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Amazon Played Y’all - Part 1

Coretta Mondesir - November 14, 2018

 
Long Island City, Queens -  “N” Train Heading into Queensboro Plaza’s Station amongst the neighborhood’s new highrises.

Long Island City, Queens - “N” Train Heading into Queensboro Plaza’s Station amongst the neighborhood’s new highrises.

 

All year, we saw major cities across the country acting like kids trying to be picked for a game of dodgeball, to become the hub for Amazon’s new headquarters. Amazon is a powerhouse of a company, it has millions of consumers, hundreds of thousands of employees, and Jeff Bezos’s wealth makes the President seethe at his $156B net worth. (Yes billions)

 

On its grandiose hunt for a new headquarters, cities laid out the red carpet to attract Amazon’s newest headquarters. It was quite a spectacle as billions of dollars in incentives and subsidies were thrown at the feet of Amazon in an effort to court the company. NYC, unnecessarily, participated in the contest offering short of a blood sample to get the tech giant’s attention. Even Governor Cuomo jokingly suggested changing his name to Amazon Cuomo if that is what it takes to win Amazon’s heart; all while not disclosing how much of the city’s wallet he was willing to open up to the company.

 

Ultimately, NYC runs the risk of Amazon being the guest that eats all your food, and uses your hairbrush; while your left broke, tired, and with an empty fridge.

 

J-O-B-S. A single word has the country going wild for Amazon. Employment is usually the main ingredient that brings the depth, the flavor, and adds to the presentation of the plate. Employment, especially jobs with higher wages, means greater tax revenue. Greater tax revenue gives the city more money to play with to allocate towards policies that matter. It also means assumes consumer spending, which in turn means more revenue via things like sales tax.

 

That all sounds great, so what is wrong with Amazon in NYC? Giving tax breaks to corporations to earn tax revenue on its employees makes you question who the government represents. Re-directing valuable and limited resources to a single company is terrible economic policy that can do more harm than good. Especially for low to middle income constituents, and people of color.

 

Amazon promises 25,000 jobs, which sounds incredible since low to middle-income New Yorkers need diversity in workplace options with opportunities for a living wage, and social mobility. But how many of those jobs will be given to actual New Yorkers? Especially New Yorkers of color? NYC already is a hub for transplants, and telecommuters across different industries such as finance and fashion. Bringing e-commerce to NYC will definitely add to the sexiness of the city; but not if we have to pay for it and not if we cannot demand a commitment to minorities.

 

With a name like Amazon moving in, there’s the potential for an influx of people willing to move to NYC too. This can further exacerbate NYC’s housing crisis. Simply, more people require more housing; in which the latter is something NYC just does not have. The city already is in desperate need of creative solutions to combat the umbrella problem of lack of affordable housing, and its spokes of homelessness and gentrification. All which disproportionately affects people of color.

 

Additionally, the strain on New York City’s transportation system will be overwhelming. Ask any New Yorker their biggest gripe of the city, and the first thing may very well be the MTA”. Between DiBlasio and Cuomo playing divorcees who don’t want to accept responsibility for the failing transit system, adding more people will add to the congestion and frustration of commuting in the city. More people on the same resources will put a stronger strain on the system. Adding more people in Long Island City, will put a greater burden on the G line which may already crack under the pressure of the L line the MTA plans to take down. All while placing a cap on ride-sharing.

 

They say, you have to spend money to make money, but what’s the price of the livelihood of current constituents? Amazon is a giant, but NYC is the Big Apple; greater negotiations could have been made to ensure New Yorkers actually won something from this deal.

 

#Amazon, #NYC, #Cuomo, #DiBlasio, #Economic development, #Minorities, #Low

Income, #Middle Income, #Affordable Housing, #MTA, #Jobs, #Employment