
Ex-facebook VP is on an anti-social media crusade.
Most famously, Roger McNamee.
Because the people who irresponsibly helped destroy the concept of personal privacy should get all the credit for trying to fix it.
Your opinion reminds me of purity-testing Bernie fanatics I stumble upon on Twitter.
He is a multi millionaire close to retirement. It wasn’t actually a great sacrifice.
It’s like all of the former Google and Facebook employees “bravely” speaking out after they have already cashed in their lucrative RSUs
It's funny how some can be more critical of the employees that dare to speak out, than the actual companies that have enacted policies that put thousands of workers at risk across the globe.
Amazon is always issuing employees RSUs that vest at dome future date. No matter when he leaves he would have “lost” money.
I could see your point if Tim didn’t point out his own privilege but he does _in both articles._
The direct personal cost was mentioned in the original public letter:
>> What with big-tech salaries and share vestings, this will probably cost me over a million (pre-tax) dollars, not to mention the best job I’ve ever had, working with awfully good people.
Even though it's unlikely to put the author in the poorhouse, that's not a trivial cost.
It's nice to see someone with Tim's position handing the megaphone off.
It's unfortunate, but that's the way it works. One comes across as a person who saw something wrong and wanted to be part of the change, even at their own expense. The other comes across as a disgruntled fired employee (whether that's true or not is irrelevant when you have seconds to convince someone just to pay attention to your cause).
I don't think he's wrong to want to stay out of it and let others directly involved lead it, but I feel he hurt things a bit by shining the spotlight on himself (which was unintentional, to be sure) and then turning his back on it.
If this is the way it works, why are we in this situation? This kind of thing happens every few years. Some renegade upper-class guy quits and throws in his or her lot with the common folk. It's so stereotypical it's literally the plot for about a third of Hollywood movies.
What he's doing is right. He's exactly saying that this isn't performance art, it's not a media story about him. Talk to the people who are affected, working people, and give them a voice.
That's all hypothetical, though. I'm curious if there is any studies/hard data on the effectiveness of the two situations in reaching the public. Maybe I'll try to do some digging this weekend.
The only coverage I saw that mentioned their words cited a thank you tweet. The story remained on Tim Bray until the above story happened, which likely received less coverage because it was political.
I don’t want to say it’s one of those “people only listen to white guys” stories but it does kind of feel that way. I found only one photo published of any of the folks who were previously laid off for said “chickensh*t” reasons and it wasn’t a nice photo.
I can understand though. Tim Bray has been blogging for ages and controlled the story’s timing. He didn’t promote the tweets or work with others to make sure they were available for interviews the way, presumably, Warren’s team did. And everyone is laid off, they can’t go have professional headshots taken, covid makes any TV interview harder, nobody had B-roll or PR people to help coordinate on the side of the whistleblowers. So... it happens then that the personal stories fall through the cracks. It’s possible folks have NDAs too, of course.
It’s possible that he and his team are doing everything in their power but that Amazon completely fails it’s warehouse workers nonetheless.
It was so disappointing not because it was wrong - all of the points Brad made about Amazon going to great lengths to protect workers and rejigger processes rang true. But it missed the point and completely did not address at all Amazon's culture WRT responding to whistleblowers. Furthermore, all the other "yeah, that's right!" comments from other very highly paid white collar Amazonians (with barely a peep from Amazon's factory workers, though not unexpected given the medium) came across as extremely tone deaf and the equivalent of the aristocracy congratulating each other over how well they treat the servants.
I agree about one thing though. LinkedIn was the only place when I was straight up 'attacked' by random people, who did not agree with my opinion. All of a sudden, all my posts started talking about coke I do and whatnot. It was a weird experience for me, but I immediately stopped all actual conversations on LinkedIn based on that.
The risks are not worth it.
"Apply online. No interview required. Start tomorrow."
That's the very definition of interchangeable pieces you're not overly concerned with. "Can you pass a literacy test? Background check? Have a pulse? Start tomorrow" shows absolutely no deep abiding connection.
I'm not sure Tim is grandstanding, as much as suffering from the (IMO weak and easy to accuse) burden of campaigning for the little guy from a position of power. We shouldn't always require that change come from the bottom up or the very top; he can possibly ignite it far faster and meaingful than either.
We can debate the merits of individual choices, but collective actions have impact. I wouldn't be surprised to see an anti prime day or cancel prime day organized to coincide with Amazon's retail holiday "Prime Day".
They don't seem to be engaging in any of the more egregious behaviors that earn Amazon flak simply by virtue of not having their own product lines and warehouse/distribution system.
Super low quality customer support, eBay is on sellers side as they bring profits, sellers purposely adversative products to sell more then refuse refunds, when I made complaint to eBay eBay got on their side. I have humidifier that not suitable for my needs and has super-low quality filter that's not HEPA as it was described. When I want to buy something cheap of questionable/unidentified quality, I go to aliexpress.
