New York City Vs. Amazon, who lost?

Question: What is a tax incentive?
Answer: Allowing an entity to function by reducing their taxes or letting them pay less in exchange for something.

Why was the Amazon exit from New York City a bad thing?

Amazon is one of the largest corporations in the world. It’s founder and principal, Jeff Bezos, is said to be the richest man in the world (that’s debatable, consider the many Sheikhs, Prince’s and  Middle Easterners that own many of the world’s oil refineries/reserves). Many people, like me, that have little or nothing may hold resentments toward Amazon (for the purpose of this article we will use the terms Amazon and Jeff Bezos to mean the same thing) because of the massive wealth it has. While that is understandable, the haves vs. the have not’s has been an issue in America since it’s founding.

I think many people got stuck on the fact that Amazon is very wealthy. But as much as some of us may hate it, the fact of the matter is that we do live in a capitalist society, the United States of America is a capitalist society.

So lets say that we have a depressed neighborhood and a wealthy developer wants to create a large factory of some type, lets just call it Amazon. In exchange for investing billions of dollars to develop this massive factory and generate twenty five thousand jobs, the government says OK rather than paying 100% tax (this is a hypothetical scenario) you must pay 70% or not pay any taxes for five years. Keep in mind that the government does not have to layout any money upfront, the taxes that are being discussed come from the projected income that will be generated by this massive factory. Nothing comes from the governments coffer.

In my opinion, the loser in this scenario is the community, the winners are the politicians. I heard one politician boast on TV that the community won, that they were able to beat the big capitalist giant. Wrong. By Amazon leaving this community think of the things that went with it: 1) 25,000 jobs; 2) billions of dollars added into New York’s economy and into the local community, ie. restaurants and other stores and shops where these employees could their spend money.

I think that people need more information. Well the information is out there for anyone that wants it. Even when coming from our favorite leaders the message is convoluted.  Sometimes their goals differ from those of the community needs. Now I ask this question who is going to provide 25,000 new jobs in LIC, New York City? The government can not develop 25,000 new jobs and guess what? If LIC, needs money to repair it’s  roads or to hire more teachers, police, etc. where do you think that money is going to come from? The answer is OUR taxes. That’s right our taxes will go up so that the government could generate the funds needed for these new repairs or to hire more teachers, police, sanitation, etc.

I am a native New Yorker, I am a poor native New Yorker. I too get upset when some people have so much while others have so little. Sure there is a disparity. Sure I wish we could redistribute the wealth, but that is never going to happen, not in America. So what do we do? Should we continue to cut off our nose to spite our face or do we learn to take something and keep aspiring for more, a bigger share of the pie?

What is going to happen with that land that Amazon was going to occupy? Are we going to get a bunch of box stores, will it be developed into more high rise buildings? Believe me if housing is built there the community will once again lose. Talk about gentrification. LIC is twenty minutes from Manhattan, any tall buildings built in LIC will have some pretty amazing views of the New York Skyline, cha ching, can you say high rents.

I know that when I was younger I loved all that radical stuff, protesting, marching and in my time sit-ins. I wanted to stick it to the man, etc. But as I grew up my vision changed and what used to be important to me back then seem a little less important to me now. I still consider myself a left leaning democrat, I hate oppression, racism, and abuse by the entitled classes. But I just ask myself, I wonder who is going to step up and bring to the table something as big or comparable as the offer that was worked out with Amazon? Those negotiations took months. Community board input, local elected officials input, etc. It was a done deal until someone found a platform with which to play David to Amazon’s Goliath.

I left New York for a few years and now that I’m back I can not even afford to get an apartment in my old neighborhood of East Harlem. I now live in Brownsville, Brooklyn. It just so happens that crime stats indicate that Brownsville has the highest crime in all of New York City. Se la vie, right. That life for the poor in New York City. 

I remember LIC before there was a Silver Cup Studios, it used to be a bread factory, Silver Cup Bread. It is not a bad thing for the factory to be converted into a TV Studio, but how many locals work in that studio? Has anyone created a training program that will open the doors for locals to get jobs as gaffers, grips, production assistants? I could be wrong maybe those things are happening, maybe there are training programs that actually get local residents into TV/Movie production. But, I seriously doubt it. After the Silver Cup Studios were built, or maybe before I really can’t recall, up went the Citi Corp Building.

I wonder what type of tax abatement’s or incentives were given to make this building happen.  Quid pro quo. I give you give. I really don’t see what was wrong with giving Amazon tax breaks in exchange for desperately needed jobs. I think anyone in their right mind would rather work a minimum wage job than to have to go on Welfare (Public Assistance). I just think that negotiations could have continued while Amazon provided jobs. Nothing is perfect, nothing. But New York just lost a huge tenant. A tenant that brought with it 25,000  jobs and a big bump in our economy.

This is just my opinion, what’s yours?