Amazon: praise or bury?

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Slate's Reihan Salam writes in praise of Amazon:

Even if Bezos is in his heart of hearts a villain devoted to driving every mom-and-pop store in the world out of business, the company he's built is very much a force for good. It is a force for good not just because it keeps the Salam household stocked with paper towels, dish soap, rolling ball pens, map tacks, and lots and lots of cheap books, but because it points American capitalism in a better, healthier direction. [...]

When we decide that Amazon is just a little too innovative and a little too tough, what is the message we're sending to the next entrepreneur who is debating whether to take on the thorniest challenges? No, I'm not saying that it's OK for Standard Oil to come along and gouge its customers because we don't want to discourage future robber barons. I'm saying that having the government step in and squash Amazon before it actually uses its (supposed) pricing power to screw consumers will likely yield less innovative entrepreneurship. The only people who will win in this scenario are the mostly wealthy people who own shares in lazily managed companies. Hurray.

Innovative entrepreneurship is exactly what the American economy desperately needs.

I would hardly call Amazon's abusive practices "a little too tough," but Salam seems determined to whitewash the situation. He concludes by saying that "Instead of damning Amazon, we need to be asking why we don't have more companies like it." Salon pegs this as a "silly defense of Amazon" and notes that it leaves out workers:

Tip of the hat to Salam's attempt to spin carrying water for Jeff Bezos as standing up against entrenched power. It's a nice rhetorical move, especially if your audience is socially aware enough to know there's something gauche about reflexively venerating the 1 percent. But as Salam reveals with the second element of his argument, this through-the-looking-glass version of populism is fundamentally hollow. Because Amazon and Bezos shouldn't be celebrated simply for the way they make our nicknacks cheaper, Salam argues, but also for the way they inspire the Peter Thiels and Jeff Bezoses of the future to make everything else better, too. The argument, basically, is that if we come down hard on Amazon now, well, we risk nothing less than a mass exodus into Galt's Gulch.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on October 16, 2014 4:40 PM.

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