Aren’t Amazon the very cards?

In 2015, Ohio gave Amazon more than $17 million in tax breaks to open its first two distribution centers in the state. The handout was heralded as a job-creator.

By August 2017, more than one in ten of those new Ohio Amazon employees or their family members received government food assistance, state data show.

The data, obtained by the research group Policy Matters Ohio and shared with The Daily Beast, suggest chronic poverty in the once-promising Amazon centers. Policy Matters Ohio estimates that more than one in ten Amazon employees in Ohio receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, which are available to people and families living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, Amazon is living large in Ohio, receiving more than $125 million in tax breaks and cash grants to open new facilities in the state since 2014.

Hmm, well, is that good or bad? What’s the usual rate of food stamps among working people in Ohio?

From Ohio Policy Matters, thus the very same source:

In Ohio, 10 percent of all workers, 523,800 people, are SNAP participants.

So Amazon, and Amazon employees, seem to be representative of employers and employees in Ohio.

Hmmm.

30 comments on “Aren’t Amazon the very cards?

  1. Maybe Amazon is no different to the average employer but I see no value to a situation where the taxpayer subsidises low paid employment.

  2. “Maybe Amazon is no different to the average employer but I see no value to a situation where the taxpayer subsidises low paid employment.”

    What taxpayer subsidises low paid employment?

    Would you be happier if they were unemployed?

  3. No I would not rather they were unemployed. But that’s not the only alternative, is it?

    How about employment earnings are enough to support basic living costs? I appreciate that means fewer jobs but actually bothering to enforce the immigration laws would do a lot for the population/jobs balance.

    I also appreciate that there will be people on in work benefits due to their poor choices but that can also be addressed without the taxpayer being on the hook.

    I have no dog in any fight in Septicland but Britain has been transforming itself into a low wage low productivity economy and there are no benefits unless you employ a lot of domestics or have arrived from Krapistan and are looking for work. Plus we’re also paying for an ever larger and more vibrant army of the permanently work shy.

  4. A lot of benefits have nothing to do with ensuring basic living costs are met. They’re about ensuring a far greater standard of living than that.

  5. What MC said. Why is the taxpayer shovelling subsidy money into Jeff Bezos’ pockets to create shit jobs that treat people like garbage?

  6. “Tax breaks”

    That’s not shovelling anything anywhere. Its not taking.

    If I, as king, habitually cut the thumbs off my subjects and then say to you that if you come and live in my kingdom I won’t cut your thumbs off – have I given you two thumbs?

  7. We are basically talking about single moms who work a low-level job at Amazon getting food stamps. Why it’s Amazon’s fault that these ladies have bigger families than they can afford is a mystery to me.

  8. To expand on that last comment a bit. I recently hired a young single mother with 2 kids for an administrative assistant position (~$30K a year) at my company. She may well be eligible for food stamps at that salary. But what is the company supposed to do about that? Pay her more than we would pay a single person because she has kids to take care of?

  9. AndrewC – potato, potahtoh. Amazon is one of those HyperMegaGloboHomo corporations with its snout buried deep in the tax trough. A tax break here, a postal service subsidy there, a bung from local govs competing for the dubious honour of hosting their second HQ elsewhere… pretty soon we’re talking serious money.

    Why should a company that pays shit wages and treats its workers worse than Poundland be privileged over the likes of Poundland?

  10. “How about employment earnings are enough to support basic living costs?”

    They weren’t available, so they took the job at Amazon.

  11. “Solid Steve 2″

    And how are amazon privileged over Poundland?

    Some jobs are shit. All the economics of them deserve is shit wages. If a single person sharing accommodation with mates gets the job the wages are probably OK. If a single mum with 3 kids who demands a four bedroom house for her family and nursery fees paid and a couple of holidays a year ‘because her kids feel deprived if they don’t go” then I doubt the pay is enough.

    But why the fuck should Amazon be expected to foot the bill fro the extra?

    If you can set out why the wages paid for those bottom of the ladder jobs aren’t enough for a single person in their first job who is looking to climb the ladder then fine, I’ll agree with you.

    Otherwise you are asking Amazon to over-pay the single person or pay different rates for the same job just so people can be financially insulated from their life choices

    If you feel bad about it, give your Amazon delivery person a £5 tip each time they deliver.

  12. Get used to it. With more and more automation, the value an entry level job adds to a company is decreased. This is only going to get worse.

  13. In large part Ohio Policy Matters can thank the employer requirements of Obamacare for the fact that so many Amazon warehouse workers are eligible for SNAP. Obamacare requirements incentivize keeping workers (especially unskilled, low wage workers) below the 32 hour per week threshold for classification as ‘full-time employees’, thus making them eligible for healthcare insurance coverage from Amazon.

    As Timmy says, incentives matter.

    What is amusing, in a grim sort of way, is the Ohio Policy Matters is just the sort of progressive activist organization that supported – and still supports – Obamacare.

  14. It’s worth noting that a family of four can have gross income of up to $31,980 a year and still qualify for SNAP.

    The threshold isn’t absolute poverty by any stretch of the imagination.

  15. “Maybe Amazon is no different to the average employer but I see no value to a situation where the taxpayer subsidises low paid employment.”

    The advantages are that it gives people experience of employment, which helps them to acquire the skills and habits needed to get a better job, and it offsets the costs of welfare (which is what this is) by giving them something productive to do. The alternative is unemployment benefit, which costs more and produces less.

