If Amazon was going to open a large office in New York anyway to support its original programs ("streaming content"), then New York should never have offered incentives or tax breaks aside from the lease of city land. New York offered Amazon far too much. And we’ll be reading articles supporting that in the years ahead.
And that’s if this deal sticks. Perhaps it won’t.
New York attracts smart, energetic people to live there, just as it called me in 1995, when I was just 22. They know what New York has to offer. Pity Amazon didn’t see any value in my city without corporate welfare and publicly-financed handouts. Or maybe, New York isn’t as great as it thinks it is. Maybe having some of the best museums, parks, bars and cultural institutions in the US is not a draw at all. We don’t have the best hospitals and universities in the US. That’s Boston. We don’t have the best mix of dominant professional sports teams in the US either. That’s also Boston. Maybe New York doesn’t realize that it’s not number one in anything aside from population and local taxes. It’s just another desperate city begging corporations to rent space. That’s what this process revealed.
This is classic welfare for billionaires. States and cities should stop giving taxpayer money to the richest corporations and individuals on Earth, and spend it on public projects for the benefit of the people. Wouldn't that be a radical idea. Having a contest between cities intensified the madness and showed the intelligent among us how destructive it is..
This isn’t the first time that New York State has thrown taxpayer money away in trying to attract new companies. The Start Up New York program blew a big budget ad campaign and tax breaks to net either just over or under 1,000 new jobs, depending on which report you choose to believe.
Considering how much Albany was willing to give, one has to wonder if New York’s economy is not as strong as Albany tries to make it appear. Upstate unemployment is a Mississippi-like 11%. The city is now made up of luxury towers full of millionaire families and absentee billionaires built over crumbling infrastructure. New York is not well. And I think Albany showed its hand and its future economic forecast in this deal.
There is strong resistance to this deal. It has already exceeded exceptions in that it has forced Amazon to reconsider leasing land in Queens. And the resistance has proven that the Democratic base in New York has shifted to the left. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blaso are not progressives, and the base knows it.
And as a footnote to this ordeal, I hope that Mayor de Blasio has killed one of the worst buzzwords of corporate America in the last 20 years: synergy. When he and Cuomo did their rare joit press conference to announce the Amazon deal, de Blasio was asked wouldn’t it be awkward for Amazon to build a corporate campus next to a public housing complex. He answered that having the rich and poor next to each other on the Long Island City waterfront would produce extraordinary “synergy.” In other words, both sides would benefit from each other. Bullshit. Get out of here with that word. That buzzword is now dead. And hopefully, so is the Amazon tax break and subsidy from Albany. Amazon can reconsider Virginia or North Carolina now.