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Brooklyn Reader 1
You know... There's some possibility they would consider fixing that, if that wasn't where all their campaign donations were coming from. (I'm not implying that Amazon is specifically one of their funders, but I'll bet they have a vested interest in lobbying Congress to maintain the status quo.)

Until we find a way to fix our campaign system to cut all that money out of it (and considering "Citizens United," I don't think the Supreme Court is ever going to let us), our government is going to be prone to tailoring policy to fit major political donors' interests.

Our government is corrupt. Maybe the politicians aren't individually corrupt, but the need for campaign cash exerts a significant pressure that affects their legislative efforts. This is a structural problem, and it needs fixing.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 7, 2012 at 8:04 AM · Report this

The good news ( for seattle) is contrary to CW, amazon actually makes enough money to have 2 billion lying around dodging taxes.
Posted by TheStreets on December 7, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
@1 I agree that our campaign finance system is a bit of a problem. However, I think this year's election results showed us that big money doesn't influence politics as much as we thought. Thanks to the Citizens United ruling the Republicans had access to pretty much unlimited cash. They still lost and Karl Rove is now persona non-grata on Fox News because he wasted so much of the Koch brothers' money.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on December 7, 2012 at 8:26 AM · Report this
Amazon's loophole particularly burns me because the do nothing at all in the way of civic philanthropy. All those loopholes for taxes. All the sweet real estate deals in Seattle. Anything back to the community? Crap.
Posted by gator bait on December 7, 2012 at 8:36 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 5

For all the "UN sanctions" that go on about the Internet and carbon credits, isn't it time we really clamped down on international finance?

We need to ferret out these ridiculous havens for madmen and get to work on instituting a truly fair worldwide system for capital access, accreditation, stock monitoring and financial reporting. It's no good for one country to have modern laws if there are rogue towns where anything goes.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http:// on December 7, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
Brooklyn Reader 6
@3 Big money may not influence election results as much as we thought, but that's not the same thing as saying it doesn't influence politics, or legislation.

It certainly doesn't improve the latter.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 7, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
Amazon, the online Walmart.
Posted by pussnboots on December 7, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 8
@1: I have always thought that campaigns should have a maximum amount they are allowed to spend on their campaign, period. Everyone has the same limit, they can spend it however they want.

To make up for the limited visibility of the candidates this would bring, their should be two or three debates every month for the last three months or so of the campaign, hosted by a neutral party (bring back the League of Women's voters!), where the candidates have no say over the rules or questions.

Every major party has a place at the debate (Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Constitution), and equal time to speak. The parties themselves will be responsible for funding the debates.

Of course, Citizens United would have to be repealed, and Super PACs would have to be eliminated first. This would fix the money problem.

What we really need though is European style representative government to break the two party death grip.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 7, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
NotSean 9
@3 We're getting cocky when we think out democracy isn't for sale (or, really, already sold). Te election was way too close.

The Rs, the Sheldons, and the Roves have simply learned it will cost a little bit more next time, but only a little bit. I'm sure they're already on it.

Back to the tax thread...
One of the arguments for allowing a business to get away with this behavior is that it promotes jobs - the business has more money to expand, and, yeah, Amazon has masively expanded. But, how many other jobs have been lost, as the goliath uses those tax 'savings' to undercut and demolish others who cannot or will not behave the same?

Posted by NotSean on December 7, 2012 at 8:43 AM · Report this
Amazon is one of the worst corporate citizens. It's especially pathetic given the generally strong culture of corporate involvement in the Northwest from companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, (the now extinct) WaMu, and many smaller companies like Red Hook.
Posted by Smartypants on December 7, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
@9 I think the Sheldons and the Roves learned that running on a pro-rape platform is a bad plan no matter how much money you have.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on December 7, 2012 at 9:02 AM · Report this
r.chops 12
Luxembourg is the Delaware of Europe.
Just about every European company has an office there.

Posted by r.chops on December 7, 2012 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 13
@8 I believe the UK or England limits campaign spending. It's a low amount, partially government-provided via citizen donations, and election campaigns are mercifully short.

My friends that study the dismal art of economics tell me that this is a pretty difficult problem to solve. Closing loopholes just drives more business away. I am not sure I believe them.

Note the headlines from London recently: Starbucks, caught dodging more than ten mil in taxes has promised to pay it back. Not all, just a token amount, but still.

What made them do it? Public boycots, a press willing to actually report, and politicians willing to show some backbone.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on December 7, 2012 at 9:17 AM · Report this
I'm too lazy to dig up a link for you but I think the European Commission, under pressure from the UK and -- Germany? -- has ordered Luxembourg to end the loopholes Amazon is taking advantage of. European countries are tired of getting screwed out of tax revenue and of having their own online vendors operating at a significant fiscal disadvantage.

And sorry, but I'm putting the broken record back on the phonograph again:

Is that one of those "loopholes" that conservative politicians are always vowing to fix?

No, Paul, it's more like one of those loopholes that Puget Sound's "socially progressive" Democratic state legislators actively worked to defend, accommodate, and retroactively validate:

Between 1997 - 2011, [Microsoft] used its Nevada office to avoid $1.51 billion in Washington state taxes, interest and penalties. If you include impacts from the company's lobbying and calculate its savings at the original 1.5% rate, it's saved $4.37 billion.

Since 2008, Washington State has cut $4 billion from K-12 and Higher Education. We rank 31st in K-12 spending. 18% of University of Washington freshman are now foreigners (because they pay more) up from 2% six years ago. We rank 47th nationally in 18-24 yo college enrollment and 48th in K-12 class size.

---- Dummies Guide to Microsoft's Nevada Tax …

But fuck education. Fuck social services. Fuck fair taxation. The State's billionaires and their puppets in the legislature are letting us have gay marriage and pot, and Microsoft does philanthropy, so all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, right?
Posted by PCM on December 7, 2012 at 10:11 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 15
Time to kill the Tunnel.

They obviously have enough money to pay for it themselves.
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 7, 2012 at 12:08 PM · Report this
pfffter 16
@3 just because they weren't able to buy this election doesn't mean it will always be so. I believe we were pretty lucky on that front this time around.
Posted by pfffter on December 7, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Microsoft used to have a small currency group in Finance that did nothing but shift cash around to optimize returns from rate changes (I think that's what they did, at least). There was a window where you could watch the traders do their work, and watch money magically come into being. It was just like in the movies about Wall Street trading companies.

When large companies have so much cash, they begin to act like banks.
Posted by Sterno on December 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this

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