Bozos in Space

Many thanks to the Root Simple readers who left comments on my post about my ambivalence on selling things through Amazon on this blog. One reader suggested IndieBound’s affiliate program and I just signed up for an account. Another reader noted Amazon’s convenience for folks who live in rural places, something that reminded me of how out of touch I am with life outside of big cities.

The Atlantic has a long profile of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos written by Franklin Foer that’s well worth reading. It has a number of Bezos factoids that caress all the keys of my trigger piano all at once. If you’d like to get me a-ranting just mention your idea that our future is in orbiting space colonies and that you pal around with Holllywood industry critters. Then there’s this:

At the heart of Amazon’s growing relationship with government is a choking irony. Last year, Amazon didn’t pay a cent of federal tax. The company has mastered the art of avoidance, by exploiting foreign tax havens and moonwalking through the seemingly infinite loopholes that accountants dream up. Amazon may not contribute to the national coffers, but public funds pour into its own bank accounts. Amazon has grown enormous, in part, by shirking tax responsibility. The government rewards this failure with massive contracts, which will make the company even bigger.

But, as the article points out, all of us Amazon Prime members pay a sort of tax every year. It turns out that tax may not make sense from a home economics standpoint:

When Amazon first created Prime, in 2005, Bezos insisted that the price be set high enough that the program felt like a genuine commitment. Consumers would then set out to redeem this sizable outlay by faithfully consuming through Amazon. One hundred million Prime subscribers later, this turned out to be a masterstroke of behavioral economics. Prime members in the U.S. spend $1,400 a year on Amazon purchases, compared with $600 by nonmembers, according to a survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. It found that 93 percent of Prime customers keep their subscription after the first year; 98 percent keep it after the second. Through Prime, Bezos provided himself a deep pool of cash: When subscriptions auto-renew each year, the company instantly has billions in its pockets. Bezos has turned his site into an almost unthinking habit. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Jack Ryan are essential tools for patterning your existence.

In addition to my problems with all the affiliate links embedded on the 3,345 posts on this blog I’m also left to ponder an alternative to our Ring doorbell that I bought before the company was owned by Amazon. I don’t like that Jeff is watching my front porch and turning over the data to the Man. I miss what the Bezos doorbell gadget replaced.

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2 Comments

  1. There is, indeed, a rural/urban divide in the US. I live in a rural place by choice, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain. However, there are assumptions made by companies who mostly cater to urban and suburban populations, chiefly regarding deliveries and access to services. I have my ways of compensating for such issues, as I’m sure that others do, too.
    I’ll read the Atlantic profile of Jeff Bezos.

  2. Even in my mid-size town for some specialty items, in volumes short of buying by the case or the pallet, it’s a challenge to find ANY source other than Amazon. Even big retailers like Lowes and Home Depot simply don’t carry a LOT of items and won’t order them for you unless you buy it in bulk.

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