AMAZON HQ2 UPDATE: Beware Robber Barons Bearing Gifts
The Amazon pull-out from New York City reminds us to beware of 21st Century Robber Barons bearing gifts.
What they Promise:
– Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs!
– Opportunities for Community
– Support for Local Business
– The Sun, Moon, Stars and Tree Farms!
What they ACTUALLY DO FOR US:
Not as much as we deserve, let alone need. Basketball Courts and game tickets are not the benefits Detroiters are looking for.
DPP is a part of the national coalition to demand good jobs and community benefits from Amazon no matter where they land. We celebrate the efforts of activist and communities across the country who organized around Amazon’s HQ2 competition.http://ourhq2wishlist.org
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos abruptly announced that they would be pulling out of their proposed new headquarters in NYC. The company created a national competition between locations for their “HQ2” project last year. In the past, Bezos threatened to move jobs out of Seattle when their council voted on a corporate tax policy to ease their housing crisis. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/may/15/amazon-threatens-to-move-jobs-out-of-seattle-tax-council-vote-homelessness)
Here in Detroit, Dan Gilbert led the proposal for Amazon HQ2 with a pitch of $4 billion in public subsidies. At the same time, the Mayor and majority of City Council have resisted a real Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance while facilitating the transfer of public resources to wealthy corporations.
The perspective being pushed in Detroit is that if we don’t give huge tax abatements, or if community asks for too much, developers will go elsewhere. Amazon’s pull-out in NYC came amidst resistance from groups and public officials concerned about workers rights, resident displacement, and the strain on existing infrastructure. The organized resistance in NYC reflects a level of compassion and commitment to real progress instead of corporate interest.
Duggan says that if he told developers they had to negotiate with community they would “take their money to the suburbs.” (Visit our YouTube channel) It’s a disrespectful narrative that recasts racist stereotypes and undermines potential power from community.
Myths of corporate fragility and resource scarcity are perpetuated and create a fear of economic loss. This fear keeps residents complacent and complicit in the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and public subsidies to white billionaires. All this in the nation’s largest majority black city, with some of the highest poverty rates anywhere.
This strategy for economic development perpetuates the superiority of the Mayor and his administration’s policy above the community’s needs and values, ignores calls for racial equity and inclusion, and justifies putting potential profits over people.