Amazon Gets A Win At Madison City Council–In Spite Of Purists

It was ‘Madison being Madison’, but at least this time the naysayers did not win the day.

Even as the nation has been turned upside down, and it also feels as if we are inside -out, it was my hope to see a united city council agreeing that job creation, along with an enhanced tax base, might be the best path on which to proceed when it came to an Amazon project.

After all we have witnessed in the destruction of jobs and livelihoods with COVID-19 it seemed like we might want to think down the road about how to stir the pot and create some hope for the future. After all, is that not part of the job of elected officials?

The planned distribution center on the East Side, will create 145 full- and part-time jobs and is a solid win for Madison.  And for the 145 folks, such a place to work will be a big deal.  Apparently, all the alders, however, did not feel those jobs were the correct jobs that should be supported.

I only wish all the alders Tuesday could have been far-sighted about the reason this plan has merit. In the end, the council vote was 14-6 vote.  But it really does give me pause, that in spite of all the awful glaring headlines over job losses alders Tag Evers, Marsha Rummel, Patrick Heck, Rebecca Kemble, Mike Verveer and Grant Foster voted to reject Amazon’s plan.

It must be nice to have such purity of thought and self-confidence in the correctness of ideas that allows for denying adding jobs to our city.  I wonder if anyone of those alders worked to find any way they could say yes to the plan?  Or was the rigidity of their views about Amazon the sole determining factor?

Yeah, it takes no time to ponder those questions.

Silly me to have thought that all our alders, in this time of turmoil and economic upheaval, and who carries a responsibility to lift citizens up, show resolve at pointing to better days ahead, and marshaling our governing tools to demonstrate hope for the future, instead found six weak-kneed and cowering members among them, who failed at the task they were given.

Perhaps those naysaying alders think their unemployed constituents pay the rent and buy groceries with pure thoughts.

Thoughts About Amazon’s Seeking Second Headquarters

I read this broad-ranging look at the benefits to a city which lands the second headquarters for Amazon.  With Epic headquarters a short drive from Madison–and the thousands of their employees who obviously chose to live in Madison–there are many similarities that can be seen between what exists here and what will happen to the place which will be a new home for Amazon.

And then there are the benefits that ripple far beyond direct employment in high tech. Young people with discretionary income attract and support an entire economic ecosystem of restaurants, bars, movie theaters, bookstores, fitness centers, home furnishing stores, etc. Moretti estimated that every high tech job tends to create five more in the service sector. Some economists disagree about the size of the multiplier, but most everyone agrees it is substantial. In addition, the people who occupy high tech jobs tend to be net contributors to a municipality’s bottom line, paying comparatively more in all kinds of taxes (property, income, and sales), but using fewer municipal services, like police, public health, and public assistance. High tech jobs thus help replenish a city’s tax base, replacing the revenue that was once provided by heavy industry. Along with life-sciences and higher education, the tech sector has been key to the revitalization of several post-industrial cities like Pittsburgh, Boston, and of course, Seattle (the home of Amazon’s first headquarters).

Yet there is also an ominous potential downside to Amazon’s decision that has received far less attention. Last week, Zillow, the real estate site, released a study that estimated the likely impact of Amazon’s choice on rents in each of the 20 locations. According to Zillow, Denver and Nashville would see the biggest increase, followed by Los Angeles, Raleigh, and Pittsburgh. By contrast, a move to Chicago or Indianapolis would have almost no effect on rents because housing costs are kept comparatively low by ready access to land. In addition, though this did not figure in Zillow’s research, the tech sector tends to favor white men. Because of differential access to education and other professional opportunities that happen upstream, relatively few high tech jobs go to women and under-represented minorities, especially at the executive level. Quite apart from rising rents, therefore, the influx of high tech jobs may further divide rich from poor, men from women, and white from black and brown. (Ironically, Zillow may itself be an example of this phenomenon. Its website lists 12 corporate officers, ten of whom are white men. The other two are white women.)

