It’s the holiday season in the United States which means, among other things, even more frenzied hyperconsumption than usual, and no single company is more synonymous today with this country’s unique brand of consumerism than Amazon.
Amazon, which paid no federal income tax on more than $11 billion of corporate profit in 2018.
Amazon, which is named for the vast rainforest now under thread of destruction and which, at least on my browser, knocks the rainforest entirely off the first page of Google search queries.
Amazon, the CEO of which is, even after his divorce, the richest person in the world.
That Amazon. The one, it seems, that almost everyone in the US uses these days. The sprawling paragon of surveillance capitalism. The defense contractor extraordinaire (the CEO of which recently proclaimed, of his company’s relationship with the Department of Defense, “We are the good guys.”) The cloud platform that hosts/dominates much of the contemporary Internet. The online retail behemoth that has clogged US streets with its deliveries and US landfills with those deliveries’ detritus.
Amazon: Isn’t it about time you stopped using it?
Bezos is not your friend and the company’s business model is driving us towards panoptic dystopia and global climate crisis.
But as LeVar Burton used to say: Don’t take my word for it.
Here’s Reveal’s piece, Behind the Smiles, on how “Amazon’s internal injury records expose the true toll of its relentless drive for speed”.
Here’s Jeremy Scahill’s interview (jump to the 50 minute mark), from his podcast Intercepted, with journalist Emily Guendelsberger on her new book “On the Clock, What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane”.
Here’s a segment from Democracy Now! and some Rutgers investigative journalism students entitled “As Amazon Hits $1 Trillion in Value, Its Warehouse Workers Denounce “Slavery” Conditions”.
And here’s a Vox video short, “The environmental cost of free 2-day shipping” – it’s short, but pairs nicely with the slightly longer, “The Story of Stuff”, from The Story of Stuff Project.
As for the purchases, you don’t need all that crap, at least not most of it, and neither do your friends and loved ones (and acquaintances and colleagues). Here in New York, we’re lucky to still have locally-owned businesses, and if we don’t want to see them destroyed, we ought to patronize them. Slight differences in convenience and price should easily be offset by the value of human relationships and functioning communities.
Oh, and if you’re salving your conscience about your overconsumption by religiously recycling – keep doing it; it’s important and worthwhile – but sadly, much of that stuff is still ending up in landfills and incinerators at best, and oceans and rivers at worst, and the whole push to personalize the problem of mass waste is being underwritten by the plastics industry. Sorry.
The consumption is the problem. Amazon is built on fueling it. Let’s give that name back to the trees.
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