Like many tech-company executives, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is a man of the left. But it appears socialist-leaning Democrats are gearing up to go after him anyway—because he practices capitalism.
Witness Senator Bernie Sanders’s recent effort to make Bezos feel “the Bern.”
On his website, Sanders says: “Amazon is one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, and its owner, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man on the planet, worth over $155 billion. Despite this, Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing to survive.”
Amazon responded by defending its practices. The “average hourly wage for a full-time associate in our fulfillment centers . . . is over $15/hour,” the company writes. According to Payscale.com, that number is accurate for average hourly employees. For salaried employees, the average is $100k.
Note to Bernie: Millions of Americans would love to be that “underpaid.”
There may be some Amazon employees on Medicaid or food stamps. But $15 an hour is about $31,000 a year, well above the threshold for Medicaid eligibility even under Obamacare’s expanded level. Thus it is very unlikely many (or any) full-time Amazon warehouse workers would qualify for Medicaid. If some do, they are almost certainly part-time or seasonal workers.
Ironically, Sanders and the left have been on a years-long campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, plus provide health and retirement benefits and paid leave. Amazon does all of those things, but that doesn’t matter.
Set aside the hypocrisy that a politician, who has never run a business and whose handful of employees are paid by taxpayer dollars, wants to scold a man who employs 566,000 people worldwide, Bernie’s issue isn’t really about workers’ incomes.
It’s about who ultimately controls the means of production. Socialists believe the government (a supposed proxy for “the people”) should decide how to distribute corporate wealth—or any wealth, for that matter.
It’s the same rationale behind Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recently introduced Accountable Capitalism Act, which would put a government committee in charge of distributing profits for companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more.
By initiating these attacks, Sanders is signaling his like-minded socialists—e.g., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Andrew Gillum, Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, etc.—that it’s open season on Bezos and other successful left-leaning capitalists.
Bezos’s crime isn’t not sharing the wealth; millions of Americans, both Amazon employees and stockholders, are immensely better off financially because of his efforts. Bezos’s crime is that he thinks he and his board should decide how best to spend their company’s profits.