I have motorcycle cover that was supposed be XL and fit my motorbike, but got S that covers only top half... seller sent be back 20% of cost, but I still have cover I can't use.
GPS tracker that for some reason doesn't work with Orange (and others) SIM cards in the UK, but works in Poland (with Orange SIM).
Arduino WiFi that came in original(?) packaging, but was rusted. I can keep going like this...
It's been like this since I ever use eBay (~2010), I always lie to myself "this time it won't happen" and it keeps happening.
Amazing how perspective is. I'm 99% a buyer (hundreds of items bought, and three items sold, and never again).
I sold a Mavic 2 Pro drone with 5 batteries. The whole process was a mess. Buyer complained that it didn't come with the CrystalSky tablet in one picture (that was added after they started bidding, to show Flight Logs, was explicitly disclaimed as being a part of the package, and was not in the receipts I sent the buyer). After that, three weeks later:
"The batteries don't work."
"Any of them?"
"Nope. I want a refund."
Note that two of the batteries were less than 4 months old, still in warranty.
He then stated he wanted a refund of $800. Bear in mind, 5 brand new batteries would be $670.
No evidence was shown. I stated I'd like to get the original batteries back, as I'd be able to get them replaced under warranty or possibly repaired and recoup some of my money (I was skeptical there was any issue, but still). He agreed. I asked him to send me an eBay message acknowledging that the partial refund was contingent on him sending me the batteries back and that he accepts me disputing the refund if not.
He does so.
Refund is sent (for about $700, to include his return shipping costs).
Less than an hour later I get a message, "USPS says they won't ship damaged batteries so I will not be returning them".
I then suggest we meet in person to exchange them (I live a few hours away, not convenient, but still, $700...). He umms and ahhs, "How will I be able to prove that I gave them to you in person?". I suggest we do it in a police station (his local PD suggests people do this for CL, etc.). More umm and ahh. "I need to contact eBay support to see if they recommend this." (eBay has a FAQ page describing how they recommend doing in person sales, and refunds, and documenting it). "I never heard back from them so I'm not sure what to do". I point this out, and he goes silent.
I open a dispute. No evidence provided for damage/faulty goods. Multiple instances of the buyer trying to show something/anything was problematic with the listing. Not abiding by agreement, refusing/avoiding any method of returning damage.
"We have closed your dispute. Based on our review, the buyer is entitled to a partial refund for damage. He is not required to return the batteries".
So he ended up with a Mavic 2 Pro, with less than 20 hours flight time, 5 batteries, for in the order of $950, all told.
eBay is on the side of least resistance, damage or liability, financial responsibility to eBay, no-one else.
Then they package the returned drive correctly and send to you, where it dies 5 months after warranty ended.
B&H Photo Video has a surprisingly large selection of computer components and the filtering options seem comparable to NewEgg, so I may start buying more parts from there.
What is it about corporations that strips your personhood?
EDIT: On further inspection, the other post (by Anton Okmyanskiy) is actually worse. The undercurrent of "Yes, we're being evil. No, we're not going to change in meaningful ways. I don't even feel bad about the ways we're currently being evil. Why? Ideology!" within it is somehow slimier: with Porter, he's at least lacking self-awareness (or public-facing self-awareness), but in Okmyanskiy's case, it's definitely there, he just doesn't care.
* Amazon.jobs || https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles
Ownership, Insist on the Highest Standards, Earn Trust, Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit...
Their response to whistle blowers should have been, "Hey thanks for bringing this up internally, that's what the internal communication tools were for. We're trying, but clearly these are unprecedented times and we need to do better. Thanks for bringing your voice and your data to the table so we can improve."
I don't love the idea of airing dirty laundry without going through internal channels first... but assuming these people did that first, they should never have been shown the door. Amazon is a startup at scale, and if you take away the ability for people to openly raise concerns, you ruin the culture.
It shouldn't just be about the stock price, y'know? Amazon was a great place to work, and grew, because people challenged authority and found better ways of doing things. It's a mistake, and hugely damaging to the brand, to lose sight of that.
I agree with most of the principles and find them meaningful rather than "deliver excellence" platitudes.
But some some principles clearly apply only to the workers and not management. Earn Trust, Have backbone and Frugality especially.
> Amazon is a startup at scale
That's a PR slogan.
> It shouldn't just be about the stock price, y'know?
Amazon is a for-profit company. Workers engage in frugality, stockholders enjoy the billions.
> because people challenged authority
Amazon is quite data-driven when it comes to engineering but very vertical and disciplinarian.
Try challenging Bezos, or talking about unions, for example. Remember point 6 of the SOA memo?
5) All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.
6) Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired.
7) Thank you; have a nice day!
The company is well know for firing easily, both directly and through stack ranking.
