Warehouse work is rising twice as fast as the national average at $15.00 an hour, thanks to Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senator Bernie Sanders proposed the Stop BEZOS Act to tax any company with more than 500 employees whose workers accept welfare benefits, such as food stamps. This clearly applies to Amazon, a Goliath with more than 500,000 employees that pays a median salary of about $30,000 a year.
Amazon is bending to pressure from left-leaning critics, who have called the company’s labor policies unacceptable for a trillion-dollar enterprise presided over by the world’s richest human, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.
Unemployment is less than 4 percent, so it’s becoming more difficult for companies to hire and retain low-income workers. This is particularly true in warehousing, where work can be grueling and wages are rising twice as fast as the national average.
National wage growth has actually declined slightly since President Donald Trump signed the tax cut into law.
Walmart, Target, and the Gap still don’t pay $15-an-hour floor for even part-time and temporary workers.
The Risk and Reward of Innovation In The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy, economist Mariana Mazzucato chips away at another myth of Silicon Valley exceptionalism: the idea that big tech and its investors deserve massive profits because they are risk-taking innovators who create value, rather than extract it. “In the case of venture capitalists,” Mazzucato writes, “their real genius appears to lie in their timing: their ability to enter a sector late, after the highest development risks had already been taken, but at an optimum moment to make a killing.” Much of the hard work of innovation, she argues, has been funded by the government, which sees little direct return. Contrary to tech industry sneering, public funds are responsible for a lot of the technology we attribute to Silicon Valley. Mazzucato points out that GPS was funded by the US Navy, touchscreen display was backed by the CIA, both the internet and SIRI were funded by the Pentagon’s DARPA, and Google’s search algorithm was funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Yet the government reaps few of the rewards. For instance, the same year the government loaned $535 million to solar-power company Solyndra, it also loaned Tesla $465 million. “Taxpayers footed the bill for Solyndra’s losses—yet got hardly any of Tesla’s” gains, she says. Solyndra has become “a byword for the government’s sorry track record when it came to picking winners,” a story that has helped keep regulators at bay, she says.
What are the consequences of allowing unrestricted growth of concentrated private power, and abandoning most curbs on anticompetitive conduct? As Wu masterfully reminds us:
We have managed to recreate both the economics and politics of a century ago – the first Gilded Age – and remain in grave danger of repeating more of the signature errors of the twentieth century. As that era has taught us, extreme economic concentration yields gross inequality and material suffering, feeding an appetite for nationalistic and extremist leadership. Yet, as if blind to the greatest lessons of the last century, we are going down the same path. If we learned one thing from the Gilded Age, it should have been this: The road to fascism and dictatorship is paved with failures of economic policy to serve the needs of the general public. (14)
While increasing concentration, and its negative effects on social equity, is a general phenomenon, it is particularly concerning for what regards the Internet: “Most visible in our daily lives is the great power of the tech platforms, especially Google, Facebook, and Amazon, who have gained extraordinary power over our lives. With this centralization of private power has come a renewed concentration of wealth, and a wide gap between the rich and poor” (15). These trends have very real political effects: “The concentration of wealth and power has helped transform and radicalize electoral politics. As in the Gilded Age, a disaffected and declining middle class has come to support radically anti-corporate and nationalist candidates, catering to a discontent that transcends party lines” (15). “What we must realize is that, once again, we face what Louis Brandeis called the ‘Curse of Bigness,’ which, as he warned, represents a profound threat to democracy itself. What else can one say about a time when we simply accept that industry will have far greater influence over elections and lawmaking than mere citizens?” (15). And, I would add, what have we come to when some advocate that corporations should have veto power over public policies that affect all of us?
The effect of knowing manager salary was more substantial for employees who learned about the pay of managers who were only a few promotions away, whose shoes they could realistically aspire to fill. We find that, when the boss is fewer than five promotions away, for each 10% increase in the perceived salary of the boss, employees spend 4.3% more hours in the office, send 1.85% more emails, and sell 4.4% more.