The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat recently dug into the
bribes proposals to host Amazon's future second headquarters, HQ2, and what he found was truly shocking—or at least it should be.
Take Chicago. The city has apparently offered to give $1.32 billion in income taxes collected from Amazon workers back to Amazon. So instead of using that money for, ya know, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, etc., it'll go straight back to the company. Amazon workers would essentially be paying their bosses for the privilege of work.
Chicago isn't alone. New Jersey offered $7 billion in tax breaks; Stonecrest, Georgia, offered to rename itself 'Amazon'; and Boston's proposal includes the creation of an "Amazon Task Force," which would give city employees the task of negotiating on behalf of Amazon within the city.
But it's Fresno's proposal that takes the cake. Submitted by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, the proposal would place 85 percent of every tax dollar generated by Amazon into a so-called "Amazon Community Fund," which would be administered by a city committee along with Amazon executives. In essence, Amazon would be able to dictate were all that tax money goes, whether it be worker housing, public transportation to get Amazon employees to work, or parks and bike paths for the exercise and leisure of Amazon workers.
“Rather than the money disappearing into a civic black hole, Amazon would have a say on where it will go,” Fresno's economic development director Larry Westerlund told the LA Times. “Not for the fire department on the fringe of town, but to enhance their own investment in Fresno.” This isn't good for those who live on the fringes of town, but not to worry: The agreement would only last for the next 100 years.
As for Seattle, after prostrating themselves like a forsaken lover when Amazon announced their intention to build elsewhere, King and Snohomish counties submitted a joint bid. They aren't offering billions in tax incentives, but they don't really need to. Washington state already has among the lowest tax burdens in the country: A 2015 study found that the poorest 20 percent of Washington residents pay almost 17 percent of their income in taxes, while the richest 1 percent pay less than 3. What's not to love about that? At least, if you're the richest man in the U.S.