I mean... we've all seen some of the shit Amazon put out back in the day, the one-offs, the impossible to maintain or integrate with shit some team in a silo built... easy to have silos when every team has to be small. I don't know, I really feel like the SOA memo wasn't so much a threat as just a joke to bring home the point that not using SOA is dumb and impossible to work with.
And I honestly felt like Amazon was a startup at scale. Man, I really loved my time there. Met some of the best people I ever worked with.
I think that line stopped applying 20 years ago, dude.
> a 2-3 year stint at the same company start to look weird on your resume.
I wish I could be as disinhibited as you are, about changing jobs. I've had 3 jobs in 15 years...
The person you responded to is getting downvoted for being blindingly naive about corporations.
What does this mean?
That doesn't _mean_ anything.
Myths, despite being wholly or partially fictional, can contain some elements of truth. They can also provide insight into the values, aspirations, tropes and path to power within a group.
In Amazon's case, I think it is much more startup-like than peer companies. It's been willing to pivot, to give up margin, to place serious bets on new businesses, to focus intensely on growth, etc.
Also, obviously, Amazon is a 500k-employee megacorp, with all of the institutional dynamics that go with that.
It's clearly not day one, but just as clearly people within Amazon take the idea seriously. So yeah, false and true.
I should mention that I worked there for over 5 years, but that was a while ago. The whole "day one" thing has been around the whole time.
The entire time I've been in this industry, tech companies talked a big game about being a force for good but made all their decisions based on cold, hard statistics.
It's weird that this is being downvoted, because it raises a real point:
There wouldn't be whistleblowers if you could get anything done from inside.
Don't blame Amazon, they're just giving us exactly what we want, and I say that as someone who buys from Amazon, feels bad about it, but keeps buying because I just can't give up the low cost and convenience.
Instead of asking Amazon to do better, we should be asking ourselves why we are so unwilling to pay anything but the absolute lowest cost for something in spite of all the negative consequences for others.
Don't blame consumers when the problem is companies and law itself.
It’s always the Directors/VPs that I see doing this. Is it just their in-group doesn’t have time for personal blogs any more?
Most "personal" blogs from VP-and-over personalities have always read like carefully-scripted PR.
As for recent events, the complaints seem to be that Amazon didn't implement enough COVID-19 countermeasures early enough, and that their implementation of COVID-19 policies hasn't had perfect coverage. From https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/10/21216172/amazon-coronavir...
> Smalls, 31 years old and father of three, had worked at JFK8 since it opened in 2018 and Amazon warehouses in New Jersey and Connecticut before that. It’s a good job, he says, with good benefits, and he hadn’t had any complaints. But in early March, he became concerned about what would happen when the virus reached the warehouse with its 5,000 employees.
You can read more anecdotes in the article. I fully believe the managers involved in those incidents should be fired, but I'm still not convinced that those negative anecdotes are the norm across all of Amazon.
Also, it's worth noting that Amazon is the industry leader here. If Amazon cuts cost at workers' expense, then other companies have to cut costs as well, and it's probably going to be in the same way. To some extent, other companies mistreat warehouse workers because Amazon mistreats warehouse workers.
Clearly, it's fun to pick on Amazon and not as fun to pick on <insert company name you've never heard of here>.
Amazon has lots of it and meat packing plants don't.
Second, just because Amazon does one thing slightly better than its competitors, does not excuse them mistreating their workers in other ways.
Third, you didn't address the point of my previous post, which is that other companies doing the wrong thing doesn't excuse Amazon doing the wrong thing.
Fourth, before you continue your ad hominem attack where you accuse me of singling out Amazon unfairly because "it's fun", you should know that I've personally been involved in a (unsuccessful) political campaign to prevent a Walmart from being built in my early 20s, for similar reasons. This isn't me picking on poor little Amazon, it's a consistent stance on protecting worker rights against any employer, which I've held for decades.
Please leave this type of intellectual dishonesty at the door. Hacker News is smarter than this. Jeff Bezos also loses $9,000,000/hour some months. He lost billions in minutes after the earnings report a few days ago. That's what happens when you have equity in something. He bore the risk when the company made nothing and was nothing and he continues to bear that risk and reap the rewards.
Amazon is attacked because it's an easy target. Warehouses have abused workers long before Amazon and continue to do so while flying under the radar despite being significantly worse than Amazon. If someone is unemployed and another person is employed but wants to get a raise with a new job, you help the unemployed person first. Your argument amounts to "well, just because this person is employed doesn't mean they don't deserve a raise". Sure, you're technically correct, but the net result of your efforts is less than if you find a job for the second person first. It's why a lot of people not in the line of fire don't take these initiatives seriously. It's also why workers from other warehouses flock to Amazon by the 100,000s despite these alleged poor conditions.
Also, in what sense does Bezos still bear any financial risk for anything at all? All of Amazon could crash and burn tomorrow and he'd still have enough tucked away under his mattress to last the rest of his life. A few billion at the margins either way is completely meaningless to him.