    Any business can only pay people what the product of their labour is worth on the open market. If people are incapable of doing anything worth more than $5/hr, then either they’re paid $5/hr, or they’re unemployed. You can’t magic up the money to pay them out of nowhere.

    So if you’ve got a lot of people who don’t have the skills to do anything worth more than $5/hr, you can let them starve, or you can pay them $10/hr for doing nothing in perpetuity, or you can suplement their $5/hr wages with another $5/hr welfare, and that enables you to support a lot more poor people for the same money, and gives them skills, experience, contacts, practice, work ethic, and a history of hard-working employment they can put on their CV to show prospective employers they’re not an unemployable waste of space. What’s not to like?

    It’s true that it’s not a good thing that there are so many people without the skills to do anything people want doing. That’s a problem that we need to do something about. Subsidising their employment is one route to addressing that problem. If you’ve got a better idea, go ahead. But simply paying them money for nothing, or forcing employers to employ them at a loss isn’t a solution.

  16. “How about employment earnings are enough to support basic living costs? ”

    Here let me correct that for you.

    “How about employment productivity enough to support me being able to justify paying my unskilled idiots more pay?”

    The people getting these indirect subsidies are some horrible combination of feckless, stupid, unskilled, lazy and insane. The only ones there to subsidize them are both of us as taxpayer or me as employer and I’ll shut the whole works down or fire all my unskilled idiots before I subsidize them one fucking cent.

  17. “The people getting these indirect subsidies are some horrible combination of feckless, stupid, unskilled, lazy and insane.”

    Or simply unfortunate. Or losers in the Mendelian lottery.
    Or victims of protectionism.

    There’s a very good book on the third world economies, ‘The Mystery of Capital’ by Hernando De Soto, that demonstrates how most people in the third world are actually hard working and decent people with plenty of wealth, who are unable to get a foothold in the legal markets because of the bureaucratic legal system placing barriers in the way and then charging a fee to bypass them.

    There are people on welfare who deserve a (temporary) leg up, or a safety net. There are lots of people on welfare who would do *anything* to get off it. They’d even work for less than minimum wage, if they were allowed. There are decent people trapped in poverty, as well as the feckless.

    There are better solutions. Insurance, training, education, free markets.
    You can have sympathy for the poor, and still disagree with the welfare ‘solution’.

  18. “You can have sympathy for the poor, and still disagree with the welfare ‘solution’.”

    Sympathy for the poor has left us $21,000.000.000.000 poorer . . . and the same number of poor.

  19. A young lady near to me works at amazon as an amazon employee. Her wage is in excess of £15k a year. She gets state help too.
    She has 3 kids and is a lone parent.

    Why should amazon pay her more money because of her kids? State involvement is down to the kids being there, as a single person on that wage she’d get no state help.
    So 2 females the same age working for the same employer in the same job and been there same time – should they both get the same wage for the job or should the employer pay the one with kids sufficient to not have them require state aid?

    Which do people want? Equality? Or wage set by circumstances?

  20. Solid Steve – amazon don’t pay shit wages. Least in the UK they don’t.
    They may more than millions of workers get.

    We have a growing minimum wage here – over time more and more jobs get swallowed up in it. So far some of the big companies are keeping ahead of the minimum wage for their staff.

  21. “Or losers in the Mendelian lottery.”

    Quite. Like I said: “feckless, stupid, unskilled, lazy and insane”. They were born that way mostly.

    And I’m all for giving them some help. Help from all of us, not just their employers.

    At the same time, at some point, the Lions need to kill a few idiots after the herd has made reasonable efforts to keep those idiots out of the tall grass.

    We are currently intentionally breeding more idiots.

  22. Ceteris paribus, you would probably expect Amazon to have more than state average of its employees on benefits given that their workforce in the distribution centres is going to skew towards low skills

  23. As Dennis says, “incentives matter”.
    The benefit system incentivises people to indulge in lifestyles their earnings capacity is inadequate to support. As has been said above, you can’t pay people more than the value they add with their work. That’s not employment, that’s charity. You’d be asking for wealth redistribution within Amazon itself, because the cost would fall on the more productive Amazon workers. Government policy is hardly Amazon’s fault

  24. I make under the $15/hr wage that the so-called progressives want. I get around 6% taken off for Social Security, 1.4% for Medicare, and then income tax. I’m going to be paying just under 3% to New York, and about 5.5% to the feds. I think overall it’s about 15.7% of gross.

    If the first 15/hr for 2080 hours (52 weeks at 40 hrs/wk) were truly tax free, I’d be getting well over $4K in my paycheck over the course of a year.

  25. JerryC: there does seem to be a current push for needs-based wages rather than value-of-work-done-based wages. “I have seven kids, you must pay me MOAR!!!” Ok, that chap over there is single, with no kids, we must pay him less FOR EXACTLY THE SAME FUCKING JOB.

  26. “I have seven kids, you must pay me MOAR!!!”

    Would that work for other lifestyle choices too? eg “I owe Big Tony £250k in gambling debts, you must pay me EVEN MOAR!!!”

  27. The issue is not that Amazon is paying low wages. Every company pays the minimum they can but the social welfare system is such that people are getting payments far and above what their value is and the taxpayer is being stiffed for the difference.

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