In one of the uglier episodes of the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump threatened Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with lots of anti-trust problems after the Bezos-owned Washington Post ran duly skeptical stories.
The orange-haired ex-reality show host has negatives aplenty, such as the Trump University lawsuits and a refusal to release his tax returns, both continuing issues.
Just the other day, however, Bezos tweeted his congratulations to The Donald over winning the 2016 Presidential election.
Congratulations to @RealDonaldTrump. I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country.
Perhaps that will suffice. Remember how Putin endeared himself to Trump with a little sweet talk?
But I’m not so certain the Bezos tweet will do the job. Even TeleRead congratulated Trump, and we meant it. Let’s hope that Trump succeeds in positive ways such as getting a huge infrastructure program going to fix our roads and bridges and create jobs for the blue-collar workers who have fared so badly under trade agreements.
So no big deal about the congratulatory tweet. It’s just that it probably is not enough. Jeff might want to do a little follow-up. Maybe three times a day? It wouldn’t hurt. What’s more, let’s consider something else.
Although @realDonaldTrump is a heavy Twitter user, he’s in fact an Old Economy guy who reportedly isn’t even at home on a desktop computer. He is into real estate, after all. With all the business Amazon has taken away from brick-and-mortar stores that pay rent, Bezos must come across as Satan. Trump would love to see Amazon socked with more taxes, and meanwhile he claims Bezos bought the Washington Post to lobby for favorable treatment on taxes and other issues.
Trump and the Amazon-CIA connection
For now, Amazon’s shares have taken a nasty hit. Still, you never know what deals can happen between The Donald and Bezos to either the advantage or disadvantage of the latter. Guess who even now provides major IT services to the CIA. U.S. intel agencies love Amazon’s cloud. In the interest of national security, not to mention fairness, I’d hope The Donald wouldn’t and in fact couldn’t yank away the $600 million contract. But in today’s surrealistic Washington, anything can happen. Ego first?
Of course, another issue remains regardless of the number and nature of tweets from Bezos to Donald Trump. With Trump in the White House, will Amazon be more likely to turn over lists of people’s ebook purchases and other tidbits when the feds come calling? Will a Trump administration even use ebook-related snooping, social media postings and other material to compile mass enemies-lists? I warned of that very possibly some months ago in The Georgetown Dish, and unfortunately, I may be right in time. The U.S. News site reports:
What does President-elect Donald Trump have in common with Santa Claus?
He’s keeping a list – and probably checking it twice.
Trump campaign surrogate and head of African-American outreach Omarosa Manigault told the Independent Journal Review on Tuesday that the campaign has been keeping a list of his enemies.
“It’s so great our enemies are making themselves clear so that when we get in to the White House, we know where we stand,” Manigault said. “I would never judge anybody for exercising their right to and the freedom to choose who they want. But let me just tell you, Mr. Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list…”
How long a list, if it exists? How many on it? And will it turn into a mass list of enemies just like those of yore in East Germany and the Soviet Union—perhaps with help, however reluctant, from Amazon and other e-commerce sites?
Related: Worried about the NSA under Trump? Here’s how to protect yourself, from the Guardian. Of course, even TOR isn’t absolutely safe.
Trump would win the hearts of a lot of working people in middle America if he reigned in Amazon overweening ambitions. The company is doing more harm that WalMart, which at least creates local jobs. Amazon is killing retail jobs all across the land, replacing ordinary jobs with seasonal sweatshops in giant warehouses. And with his drone schemes, Bezos has targeted one of the few blue-collar jobs that still pays well—trucking.
Some states, including mine, get doubly shafted. Amazon doesn’t have a warehouse in the state, so that means no property taxes, corporate taxes, or tax revenue from workers. And not being in the state also means no sales tax is collected. Small business in those states not only have to pay all those taxes, they have to pay more to make up for Amazon’s absence.
Amazon is hardly alone in corporate creepdom. Apple, sitting on about $200 billion in cash, is demanding that India, with hundreds of millions of people living on only about $2 a day, give it money for building a factory in India. I sometimes refer to this behavior as the Geek Syndrome. Geeks are notorious for not understanding other people’s feeling and preferring machines instead. Make them corporate executives and they do a lot of harm without troubling what passes for their conscience.