Amazon is an "easy target" because it is incredibly powerful and pervasive. It's reasonable to hold powerful parties to a higher standard because they have more ability to enact both positive and negative change. And most labor activists want worker protections to be not just company policies, but laws, which would also affect all those under-the-radar companies.
I am not quibbling over the exact figure. I am quibbling over the fact that he only "makes" that much by having most of his eggs in the Amazon basket, the basket that he founded and therefore owns the majority. If Amazon had failed and gone bankrupt, say, 10 years in, should all of his employees at that point have paid back their wages from over the years? It's only fair since Bezos lost everything, right? Tell me, if Bezos liquidated all but the minimum amount of equity required to remain CEO, would you still hate him just as much? Who would you hold at fault then? Or is he just your punching bag regardless?
>It's reasonable to hold powerful parties to a higher standard because they have more ability to enact both positive and negative change.
It's more reasonable to hold everyone to the same standard. If not, then where is the line when you go from "anything goes" to "we expect better from you"? It's only reasonable to go after the biggest one because it has the most cash to bleed. That's not noble, that's just greedy. If you actually cared about the cause of helping people that are treated the worst, you would go after much smaller and dirtier entities. And if you want them to be laws, then why the protests against Amazon specifically? Go to your congresspeople that are supposed to represent your views and make them change the laws. Amazon has zero obligation to you but your representatives do and yet Amazon is at fault here? Maybe you should start wondering why politicians you keep voting for keep getting bought out by big money.
For the record, I don't even like Bezos or Amazon.
Bezos did take some meaningful risks, but at some point, any sense of risk is meaningless. $10 million is enough for anyone to live out a more financially comfortable life than a $15/hour worker without ever working again. Jeff Bezos has more than 10,000 times that. What exactly has Bezos risked since he made is first $10 million? A slightly less comfortable life, with a smaller number next to his name?
Maybe you think $10 million is too low a number, but whatever number you think is more money than anyone could reasonably make use of, I don't think you can honestly disagree that Bezos passed that long ago, and has not taken a meaningful risk since.
For me, this isn't about hating Bezos or Amazon. It's about loving normal people who have to struggle just to get by when there is so much excess available. I don't always succeed, but I try very hard to base my ideology in love.
We're focusing on Amazon right now because we're in an HN thread about Amazon. I'm not going into the Intel and Uber threads and telling folks they're wasting their energy because Bezos is so much more punchable.
Haggling over the exact number Jeff Bezos makes hourly misses the point very intentionally, and that's certainly not honest. Can we agree that whatever Jeff Bezos' hourly income is, it's many, many orders of magnitude more than $15/hour?
> Amazon is attacked because it's an easy target.
Tell me another company that's mistreating their workers, in any industry, and I'll happily condemn their actions too.
We need to talk about specific companies and specific abuses, because if we don't, then there's no action that can be taken which addresses the specific problem.
And incidentally, it's not like people are pushing for laws that are going to be written to only apply to Amazon. Workers don't have realistic ability to use the bathroom at Amazon: so we should have a law that says workers (at any company) have a right to use the bathroom.
> Warehouses have abused workers long before Amazon and continue to do so while flying under the radar despite being significantly worse than Amazon. If someone is unemployed and another person is employed but wants to get a raise with a new job, you help the unemployed person first. Your argument amounts to "well, just because this person is employed doesn't mean they don't deserve a raise". Sure, you're technically correct, but the net result of your efforts is less than if you find a job for the second person first.
Ah yes, the "we're only allowed to talk about one thing so it shouldn't be this" argument. Why can't we talk about Amazon and the other companies?
What's the net result of your effort? You want to talk about the entire warehouse industry? Why stop there? Aren't there even more employers in other industries? Are you just picking on the warehouse industry? Is talking about the entire warehouse industry really going to result in a larger net improvement than talking about Amazon?
> It's why a lot of people not in the line of fire don't take these initiatives seriously. It's also why workers from other warehouses flock to Amazon by the 100,000s despite these alleged poor conditions.
Please leave this type of intellectual dishonesty at the door. Hacker News is smarter than this. Amazon also loses some workers some months.
Or that's what I would say if I were trying to sidestep your point. Instead, I'll say that there are other explanations for why people go to work at Amazon--namely, a lack of other employment options. If my options were become homeless or work at Amazon, I'd work at Amazon too. That doesn't suddenly mean Amazon gets a free pass for everything they do.
Irrelevant, as they don't perform the same duty nor did they share the same risk. They're free to start their own companies if they think it's such a surefire way to guaranteed wealth.
>Tell me another company that's mistreating their workers, in any industry, and I'll happily condemn their actions too.
You're assuming that I think Amazon is mistreating their workers as a rule. I believe it happens. I also believe anything can happen when you have almost 800,000 employees.
>And incidentally, it's not like people are pushing for laws that are going to be written to only apply to Amazon. Workers don't have realistic ability to use the bathroom at Amazon: so we should have a law that says workers (at any company) have a right to use the bathroom.
