This must be Opposite Week because I found myself — at least partially — agreeing with something said by socialist grandstander Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
She was criticizing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who narrowly lost the billionaire space race this month after piercing the earth’s atmosphere nine days later than Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.
According to the New York Post, the Democratic congresswoman said Mr. Bezos’ company abused its “market power” to decimate small businesses.
And just as a stopped watch is right twice a day, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is right about this. Amazon and other big-tech firms have concentrated wealth and market power into fewer hands.
She was responding to Mr. Bezos’ comments in which he thanked Amazon employees and customers who “paid for all this,” referring to his personal NASA, called Blue Origin. But his comments were appropriate because no business innovator, no entrepreneur, can succeed without great people and loyal customers.
But Rep. Ocasio-Cortez saw the statement as a slow pitch which she would hit out of the park to score political points.
“Yes, Amazon workers did pay for this,” she tweeted, “with lower wages, union busting, a frenzied and inhumane workplace, and delivery drivers not having health insurance during a pandemic.”
Swing and a miss!
Because what solution does she and her fellow leftists offer? They want Amazon to pay more taxes.
Here’s what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Am I supposed to be impressed that a billionaire went to space while he’s paid zero in federal income taxes some years and the workers at his company struggle to afford their medical bills, rent, and food for their kids? Nope. It’s time to invest in working people here on Earth.”
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted, “It’s time for Jeff Bezos to take care of business right here on Earth and pay his fair share in taxes.”
To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And to a leftist, every problem looks like an excuse to raise taxes.
But history proves that AOC’s and Bernie’s solution would make life harder on Amazon employees and customers. That’s because corporations don’t pay taxes. Never have, never will.
Sure, they can write checks to the IRS, but they can’t actually pay. That’s because corporations have to pass the cost of taxation to others. They can pay their employees less and offer fewer or cheaper benefits. They can charge customers more. And they can pay smaller dividends to shareholders (often pension funds or nest eggs of working Americans).
At big corporations, top executives will still pull in seven-figure salaries and send their kids to Ivy League universities. At small family-owned companies, owners may cut their own pay and hope their kids qualify for scholarships at state schools.
But the pain of higher taxes will always be felt by individual people and families, even if it’s a corporation that writes the check.
Yes, there’s a problem with a few big-tech companies dominating our economy and even our public discourse. But the solution isn’t higher taxes.
The solution is for those in power to take a hard look at our anti-trust laws to make big tech less big and less powerful.
Contact Bart Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.