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A Snake in the Amazon

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 LeeWood 26 Jun 2020

Old news with a new twist. Back in April a mystery donor added £250,000 to a UK fundraiser to help high-street bookshops. Turned out to be Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Lazda who initiated the fundraiser comments:

Q: “I’m glad that this money is going to a good cause, but there is no greater threat to high-street bookselling than Amazon, and their labour practices are a well-documented disgrace,” - Twitter.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/23/amazon-mystery-250000-pound-donor-to-uk-bookshops

Anand Giridharadas is a frequent critic of billionaire wealth and has called out Bezos directly in several interviews. Here he puts a telling slant on pandemic dynamics, based on american politics:

Are the Billionaires Helping During the Pandemic, Actually the Problem? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8dFHb-0nSQ&t=782s

Q - paraphrase discussion from 11 mins in:

The billionaire philanthropists are responsible for the way the pandemic has rolled out ... they are the ones who have 'intellectualy discredited, defunded and defanged the government'. They - 'shut down the pandemic prevention office', they - prepared the whole scenario acting 'through lobbying on behalf of corporate interest'. They - 'removed regulation, cut funding and cut taxes'

'I see an arsonist returning to the scene of the fire - in costume - in pretence as a firefighter, trying to buy mercy on the cheap'

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 LeeWood 26 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

So what can be done - vote with your wallet ?

Use this post as a survey cell - and state your disapproval :

Hit LIKE if you can commit to boycotting Amazon trade and commerce

Hit DISLIKE if you don't care 

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 Deleted bagger 26 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Have a like.👍🏻

I've had a one-man by boycott of Amazon, Booking.com, Uber, AirB&B and several other cuddley capitalist chyters for several years. Okay, I'm just one grumpy lefty but I prefer to spend my money carefully and with companies that don't suck the life out of society.

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 plyometrics 26 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

I’ve purposely not bought from Amazon for ages now. Nothing against big retail, but Jeff won’t be getting any of my cash anytime soon. 

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In reply to LeeWood:

I’m ok buying from Amazon and know quite a few folk who work there (Fullfillment Centres or whatever they’re called) who would most likely struggle to get a job anywhere else. 

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 Flinticus 26 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> the way the pandemic has rolled out ... they are the ones who have 'intellectualy discredited, defunded and defanged the government'.

Really? I think Trump / Pence / Republican party more than capable alone of intellectually discrediting the government - honestly, did it have any intellectual credit before the pandemic? Not to mention defunding, which appears to be a core principle of the RP 

Post edited at 09:55
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In reply to LeeWood:

I have just ordered 200 coffee filter papers from them, does that mean I am going to hell? (Same day delivery and I don't have to go to the shops)

If I buy a paper book I would go to a shop, but most books I buy are digital on a kindle.

Post edited at 09:56
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 LeeWood 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Deleted bagger:

> "chyters' 

😀   👍

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 john arran 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Deleted bagger:

What's your beef with Airb&b specifically? I've had very good experience with them both in staying places and in renting places. When they arrived on the scene there were all sorts of others trying to compete in the same market and it quickly became clear that airb&b simply had a much better deal to offer than the others, i.e. less commission, more flexible website, etc. It's hardly surprising that they've grown so fast. Admittedly, I'd happily concede that any one company being so dominant in a market is unlikely to be a good thing in general, but (in stark contrast to the likes of facebook) the appear to have got there by virtue of their own positives rather than by harshly quashing or buying up all competition.

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In reply to john arran:

Here’s a good Air BnB story:  visiting my daughter on edge of London, booked airBnB. Got chatting with the owners (who are always present, it was a room and breakfast and tea and cake for £30 per night).  They are Methodists, and their church was raising funds for homeless hostel. ALL their Airbnb profits go to this cause - quite a neat fit, raising funds by offering a room, which in turn gives a room to a homeless person. 

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 Alyson30 26 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

The reason we have incompetent governments is because people voted for them.

The reason high street bookshops are struggling is because they’ve stayed behind the times.

Blaming Amazon for everything is ridiculous.

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In reply to LeeWood:

> The billionaire philanthropists are responsible for the way the pandemic has rolled out ... they are the ones who have 'intellectualy discredited, defunded and defanged the government'. They - 'shut down the pandemic prevention office', they - prepared the whole scenario acting 'through lobbying on behalf of corporate interest'. 

