clippings

Vice: The Most Important Thing You Can Do on Prime Day Is Not Shop at Amazon

Read on Vice

“…Meanwhile, as the economy has improved in the last few years, and corporate coffers and Wall Street stocks enjoyed huge gains, growth in middle-class incomes were largely wiped out by inflation. Tens of millions of Americans remain underwater on credit-card, student-loan, or mortgage debt—if not a toxic stew of all three. Chances are, a healthy chunk of that $3.4 billion in anticipated Prime Day revenue will arrive in the form of new debt for you or someone you know. Maybe you’re already underwater on a regular credit card or even one of Amazon’s very own lines of credit. Either way, way, celebrating Prime Day means supporting the company and its political aims.

“They’re becoming central planners of the American economy,” Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute think tank whose research has focused on corruption and monopoly, told me. “Prime Day is just about pricing games, and they’re becoming the Soviet States of Amazon.”

So take a second and think about it. Do you really want to funnel more wealth to a company that—along with other Seattle powerhouses like Starbucks—decided $12 million in taxes (out of $3 billion in profit) was too much to pay to help address a homelessness crisis in its home city? Do you really want to be a part of a trend toward a consumer environment where one master corporation has the potential to set prices and even give its own products preferential treatment in a system used by basically everyone? Do you really want to add more fuel to the fire of politics running on a slush fund of organized money?

“This is just a way to enhance their power over everybody in the economy,” Stoller added of Amazon’s fabricated holiday.

Of course, it’s only understandable that Americans might not want to miss out on all the deals (how good they are is a subject of some dispute). But as if to drive home the stakes for Americans, at least some Amazon workers in Germany and Spain went on strike Monday to protest long hours, a lack of bonuses, and concerns about worker health. The spectacle should unnerve you given the sharp turn in America’s legal system away from workers’ rights and toward unlimited power for the rich and corporations.

No, it’s not like your buying a laptop on Monday is somehow going to restructure American labor law, but throwing your money at businesses that have a history, as Amazon does, of sticking it to workers and the poor is not sending the right message. When so much of our politics is about money and who wields it—and with a Supreme Court that seems virtually certain to favor big business over workers even more passionately than it has been—registering a modest protest by abstaining from this fake holiday isn’t a meaningless act of virtue-signaling. It’s a way for you to remind the most powerful people in America that never-ending corporate consolidation isn’t the only way to organize our society; it’s just the one we’re stuck with right now.”

Read the full article.

See the rest of Matt Stoller's work

Join the Movement


In America today, wealth and political power are more concentrated than at any point in our country’s history.

The Open Markets Institute, formerly the Open Markets program at New America, was founded to protect liberty and democracy from these extreme -- and growing -- concentrations of private power.

Stay updated


Sign up to stay informed.