Amazon Prime Still A Deal With 20% Increase ($119)

There is not a week that goes by that we do not receive a package from Amazon.  Last week three boxes arrived as it was James’ birthday.  The only trouble was making sure James was not shaking boxes before his 45th birthday

Be it the large 98-pound boxes with all the household cleaning supplies that otherwise would need to bought at a store and loaded and then unloaded from the car, or the latest curiosity I need to explore within the covers of a book there is just no better way to shop than with Amazon.

So I very much agree with Amazon justifying Prime’s 20 percent price hike, to $119 a year, by saying it is more a valuable service than when the fee last rose four years ago.     Too many brick and mortar stores do not stock the variety of colors of jeans as an example, or the variety of outdoor seat cushions.  Since we drive a Mini convertible I can also attest to the need for larger items to arrive from a truck!

The other part of the affection I have for Amazon is the speedy delivery.   In early April I wrote about this very topic.

With that in mind I searched for a book Thursday night on Amazon……I soon had purchased  The China Mirage: The Hidden History Of American Disaster In China by James Bradley…..At noon today–about 36 hours after I made the purchase–the postal delivery places a box on our front stoop.  Within a few minutes–enough time to stir some raw sugar into another cup off coffee–the first page was turned while sitting in our reading nook.

That is exactly why I love Amazon!

What We Are Thinking About Trump This Weekend At Our Home

With the truly concerning trade war which has sent jarring results through the markets my mind has turned to China.  Chinese history more to the point.   One of the areas that intrigues me is the diplomatic history between China and the United States.  Though China did not have state-to-state relations with the U.S. in the early 1830s  there were certainly entanglements which launched the dreadful Opium Wars.

With that in mind I searched for a book Thursday night on Amazon–another business which Trump has stupidly attacked–which might quench my thirst for more background on this topic and do so with a grand narrative.     I soon had purchased  The China Mirage: The Hidden History Of American Disaster In China by James Bradley.    The book aims to illuminate how American misconceptions about China have distorted our policies from 1850 to about 1950.

At noon today–about 36 hours after I made the purchase–the postal delivery places a box on our front stoop.  Within a few minutes–enough time to stir some raw sugar into another cup off coffee–the first page was turned while sitting in our reading nook.

I mention all this as Trump came to mind today while this all unfolded.

First, if there is one thing Trump should do is to sit down and read just any book.  But how timely it would be for Trump to read something about Chinese-American relations.  Just any amount of information at this stage would be substantially better than the simplistic and wrong-headed ideas that bounce about in the Orange Cage.

Second, how wonderful Amazon is for those who want more than what the brick and mortar shelves hold.  Bookstores too often play to the Nora Roberts crowd.  Clothes stores offer blue jeans and perhaps grey or black ones.   How about the olive colored ones?  How about the brightly colored sweaters instead of beige ones?

Yet Trump has attempted to denigrate Amazon.

We average one box a week from Amazon–today it was two boxes as James’ birthday approaches.  (Shh—he is not to know…)  We have free shipping and get up to 98 pounds of items so that we never shop for detergents or items that would require heading to store, placing in car, and then into home.  Just have the box arrive and open it and place items where they belong.

More time to then read about places such as China.

Thanks to Amazon.

Are Republicans Now Picking ‘Winners And Losers’?

Recall the cheesy mantra about picking ‘winners and losers’ that took place during the 8 years of President Barack Obama’s Administration?  It seems that Republicans are now doing the same thing they accused the successful and popular Democratic President of doing.

Trump has taken to twitter in a series of outrageous claims in an effort to deflect from his whores, turnstile White House employees, and sinking markets.   As is the case with his tweets facts are left alongside the toilet where he sits thinking.

“I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.”

First and foremost that is simply a lie.

Amazon isn’t causing the United States Postal Service to lose a fortune. In fact, it’s contributing to its biggest growth sector, which is—DRUM ROLL PLEASE– package delivery. Deals like the one with Amazon brought in $7 billion in fiscal year 2017.  What can also be said is that a 2006 law codified profitability into law, and an independent regulatory commission that reviews deals in the postal service annually gave it a green light on March 29th!

Trump is simply a complete idiot.

But back to the start of this post and my wondering what happened to those Republicans who spent the better part of the last decade saying that politicians and Washington should not “pick winners and losers”?

Could it be that Obama was black and Trump is Orange?