I don't think you can directly blame your favourite billionaire, or even Jeff Bezos, for what Trump chose to do without apparently consulting anyone knowledgeable.  

Actually, my impression was that it was done in a blunderbuss approach to cutting federal spending on principle (especially if it smacked of welfare or public health), combined with a visceral hatred for anything initiated by Obama.

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 Deleted bagger 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Alyson30:

> The reason high street bookshops are struggling is because they’ve stayed behind the times.

The reason we have a good bookshop in Holmfirth is because local people support it. Even during the restrictions we have been ordering and picking up books online from them. It's the same with our excellent outdoor shop, Peak Footwear. If small towns want quality small shops to survive they have to furquent them. The level of customer service in these shop is on a whole another level to most retailers.

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In reply to Deleted bagger:

I'm with you. I have never bought from Amazon and I hope I never will. I've never bought from Starbucks either. American supersize companies worry me and disgust me in equal measure. Especially with their dubious accounting practices and refusal to pay fair and proper taxes.

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I buy everything through Amazon whenever I can for the simple reason that it only needs the one password and they have all my details and card number already - I simply can't stand the faff of doing it all over again with another company if I can avoid it and then, worse, inevitably going through all the forgotten password faff if I ever buy from the site again. I'll happily pay a bit more to Amazon for the stress-free online experience when necessary.

If Amazon can do it, why can't all other online retailers subscribe to a system which only requires one password and which keeps all my details in one place?

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 Alyson30 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

Most online vendors will have paypal, Amazon pay, or Apple Pay implemented, meaning you don’t need to create any new account.

There are actually plenty of very good online shops beyond amazon !

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 LeeWood 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> I don't think you can directly blame your favourite billionaire, or even Jeff Bezos, for what Trump chose to do without apparently consulting anyone knowledgeable.  

But you can blame the billionaire lobby for firstly manipulating the election of Trump - knowing he would make the right mistakes on their behalf

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 LeeWood 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Deleted bagger:

Naming AirBnB raised my eyebrows too. For the second time.

Apparently when Barack Obama was asked to name his fav books - top of the list was 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism' . Which somehow connects with shuffling of Whitehouse staff over to Silicon Valley (?). In this article AirBnB gets several mentions.

https://money.cnn.com/2016/08/11/technology/obama-staff-silicon-valley/

Whats worrying is the recent tendency for these cyber companies (starting with Google) to appropriate your data - and AirBnB trades a lot of fairly confidential stuff between hosts and clients. We acted as hosts until a couple of years ago, and were poised to startup again - but this might just quench my interest ! 

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In reply to LeeWood:

> Naming AirBnB raised my eyebrows too. For the second time.

> Apparently when Barack Obama was asked to name his fav books - top of the list was 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism' .

I seriously doubt that a man of Obama’s wit, intelligence and education has that anywhere in his top hundred favourite books.

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 LeeWood 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Don't shoot the messenger ! Check this out at 1h 28mins

Edward Snowden and Naomi Klein Discuss The Creeping Surveillance State | Surveillance Pandemic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLTXwUwRRlo&t=2s

Note: highly informative and up to date discussion - flavours of the new normal. Hearing Snowden speak alone is revalatory ! 

Post edited at 22:48
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In reply to Alyson30:

> There are actually plenty of very good online shops beyond amazon !

Yes, I have used some when I can't find what I want on Amazon, but my default is to avoid the faff and stick with Amazon whenever I can.

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 jess13 27 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

There is a lot of naivety on how these monopolies achieve the power. They're funded by billions of dollars (where it comes from you can guess) and are prepared to take a loss for a number of years . Meanwhile they undercut all the smaller competitors or buy them out until they are the only ones left then hey presto they have you by the balls. This is the face of modern capitalism, remember that the rich and the greedy dont want just a share of business they want it all and the public has been complicit in all this while moaning that the High Street is turning into a shithole.