I'm all for this. I don't agree that the bathroom situation is anywhere close to what has been reported but it doesn't matter because we are in agreement on the laws governing all companies part.
>Ah yes, the "we're only allowed to talk about one thing so it shouldn't be this" argument. Why can't we talk about Amazon and the other companies?
I didn't say this, in fact, I said exactly what you said. I'm seeing talk that is 99% Amazon and 1%... everyone else. And that's being generous. I can't remember the last time I saw a headline that talked about these issues elsewhere even though the comments always bring up plenty of alternative examples. How come we're okay with people that stock grocery stores to make $8? Is their job any less hard than boxing things up in an Amazon warehouse? There are way more grocery stores across the country than Amazon warehouses.
>What's the net result of your effort?
Stop right there. I don't pat myself on the back for how noble I am. If it were up to me, I would be directing all this effort to getting Congress to actually pass laws that force these companies to act right rather than begging Bezos to hand out a couple more biscuits. You know, that one tiny thing that representatives are supposed to do for their constituents: pass laws.
>Amazon also loses some workers some months.
Swing and a miss.
>Instead, I'll say that there are other explanations for why people go to work at Amazon--namely, a lack of other employment options. If my options were become homeless or work at Amazon, I'd work at Amazon too.
There you go. The alternative is living on the street. Thank you, Amazon, for lifting people out of homelessness. For that noble deed, we're going to target you for not doing enough while everyone else gets a pass for not doing anything.
> Irrelevant, as they don't perform the same duty nor did they share the same risk. They're free to start their own companies if they think it's such a surefire way to guaranteed wealth.
Let's address this one part at a time:
1. No duty is worth what Bezos makes.
2. A surefire way to guaranteed wealth is to start with so much wealth that even if you lose all your investments, you're still wealthy and will continue to be for the rest of your life even if you never make money again. That's where Bezos was decades ago.
3. And while we're at it, yeah, let's empower poor people to start their own businesses. I.e. give people a standard of living where they might have money to risk to begin with. I.e. not $15/hour.
> I didn't say this, in fact, I said exactly what you said. I'm seeing talk that is 99% Amazon and 1%... everyone else. And that's being generous. I can't remember the last time I saw a headline that talked about these issues elsewhere even though the comments always bring up plenty of alternative examples. How come we're okay with people that stock grocery stores to make $8? Is their job any less hard than boxing things up in an Amazon warehouse? There are way more grocery stores across the country than Amazon warehouses.
So basically, you agree with me except that you had to jump in to defend a poor defenseless multibillion dollar international company?
> If it were up to me, I would be directing all this effort to getting Congress to actually pass laws that force these companies to act right rather than begging Bezos to hand out a couple more biscuits. You know, that one tiny thing that representatives are supposed to do for their constituents: pass laws.
Great: why don't you do that instead of derailing any effort by jumping in to defend Amazon?
> There you go. The alternative is living on the street. Thank you, Amazon, for lifting people out of homelessness. For that noble deed, we're going to target you for not doing enough while everyone else gets a pass for not doing anything.
Dude, you're so set on diverting focus away from Amazon's wrong doing if Amazon literally stabbed someone you'd comment how it alleviated their high blood pressure.
Slave wage jobs are arguably better than homelessness, but you know what's even better than that? A society with an income distribution that makes a vague pretense of being proportionally meritocratic, and where are alternatives are better than homelessness and working for what pittances the rich deign to give us.
Says who? You? You know how I know it's worth that much? Because he already has that much. The free market has decided.
>That's where Bezos was decades ago.
>So basically, you agree with me except that you had to jump in to defend a poor defenseless multibillion dollar international company?
My principles don't discriminate by dollar figure or other arbitrary measures. That's what makes them principles.
>Great: why don't you do that instead of derailing any effort by jumping in to defend Amazon?
I can do both? Isn't that what you were preaching before?
>Dude, you're so set on diverting focus away from Amazon's wrong doing if Amazon literally stabbed someone you'd comment how it alleviated their high blood pressure.
Great strawman. We're done here.
Which only goes to show that the free market is absolutely terrible at deciding things.
> > That's where Bezos was decades ago.
Well, actually, Bezos did surpass the $10 million in wealth mark at least two decades ago, so I'm really not sure what you're on about.
> My principles don't discriminate by dollar figure or other arbitrary measures. That's what makes them principles.
What principle are you applying here exactly?
> I can do both? Isn't that what you were preaching before?
But you aren't doing both. You're just defending Amazon. You claim to care about worker's rights and not like Amazon and Bezos, but all I see you doing here is saying Amazon and Bezos deserve what they get and the workers deserve what they get, including subsistence-level wages and unsafe working conditions. If this is how you treat people you like and people you're defending, I hope to always stay on your bad side!
Whether or not it makes sense to single out the leader in a given industry, I don't know, but that always seems to be what happens.