Back in the 1990s, I heard several of high-tech types describe their business plan, one of the devious schemes to get rich on IPOs that resulted in the Dot Com bubble. When I figured out what they were doing, I was tempted to tell them:
“When the revolution comes and they’re taking people like you to the wall, don’t expect me to hide you.”
So you can imagine that I’m not lying awake at night fretting that Bezos, now the second richest person in the country, might slip to third of fourth place. Amazon, its upper ranks filled with lawyers, has demonstrated over and over that it has no ethics, that it will only be restrained by legal action. We need legal action.
I have my doubts about Trump. Hillary was consistent in her corruption. She hates those she calls “deplorables,” and brags to cronies about her public and private policies, the latter being for those who pay. As Secretary of State, our foreign policy was up to sale to the highest bidder. As President, she’d have done the same with domestic issues. That’s why the nation’s billionaires were behind her—including Bezos.
Trump isn’t that way. He’s all over the place ideologically. He’s likely to pander to some rich people, after all he is rich himself. But he’s also likely to get delight in seeing other rich people squirm. I don’t think we have had a president like him since Andrew Jackson—who was also a mixed bag of goods.
We’ll see. If I’d known Hillary fans would go this absolutely besierk, I might have voted for Trump just for the fun of it, rather than leaving that part of the ballot blank.
Will these believers in Trump as the Second Coming of Hitler change their mind when their fears prove unfounded? No, not much chance of that. Fools never learn. Once a fool, always a fool.
Remember rule one of campaign promises: anything said during the campaign goes out the window after the election. It’s anyone’s guess which campaign promises Trump will be willing or able to keep.
@Michael: Chris is right—we’ll just have to wait to see how things shake out. Meanwhile I am hoping mightily that a racist and anti-Semite and all-around jerk like Steve Bannon does not become White House Chief of Staff. My bet is that he won’t. If he does, however, then Trump clearly is even worse than billed. As for Amazon, it’s a mix of good and bad. I share your concern over the loss of blue-collar jobs. I’m not so sure about automation bans. Instead workers need retraining opportunities and if need be a guaranteed income, financed by higher taxes on the super wealthy, Bezos included. More protection of the right to unionize would help as well.
@Michael: P.S. I agree with Trump’s enthusiasm for infrastructure spending — which would provide one alternative to low-paying warehouse jobs.
I really don’t know what to expect from Trump. It’s going to be like a roll of the dice in a national game of chance.
For Amazon, I think, Trump has a whole long list of people he wants to punish, and it may be time to keep a low profile, and hope he has other things to keep him busy. For example, he could try to “lock her up” and deal with that fight. Or he can let her off and hook and deal with angry supporters who really wanted to see jail time handed out. There are only so many fires Trump can stoke at one time.
People here might remember I am not a fan of Amazon, but you can’t go after companies because you don’t like what they are doing.
If Amazon has broken laws then it must be prosecuted, but otherwise we don’t use the law to enforce popularity contests or protect economic turfs of friends.
Obama’s vendetta against the “Redskins” trademark was an abuse of federal power. This kind of stuff has to end.
It’s also worth remembering that this isn’t your usual case where the same party controls both the White House and Congress. Remember all the recriminations and hostility between Trump and the Republican Party in the weeks leading up to the election, with a number of major, powerful Republicans calling on Trump to step down? (I’ll bet all those folks are feeling pretty foolish now.)
We’re already hearing differences crop up in what Congresspeople are saying and what Trump has said. Most notably, Ryan says he’s going to dismantle Medicare, whereas keeping Medicare was one of the few things Trump was constant about from week to week. Trump is a populist, whereas (as a friend of mine put it in conversation) most of Congress is so un-populist that it’s doubtful they even know what a populist looks like.
Also worth noting: Trump and banks historically haven’t gotten along well, with the banks refusing to float Trump loans or interfering in his real estate deals. I gather Trump basically despises bankers. Though there are plenty of things I disagree with Trump about (not to mention Pence), I think I would rather have someone who hated the banks in office than someone who was cozy with them.