This must hurt. Seattle just heard something from an Amazon executive, Jeff Wilke, that it has always secretly feared: Some people do not want to live here. The city is not all that it thinks it is. It's fine for some, but not for others. This is why Amazon is opening a second HQ, claimed the executive at the Geekwire Summit on October 11. Seattle, which is often named "the most livable city in the US" in magazines found the pockets of airline seats, only attracts certain types. And Amazon has more than enough of those types. It hopes to "find another location that allows [it] to recruit a different collection of employees."
As Heidi Groover wrote in The Morning News: "It's Not You, It's Me, but Really It's Kinda You." In the same news post, there was a story about a sick dog being thrown out of a car window. Seattle feels that it knows how this sick dog feels.
A good thermometer of the state of things in Seattle can be found in the Puget Sound Business Journal. Nearly half of all the stories on its main page (18) are directly or indirectly about Amazon. One concerns how big cities thrive and small cities don't—in short, Seattle needs to be a big city, which it was becoming until Amazon made that terrible announcement. Another post wants readers to hopefully look to a future beyond Amazon's second HQ—there just might be something on the horizon. Another post pleads that our region bend over backwards to make proposals for the second HQ. And so on, and so on. What can we read from all this? Our city is not doing well. It's having a fever.
But why is Seattle feeling this way? It's because, from its perspective, what else is there but Amazon? The e-commerce corporation is rapidly destroying the conventional retail sector. Malls will soon be the dinosaurs of suburban capitalism. Fulfillment centers keep growing and absorbing more and more commodity markets. We don't make things anymore. We have been a service economy for over 40 years. If you do not have this kind of corporation concentrated in your city, a corporation that is expanding by contracting huge sections of the service economy, then your job market is pretty much fucked. A city like ours, a city that lacks political imagination, does not want to be sucked into a black hole; it wants to be the black hole. That is Amazon—the singularity of post-crash capitalism. That is the mood of our super-saturated times.