The disgusting thing is when Brad posted a PR piece that avoided the issue Tim raised. Brad could be the best person in the world but that action was not good or fair.
It's because it gives them challenging problems, and money to continue their current lifestyle as is.
If people here are working in companies whose behaviour they find totally ethical in all regards, please give your employer a shout. It will help widen the perspective of others.
Despite its flaws (eg drug prices) working in biotech is pretty awesome. I get to support work in treating cancer, figuring out covid, stopping rare diseases.
Give it a look y’all. Working in ad “tech” is trading your soul for $$. Get out.
Chasing resume prestige belongs on that list.
About Amazon the issue did not appear to be the money but the working conditions and now with the virus this people are exposing themselves and family to risk Amazon should focus on reducing that risk and not on exploiting the situation to make the biggest profits ever.
But what makes you think they are trying to exploit the situation to make the biggest profit ever? On the contrary, their quarterly guidance say they expect all of Q2 profits to be spent on COVID19 related expenditure.
That's like saying, "For a slave owner, X was quite generous with his subjects" - the bar is quite low to begin with...
Everyone has a different tolerance on how much bullshit they'll tolerate near them.
As for "overpaid": I'd wish more employees, not just across the IT industry but everywhere, were paid according to the value they create for the business with their work. At the moment, many see labor costs as a "race to the bottom" with most value going to shareholders - unsustainable for society in the long term, as all the stuff that companies are selling needs buyers, and it will get really nasty if the only ones able to afford more than absolutely necessary items such as food and clothing without going deep in debt are a couple of rich elites.
You can differentiate. It is not hard. Some extremes: Patagonia vs. Outbrain. Gates Foundaton vs. Juul. Same?
By that same rationale all humans are evil, so there is no point in differentiating.
2 is the one that is important to recognize and where we in tech should have conversations. 1 is a semantic distraction and an excuse to avoid responsibility.
This is some pretty agile dancing. :)
The two things are perfectly compatible.
It may seem weird to talk about the mental health of beef cattle, but we're not talking about beef cattle, we're talking about workers, whose mental health absolutely does matter.
For example one Team may review and be responsible for Production Metrics and standards, and a completely separate team is responsible for reviewing Safety standards, and often the 2 groups create directives that impact the other with out giving a shit how the people that have to implement and follow them actually go about doing that
Breaking it up, sure. I believe Amazon has profited in the way many tech companies have - in that law makers don't understand the inter-connectedness of technology and how an advantage in one area will lead to an advantage in other areas.
But socialization of Amazon? Why? We already have a publicly funded package delivery service. . . .
By the way - in some world states, mail delivery is being privatized, or becomes under-funded, starved - and then privatized. Overall, this process results in postal service quality deteriorating significantly, letters getting lost etc.
The government would love to have more power over tech to both gather information on people and to control the narrative.
Did anyone not see how Tim Cook was kissing up to the President and how much he enjoyed it? Do you really prefer to have a potential abusive government With the power of the state with more power.
The problem is, if you don't have a powerful government, you get something worse: powerful corporations. At least government (in a democracy) has to maintain some pretense of serving individuals. The only times corporations have to pretend to serve individuals is if their customers are individuals, and even then they can just lie about it: the whole field of advertising is devoted to that. Governments can (and do) lie about serving people too, but they have it a bit harder: consider the difference in connotation between the words "advertising" and "propaganda". And in an ideal government, there's a great deal of transparency, which makes it harder to lie. In contrast, corporations have largely unquestioned active protections over their internal secrets, and corporate transparency is practically oxymoronic.
The role of government is to protect the weak from the strong, and in order to do that, unfortunately, government has to be strong. In this context, that means regulating corporations so that they can't trample individuals. Ideally, government also has checks and balances so that government also protects individuals from government. Obviously that's hard to do, and no government I know of has implemented it perfectly, but it's the best idea we have--if you have a better idea feel free to share it. And so we're clear: having an anemic government isn't a better idea: that just gives you rule by corporations.
The role of government is to maintain the social order, the basic social relations w.r.t. ownership of property, particularly capital like land, production facilities, access to natural resources etc.
This means mostly protecting the interests of the strong few against the weak many. In some cases of misconduct by powerful individuals or companies - outside the bounds of the acceptable and resulting in potential jeopardy of the social order - it may protect the weak against the powerful as well.
In the US “it’s not the strong few”. The majority can and does use the government to impose its will.
I hope the simile is clear enough...
Specifically - persecution of minorities is not a "natural" social phenomenon, it is very much an acquired tendency on the personal level and encouraged and stoked by social, economical, and political institutions.
Well, obviously I'd prefer the government used their powers for good, i.e. actually protect workers.
And that's not to mention the basic places where government protects the weak from the strong, like arresting murderers and rapists.
So, I'd say, while it certainly could be working better, it's working out a lot better than you're giving it credit for.
