Just minutes after returning to the arid desert of Van Horn, Texas, from his first successful trip to space, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thanked the millions of customers and employees who allowed him to grow such a successful business. that he became a self-employed billionaire. -Financed your trip to space.
But since life here on Earth is riddled with tedious partisan points, Bezos’s moment of gratitude couldn’t go without criticism. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) took advantage of the moment to criticize Amazon’s working conditions and allege that Amazon is somehow “abusing its market power to harm small businesses,” a bold claim that ignores the value reaped by consumers. And that has become the surprisingly accepted consensus among both the mainstream and the fringe left.
Yes, Amazon workers paid for this, with lower wages, union breakdown, a hectic and inhuman workplace, and delivery drivers who had no health insurance during a pandemic.
And Amazon customers are paying for it, as Amazon abuses its market power to hurt small businesses. https://t.co/7qMgpe8u0M
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 20, 2021
Ocasio-Cortez is wrong to say that Amazon, and by extension, Bezos, has benefited primarily by abusing its market power or engaging in anti-competitive practices. Bezos is so wealthy because, for the better part of three decades, he built a company that could successfully deliver a wide range of consumer goods to customers in just a few days, serving 300 million people a year (with 150 million customers). those customers deciding Amazon services are so valuable that they choose to pay for an annual Prime membership). Bezos and other Amazons built a company that could survive the dot-com bubble, the subprime crisis and a pandemic.
The same people who see monopolies everywhere often measure how much market share Amazon has and what alternatives are still available to customers. Amazon has about 40.4 percent E-commerce retail market share. That’s a healthy part, but consumers have other options: Walmart sales comprise 7.1 percent of total retail in the US Target, Wish and other large retailers also ship directly to consumers. More people choose Amazon over its competitors because it has more stuff and its click-to-send speeds are half that of its competitors.
Of course, customers always have the option of looking for traditional retail equivalents; it’s just that many of them choose not to, prioritizing convenience (and, in a pandemic, security) over the fluorescent glory of big business in person. shopping box. But let’s be clear about which companies are losing money to Amazon. The company generate a lot of money from consumer electronics, which will account for about a quarter of Amazon’s total US sales in 2021, and clothing / accessories, which will account for 16 percent. Those looking to buy consumer electronics don’t frequent “family” stores, but rather big companies like Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, and other e-commerce hubs like Alibaba and Apple.
“Clearly, Amazon has been a boon to users in terms of the consumer surplus it generates and the antitrust charges against it are the kind of thing thrown at all innovators. market leading retailers through history, “says Ryan Bourne of Cato Reason.
These kinds of antitrust sentiments have been spewed out not only by far-left politicians like Ocasio-Cortez, but also by picks from the Biden administration like economic adviser Tim Wu and the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Lina khanThose who “view antitrust as an all-purpose tool to curb perceived business misconduct and correct market outcomes they don’t like,” wrote Elizabeth Nolan Brown in ReasonJuly edition.
“The idea that consumers choose to use products not because they are useful, but because big tech companies have misled or pressured them in some way is deeply ingrained … in the new antitrust crusade more generally,” he writes. “It’s a form of false consumer awareness where end users don’t know what they want (but members of Congress, of course, do).”
Of course, part of Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism is fair: Amazon warehouse working conditions are sometimes pretty badSince employees have so little time for breaks that they cannot use the bathroom or take time off for their tasks. Amazon workers have been denied adaptations for pregnancy and suitable sick leaveand warehouses have been hit hard by the pandemic. However, his claims that Amazon is involved in the union crackdown are unfounded (warehouse workers in Alabama actually voted against unionization), and the criticism he leveled at Bezos yesterday has been part of the course of someone calling Amazon’s lowest-skilled jobs “scams“while mobilizing for the cause of wealth redistribution. In addition, Bezos has acknowledged reports on the warehouse’s working conditions and has committed to making changes.
Over the course of the pandemic, Bezos’ net worth has increased by about $ 70 billion. But despite Ocasio-Cortez’s objections, her vast increase in wealth has been the result of improving the lot of millions of people.