Punching a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Amazon has ended a year of suspense by deciding that it is going to split its new second headquarters–“HQ2”–between cities just outside of New York and Washington, DC.  Hundreds of cities across the country had put together presentations and incentives packages for the retail giant hoping to land the 50-thousand high-paying tech jobs and the billions of dollars in direct and indirect spending by the company and its customers.  But in the end they are left disappointed and New York and Washington get to celebrate.


Except, some in these liberal hotbeds are not celebrating their incredible fortune.  Many of them are decrying Amazon’s decision to locate in their areas and are being very vocal in their displeasure.  The opposition to New York’s selection is being led by none other than the face of America’s Socialist future, Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Ocasio-Cortez says Amazon is bringing the jobs that “New York doesn’t need”.  She also shows an incredible ignorance of what Amazon actually does by questioning if these corporate headquarters jobs are going to be “low-wage” and if employees will be unionized.  That was followed by demands that Amazon pay to fix New York City’s crumbling public transportation system and that they build “affordable housing” for those that are not going to work for them.


This continues a trend in the major liberal cities across the US where local governments do everything they can to make themselves as attractive to the “progressive” young tech entrepreneurs and cutting edge companies as possible–and then complain and exploit them once they show up.  Cities like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco spent billions to provide bike paths, light rail, streetcars, free wi-fi, riverwalks and parks in the middle of dense urban areas.  They pushed industrial companies out of the city, tore down old factories to build large-scale apartment complexes (rather than single-family homes) on transit routes, declared themselves “sanctuary cities”, promoted their “diversity”, made recreational marijuana use legal, and mandated $15 minimum wages.  And like the ghosts of the baseball players in Field of Dreams, they did in fact come.


The “millennial friendly” cities saw huge booms in new residents, flush with cash from their tech jobs and looking to live the liberal lifestyle.  Rents skyrocketed, old, dumpy apartments and townhouses were remodeled or torn down to make way for new developments–displacing those that could no longer afford anywhere to live in the city.  Homelessness exploded and every other employer in town struggled to find workers–even at $15 an hour or more.


Now those same cities are turning on those that brought such prosperity to them.  Seattle initially levied its tech companies with a “head tax”, where every employee and new employee would be charged to fund homelessness programs (Amazon helped to get that law repealed quickly).  San Francisco voters just approved a similar tax–despite already having some of the highest taxes in the nation.  Now Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and other Socialists are telling Amazon that they shouldn’t bring their economic prosperity machine to New York or Washington either.


The Fox Valley was among those that initially considered making a play for HQ2.  Perhaps someone should shoot Jeff Bezos a quick text message reminding him that we may not have communities that cater to the lazy, liberal lifestyles of his employees, but at least we will welcome them with open arms.