Have you read about the history of the US? Segregation? Laws against interracial marriage? “Sodomy” laws to persecute homosexuality? The Mulliford Act?
Historically the US has only “protected” the majority. The same is true today if you look where the “War on Drugs” is taking place compared to “treating drug addiction like a disease” is taking place.
“Powerful corporations” can’t take away your liberty or your property.
> Have you read about the history of the US? Segregation? Laws against interracial marriage? “Sodomy” laws to persecute homosexuality? The Mulliford Act?
Government often does terrible things outside their role, a fact which I clearly acknowledged as a problem in my post.
> Historically the US has only “protected” the majority. The same is true today if you look where the “War on Drugs” is taking place compared to “treating drug addiction like a disease” is taking place.
The US is also one of the worst examples of a government.
I think if you look at where addiction is being treated as a disease in other parts of the world, you'll find that those places have pretty powerful governments.
> “Powerful corporations” can’t take away your liberty or your property.
They can't take your liberty away because government says kidnapping is illegal. Corporations absolutely take away people's liberty when it's legal to do so: corporate prisons, mercenary corps, etc. In the past, when slavery was legal, it was corporations who obtained, sold, and often kept slaves.
I would argue that buying up all the property, paying you a pittance, and forcing you to pay rent, so that you can't obtain property in the first place, isn't meaningfully different from taking away your property.
Since Amazon is a US based corporation it should be controlled by the “worst example of government”?
Part of that improvement is fulfilling their role, and refocusing on protecting individuals from corporations, which includes protecting workers at Amazon.
"The government would love to have more power over tech" - the government fawns over big tech anyway. And the love is returned - with large tech companies helping the US government's military endeavors, and performing mass surveillance and feeding the subjects slanted pro-regime news.
And despite the lovers' quarrel, he has been considering a $10 Billion deal to do some shady evil computing work:
and Amazon might still get some of it:
Completely anecdotally, I can feel a pretty big shift taking place. At least that's what it feels like online, which may not be at all representative of the overall population. A new generation has come of age, and they are far more comfortable with concepts like socialism and even totalitarianism than the previous generations are. It was evident before COVID19, but since the pandemic began it has become even more pronounced.
It's fascinating, really. Maybe scary. It's weird to get a little older (I'm Gen X) and feel like the culture of your society is shifting out from underneath you. No wonder old people seem to trend conservative.
Edit: And the hive mind does not care to recognize it. Welcome to the new world, introspection not welcome.
Socialism and authoritarianism are very linked. They're not the same, and you can have a socialist society that isn't authoritarian, but many socialist countries are centrally authoritarian and that's held true historically.
Socialism and authoritarianism are linked -- in the default North American political education. That is not the case worldwide, or for all of us.
Before there was ever a socialist political party or government there were regimes all through the 19th century with capitalist market economies and highly highly authoritarian governments. But that link is not made by many.
Corporate structures are highly controlling in ways that governments could never get away with -- controlling their employees time and expression as well as their access to basic services such as health care. But, again, in the default (small-l) liberal concensus in North America, this is not identified as authoritarian because the classical liberal concept of individual agents participating in a free market is assumed and enshrined.
If one makes broad and reductionist statements about people who don't agree with you philosophically, and do so with the tone the commenter had, I don't see why one should be expecting not to be downvoted.
Tell that to all of the people locked up because of the “War on Drugs”, civil forfeiture without a trial, and government using eminent domain to take property and give it to a corporation.
A corporation doesn’t have the force of law - and military weapons (SWAT) - to enforce compliance.
This is one of the fundamental philosophical points of confusion in discussion between radical socialists and libertarians or classical liberals: we, too, have a problem with the state and its control. _But_ we consider the state to be the _creation_ of the market economy. It exists to enforce property rights, to negotiate between different corporate entities, to use its diplomatic or military power to expand markets and market influence abroad, and in extremis it uses its coercive powers to subdue labour disruptions and political dissent that hurts the market.
This is why we bristle when we see comments like the one here that associate directly the concept of socialism with one of government/state control. Because for us the government _is_ capitalism. Without its intervention the market could never exist. And it's why we see right wing libertarianism as either naive or authoritarian itself: because it ignores the coercive nature of the origin of the market: in the historical destruction of the feudal commons, the removal of the very minor security that the peasantry had, its privatzation of agricultural land, and then the establishment of the industrial economy on the basis of those so disposessed.
The state which right wing "anti-statists" so despise is an agent of the market which they glorify. That market couldn't exist without it and its coercive power.
You even touch on it above: eminent domain to take property and give it to a corporation. This doesn't surprise us at all. Such actions are intrinsic, from our point of view, to _capitalism_.
