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NYC and Amazon: It is Business as Usual in the Global Economy By Oren M. Levin-Waldman
After months of wooing Amazon and then being selected as the location of its new second headquarters, Amazon decided not to come to New York after all. To listen to the protestors that opposed the expenditure of $3.4 billion to lure Amazon, this was a great victory for the forces of good that resist the evil of billionaires on behalf of working Americans. According to Alexandra Ocasio- Cortez, the freshman congresswoman from The Bronx and Queens, the people of New York stood up to the world’s richest man.
Ocasio-Cortez may or may not be the principal person to blame for this pullout, but the deal that she and others decried, is nothing new. Rather it has been characteristic of urban politics for decades now, especially as cities have had to deal with the fallout from the transformations from industrial-based manufacturing to post-industrial service economies. To put it bluntly, urban politics has been about development and redevelopment. At the state level, these politics have amounted to a race to the bottom.
What, then, would the Amazon deal have meant to New York? Well 25,000 new jobs would have been created. By no means would these jobs have been replacements for industrial manufacturing jobs lost over the last few decades. On the contrary, they would have been high paying jobs for workers with considerable skills. In all likelihood, they would have attracted workers from the outside, in which case low-skilled and low-wage workers in the immediate area would not have derived any immediate benefit. Rather the increase in demand for housing would have driven up housing prices and apartment rentals, thereby forcing these workers out to the periphery.
AOC claimed that because Amazon was opposed to the new facility becoming unionized, her protests against Amazon really protected those who would have worked for Amazon from being exploited. Really? Are workers earning a minimum of $150,000 a year exploited in the same way as low-wage workers who can’t even earn $15.00 an hour?
Socialism may feel good for some, and maybe the apparent victory of David over Goliath will give comfort to some workers. But let’s not kid ourselves. The protest here demonstrates nothing more than an ignorance of economics and the nature of urban politics in the real world. Yes, the deal was going to cost New York taxpayers around $3.4 billion, but it was expected that it would generate over $27.5 billion in state and local revenue over 25 years. Moreover, there likely would have been tertiary benefits, as new Amazon workers would be patronizing businesses in the local economy. And these are the businesses that over time might have hired those workers closer to the bottom of the skills and wage distribution.
When politicians celebrate this type of loss, they clearly don’t understand what their function in Congress is supposed to be. Nobody from her district in the Bronx and Queens sent her to Congress to be the leading spokesperson for Green energy, let alone to sponsor a new Green energy New Deal. That is a luxury one may indulge in after, and only after the interests of her district have been represented. AOC was sent to Congress to bring back “bacon” to the district.
Restoring the Middle Class through Wage / Oren M. Levin-Waldman / Palgrave MacMillan
This book makes the case for minimum wage as a way to improve well-being of middle-income workers, reduce income inequality, and enhance democracy….
Minimum Wage: A Reference Handbook / ABC – CLIO
The Minimum Wage: A Reference Handbook By Oren M. Levin-Waldman. As of 2014, the minimum wage in Seattle is $15 an hour — double the federal minimum wage.
“Wage Policy, Income Distribution, and Democratic Theory” By Oren M. Levin-Waldman
Dr. Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D., Professor at the Graduate School for Public Affairs and Administration at Metropolitan College of New York, Research Scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, as well as faculty member in the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School. Direct email to: firstname.lastname@example.org