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November 19, 2018

Reminder: the Amazon HQ2 is terrible business deal and a waste of taxpayer money

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As we noted a few days ago, it is difficult to justify the decision to spend $1.5 billion dollars incentivizing a trillion dollar company to move to a city that can’t maintain it’s transit system or manage to keep lead out of the drinking water at public school. Indeed, this is almost certainly going to be a bad deal for taxpayers in New York and Virginia. A very similar arrangement between the state of Wisconsin and Foxconn certainly was.

But what if all that weren’t true? What if the investment was 100% guaranteed to pay serious dividends to taxpayers? What if we could be absolutely certain that the establishment of Bezocracy in Queens wouldn’t result in an intensification of the housing and homelessness crises in the city?

It would still be a terrible, terrible thing to do, because Amazon is a morally bankrupt, fundamentally predatory enterprise. They’re evil. They do bad things in the world. No amount of upper middle class job creation makes up for that fact.

Several months ago, we covered a China Labor Watch report that Amazon’s Kindle, Echo, and Echo Dot were being produced by massively exploited laborers. To appropriately recognize the HQ2 announcement, we’d like to share a poem written by Xu Lizhi (许立志), a Foxconn worker who killed himself at the company’s Shenzen campus in 2014. This is what American taxpayers are subsidizing.

《我就那样站着入睡》
“I Fall Asleep, Just Standing Like That”

眼前的纸张微微发黄
The paper before my eyes fades yellow

我用钢笔在上面凿下深浅不一的黑
With a steel pen I chisel on it uneven black

里面盛满打工的词汇
Full of working words

车间,流水线,机台,上岗证,加班,薪水……
Workshop, assembly line, machine, work card, overtime, wages…

我被它们治得服服贴贴
They’ve trained me to become docile

我不会呐喊,不会反抗
Don’t know how to shout or rebel

不会控诉,不会埋怨
How to complain or denounce

只默默地承受着疲惫
Only how to silently suffer exhaustion

驻足时光之初
When I first set foot in this place

我只盼望每月十号那张灰色的薪资单
I hoped only for that grey pay slip on the tenth of each month

赐我以迟到的安慰
To grant me some belated solace

为此我必须磨去棱角,磨去语言
For this I had to grind away my corners, grind away my words

拒绝旷工,拒绝病假,拒绝事假
Refuse to skip work, refuse sick leave, refuse leave for private reasons

拒绝迟到,拒绝早退
Refuse to be late, refuse to leave early

流水线旁我站立如铁,双手如飞
By the assembly line I stood straight like iron, hands like flight,

多少白天,多少黑夜
How many days, how many nights

我就那样,站着入睡
Did I – just like that – standing fall asleep?

– 20 August 2011

 

 

 

Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.

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