My naive view of capitalism was about competition, innovation and money from the banks to fund it at it simplist level -a model that has been successful for about 200 years providing goods,jobs and generally rising living standards for everybody. The above model where monopolies have been allowed to flourish doesn't bode well for competition they  just use their financial clout to control markets and increasingly politics. The USA in particular  used to wield its anti trust laws against monopolisation but seems to have turned a blind eye to all these businesses (most have appeared out of the internet in the last 30 years) perhaps its no coincidence most of them come from there.

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 Eric9Points 27 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Sorry but this critique of billionaires is a domestic US conspiracy theory. 

You need to understand that most of these grandiose but nutty theories are thought up by social inadequates sitting in their bedroom in Cincinnati or Albuquerque who would have difficulty pointing out on a map where most of the other countries in the world were.

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 LeeWood 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes, I have used some when I can't find what I want on Amazon, but my default is to avoid the faff and stick with Amazon whenever I can.

But this is the trap which all these cyber-services suck us in with - make it easy / free / convenient / efficient - then suck the life out of us by killing the environment and society we know and love. Amazon, Facebook, AirBnB  etc all contribute to our problems - if the CEO's do not pay their due taxes to keep government alive, and more generally if corporate lobby  steers policy which damages health, the environment etc

Amazon notably has has increased it's power during the pandemic - $24bn richer, scores of small business and high st shops forced out of business - massive centralisation of services and supply chains - all steering towards monopoly.

Once that arrives we're all just play-doh in the hands of some power freak

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In reply to LeeWood:

> But this is the trap which all these cyber-services suck us in with - make it easy / free / convenient / efficient.

Well I'm all for easy, convenient and efficient (I don't want to waste more of my life than I have to shopping). Not bothered about free - I'm prepared to pay for the convenience and think Amazon should be properly taxed. Isn't the solution for governments to get their act together and do the taxing?

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 Pefa 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

Anand Giridharadas is a ' social inadequate sitting in their bedroom in Cincinnati or Albuquerque who would have difficulty pointing out on a map where most of the other countries in the world were.'

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In reply to Robert Durran:

> Isn't the solution for governments to get their act together and do the taxing?

Yes, and that would require us to harmonise our tax structure with the EU - the threat of which was one of driving motivations behind some of Brexit’s big backers.

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 LeeWood 27 Jun 2020
In reply to jess13:

> This is the face of modern capitalism, remember that the rich and the greedy dont want just a share of business they want it all

Shared sentiments. In my view (past tense / inattention) rich people were those who wanted to make themselves comfortable and and secure - and live a nice life - but to themselves. And some may be like that, but for others they can't stop the need for greed.

The rich get richer and more numerous - then inequality stirs discontent of the masses - and the rich become anxious because what they have is threatened. Then a new element comes in to play - the rich don't just need more wealth - they must also exert control to keep their wealth.

This is where we are now - and why many of us are waking up to the process. Someone recently started a thread on UKC 'How do you start a revolution ?' - With great difficulty !

The more time goes on the more difficult it will be - the systems which tie us down are NOT simply 'reasonable' governmental measures - for common well-being; they are steered by / and in favour of security for the ultra rich.

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 jess13 27 Jun 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

With regard to Amazon in its defence people will say that lots of small traders market their goods through them -well yes they do. But if your product is a great success they will either buy you out or  source the product themselves and undercut you. When you trade through them you have to be aware what you are signing up for. You've done the hard work and taken the risks they'll just pinch the profit from under your nose. A common scenario is someone looking at a product in the High Street shop ,getting a demonstration by the shop assistant and then going home and buying it cheaper on Amazon. Amazon is just a parasitical business in this case. Nothing wrong with that its just business -kabisch -there's no such thing as morality in business-a slippery slope if ever there is one. When Amazon or rather the people who control Amazon and the market and when all the shops are gone does anyone think things are going to be cheap?

Competition seems to be anathema to these modern day billionaire entrepreneurs just look at all the ridiculous patents they tried to claim (eg rounded corners on phones),suing small businesses because they were developing a product similar to theirs knowing full well the small business could not afford extended litigation. Dirty tricks to gain monopoly control.

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 Alyson30 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes, I have used some when I can't find what I want on Amazon, but my default is to avoid the faff and stick with Amazon whenever I can.

I buy pretty much everything online and I find myself using amazon less and less, I usually rely on specialist website for each category of item.

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