Marxism, and even Leninism -- before the word became marred with its association with authoritarian Stalinist regimes -- wants to destroy the existing capitalist state, and replace it with a system controlled by the majority of the population, the working class. Marx's term for this is very 19th century, and very unfortunate because it is easily misinterpreted: "dictatorship of the working class"; what he meant was not dictatorship in the form of a Stalinist, single, Communist Party, cult. He meant majority control. To some, "mob rule." It's just... we like this "mob"
Anyways, this is all very much a tangent. But I'm trying here to point to some of the fundamental points of confusion in these discussions. To most North Americans, "socialist" has become synonymous in their language with "government control", to the point where things like the 2008 bailout were called by many "socialist" interventions. In my mind this is an absurd misinterpration of the concept caused by 100 years of propaganda in political education and language.
The “majority” being in control is fine if you are part of the majority. The majority wouldn’t have a problem with laws that suppressed the minority.
Anytime we discuss systems of government, we have to deal with the reality of those systems. You can design a utopia on paper, but it doesn't usually play out that way. Governments also take some time to have observable effects, and so often times our discussion of forms of government have to rely on history as an element of that.
> In my mind this is an absurd misinterpration of the concept caused by 100 years of propaganda in political education and language.
But it's historically perfectly holistic in frame of the Stalinist regimes you mention. Supporters of full socialism and communism both like to reject every historical example and claim they don't count.
The reality is the whole notion of talking about "government systems" like they're replaceable components that we can evaluate like scientific experiments is delusional. Societies and especially economic systems develop their characteristics organically over hundreds of years. Bolsheviks slapping a "socialist" label on their society after their revolution has little bearing on the fact that in many ways Stalin's Russia was contiguous with Tsarist practice [and in fact many top members of his bureauracy were ex-Tsarist bureaucrats, and by the 30s pretty much every leading Bolshevik from 1917 was murdered or exiled...]. Minus the drastic influence of the orthodox church, of course
Holodomor is a clear example that genocides belong to socialists and communists too.
You're right that we can't talk about government systems strictly in the abstract which is why we use history, and while history has different context in each instance it consistently shows us that pure socialism ends at authoritarianism, whether that's the Bolsheviks, the Maoists, or the PCV.
True, and I generally try to avoid it. But sometimes pique gets the better of us.
> who don't agree with you philosophically
That's a pretty big leap you made. I tried (and continue to try) to keep my philosophy from being the focus of my comments. Perhaps you might be surprised to find yourself to my right, you never know.
As to whether the comment was broad and reductionist, who knows, it was a short comment on a huge topic on a niche web site. I wasn't trying to have a formal debate :). It also sounds like you took the comment a lot more personally than I ever intended.
Yes there was a small period in the 19th century where we had kings who had market economies but they typically had senates which contained most of the power and were generally just figureheads.
A corporation can't keep you from voting. It doesn't prevent you from donating money to your favorite political candidate, or telling your neighbors about it.
On the other hand as an example of authoritarianism, Xi Jinping has literally removed the ability for Chinese people to select someone else as their leader. Even their ability to elect non-CCP parties depends on his approval.
Socialism depends on cohesion. You can't have 40% of the country riot because you won't be able to maintain services, whereas capitalist economies tend to survive such upsets quite well. You don't usually see mass political actions shut towns down in the US. That's part of why authoriarianism is attractive to socialist countries because it's one way of maintaining cohesion. Unfortuntely, it works because you remove the rights of people.
At this point, both the hyper-capitalist trust in the free market, as well as the hyper-socialist belief that labor/the state are always better than private corporations are both closer to dogmatic religious beliefs than actual reality. There are certainly instances when the government will do a much worse job at running an economy than free enterprises. And there are instances when clearly government intervention and regulation is needed to protect society from bad actors (as what seems to increasingly be the case for certain megacorporations in tech, finance, the insurance industry). A balanced, case by case approach is necessary.
Unfortunately, more simplistic, easy to digest platforms based on worthless platitudes get more traction, probably because those fit on a bumper sticker or in a tweet more easily.
So we're on much more familiar territory here -- a large semi-monopoly corporate entity with an industrial workforce.
There's not a lot of Alvin Toffler here, and more of Henry Ford.
A trust is when multiple companies are in collusion. Are you claiming that Amazon is in conclusion with its competitors?
To call 'online sales' a single market is silly. Because other companies use the internet changes nothing. Amazon owns their segment.
But I still disagree with the notion that somehow because Amazon is "tech" this is different.
No, my solution is far more radical and is more along the lines of the socialization line above. And almost nobody here will agree with it :-)
Donating a few million dollars to a few hundred thousand workers makes close to 0 difference.
Taking a public stand in the hopes of making a systemic difference in the long term could change a lot.
Although you make a good point that he can FIRE due to previous income. Something nigh impossible on a warehouse picker wage.
I don't understand this attempt to discredit the person because they previously made some money at amazon.
A million dollars is still a lot of money. They still had to make a decision to turn down that easy money and speak up about it. They could have just as easily continued to work at amazon and save up 10+ million, etc.
This caught my eye! A one-percenter? More like a 0.01%er.