Uber-everything company Amazon (Market Cap: $865 billion) – is a monster.
Heralded as a free market success – Amazon has actually engaged in a whole lot of very anti-free market practices to get to be as huge as they are.
The “Amazon as free market success” story is further undermined – by the massive rashes of cronyism it receives from governments at all levels.
Pushback? Yes – FINALLY.
There was Amazon’s nationwide Headquarter Bribe-a-Thon. Where governments everywhere said they would tax We the People tens of billions of additional dollars – so they could not tax Amazon. All to get Amazon to locate their new offices in their respective jurisdictions.
But what cronyism giveth government – cronyism can taketh away.
And the pushback against Amazon – is even threatening to topple one of the biggest crony deals…ever.
Wait – an ex-Amazon employee…in the Defense Department? Writing contracts for Amazon? You bet.
“…makes it much more likely you’ll get government contracts.”
Now that’s cronyism. But wait – there’s even more:
“‘In October 2017, (ex-Amazon employee Deap) Ubhi recused himself from the procurement process.’
“Well yeah, Ubhi’s crony work was done. How do we know Ubhi’s crony work was done?:
“‘(S)oon after his recusal, Ubhi left the Pentagon to return to Amazon Web Services (AWS).’”
Now THAT’s cronyism.
That’s a government-crony revolving door – located in an elevator car.
How does Amazon spend roughly two decades engaging in blatant and wanton anti-free market business practices – with literally zero government scrutiny?
How does Amazon spend roughly two decades receiving countless blatant and wanton acts of government cronyism?
Amazon gets all of this and more done – by throwing tons of lobbying money around.
And now that Amazon is FINALLY receiving some pushback – they are substantially upping their government bribery ante.
“After building out a powerful influence machine in Washington over the last few years, Amazon is going on the attack.
“The Seattle-based company is pushing aside trade groups it doesn’t like and creating new ones it does. It’s dispatching senior executives to woo antitrust enforcers. And it’s poaching senior staff from government agencies and congressional offices.
“Federal records show that Amazon.com Inc. lobbied more government entities than any other tech company in 2018 and sought to exert its influence over more issues than any of its tech peers except Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
“Last year, Amazon spent $14.2 million on lobbying, a record for the company, up from its previous high mark of $12.8 million in 2017….
“Since 2012, Amazon has ramped up spending by more than 460 percent.…
“Amazon is also showing a new level of assertiveness in advancing its corporate interests, though largely out of the public eye.
“The company’s recent high-profile imbroglios, which include the abrupt abandonment of a deal for a new headquarters in New York City and founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos’ blackmail allegations against the National Enquirer, belie the extent and sophistication of the company’s behind-the-scenes efforts.”
And when you really want to go Uber Crony – you go ex-Barack Obama Administration.
“Jay Carney, President Barack Obama’s press secretary and now Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, oversees the Washington policy office, whose roster of in-house lobbyists ballooned to 28 in 2018, from 11 in 2015.
“That doesn’t include the 13 outside lobbying firms Amazon employs.
“‘They realized they’re just getting so big,” says Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor, of Amazon’s lobbying prowess. ‘They’re crushing so many small players, they’re recognizing that there’s going to be some political backlash.’”
“Political backlash.” FINALLY. Yes, please.
Think the $10 billion Defense Department contract is big? Amazon is looking to crony its way into an additional $50 billion in monopoly government money:
“One of Amazon’s priorities is to persuade federal agencies to rent Amazon’s vast cloud computing services rather than maintain their own. (Amazon then bids for the work through the federal procurement process.)
“The company also wants to power a planned, governmentwide e-commerce portal for official purchases of everything from office furniture to paper clips—a $50 billion market.”
The government coin Amazon is crony targeting – keeps rolling. Ever huger and huger.
Amazon’s very many victims – are pushing back. FINALLY:
“Old-line computer and software vendors – not to mention retailers that stand to lose business – have begun to chafe at Amazon’s ability to outmaneuver them in Washington….
“In letters to the General Services Administration, which oversees government suppliers and buildings, retailers and wholesalers have tried to protect their ability to compete for some of the e-commerce portal deal, which could be even more lucrative than the cloud one.
“The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which claims to represent 42 million people who work in the retail industry, weighed in.
“So did Walmart Inc. and Staples Inc., arguing that the government should hire multiple companies, not just one, to create online portals from which federal agencies could order supplies.”
Pushback. FINALLY. Yes, PLEASE.
Here’s hoping it finally breaks Amazon’s crony monopoly log-jam on all things government money.
This first appeared in Red State.