Dividing Amazon into 613,300 pieces
Concentrated wealth/power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many undermines any legitimate claim to democracy (ie a government of the people, by the people, for the people). And the problem of billionaires buying government access/influence has become a major political issue ever since Bernie Standers made it the centerpiece of his 2016 presidential bid.
In recent days, progressive presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has been pounding the table on the possibility of splitting (diluting the wealth/power) of big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. But exactly how that break should occur remains a matter of conjecture.
a simple solution
In that light, I offer a simple solution to the complex problem of monopolistic monstrosities that concentrate more and more wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. Instead of breaking them up into smaller, less monopolistic parts, why not encourage Amazon (which paid $0 in federal taxes* in 2018) with its 613,300 employees to become employee owned?
After all, there are currently over 10,000 employee-owned businesses in the US today. And, generally speaking, they are exceptionally efficient, productive, and resilient in tough times because their financial incentives are situated in such a way that it literally pays off for everyone to work together at the same time, in the same direction, toward the same goal.
Also, when an employee-owned business wins, EVERYONE WINS, not just the lucky few at the top. And when an employee-owned business loses, EVERYONE LOSES, not just the unlucky ones at the bottom. In the process, conventional, antagonistic, and self-defeating issues between labor and management are systematically eliminated.
So how do employees pay for their shares?
You may be wondering how Amazon employees, many of whom have little or no savings or home equity, could ever afford stock in the company they work for. The answer is that by using a strategy known as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), employees can guarantee their purchase of shares using the companies’ future earnings (in investment circles this is known as a leveraged buyout/ LBO) instead of digging into savings or putting a second mortgage on the family home.
Also, in an ESOP, stock purchases are made with PRE-TAX DOLLARS, dramatically speeding up the buying process as well as the path to ownership. And with employees keeping their wages or salary while generating a second income (or retirement) through their new share ownership, the tax base for all levels of government is expanded. That is, more people will be able to pay taxes.
Finally, employee ownership stabilizes the community. Just ask the owners of the Green Bay Packers, the only community-owned NFL team that will never leave Green Bay, WI.
Who would object?
So who would object to this simple solution? Surely not the Republicans (including Ronald Reagan), all of whom favor grassroots, free market, privately owned solutions over government-dominated publicly owned solutions to any problem. And surely not the Democrats (including Bernie Sanders), all of whom favor the democratization of the workplace and the distribution (decentralization) of wealth in the hands of many. And surely not the independents, all of whom are sick and tired of partisan bickering between two parties that seem to disagree on nothing.
Even Amazon owner Jeff Bezos would almost have to agree. I mean he already has more money than he can count. And why would he want to go to the grave of him known as a greedy flint-monopolist of the 21st century who helped demolish American democracy?
And once Amazon is on board, we should have similar conversations with Facebook (36,000 employees), Microsoft (135,000 employees), Google (99,000 employees), Apple (132,000 employees), Wal-Mart (2.1 million employees) and McDonalds (1.9 million employees). employees), Goldman Sachs (36,600 employees), Citi Bank (204,000 employees), Wells Fargo (258,700 employees) just to name a few.
*PS It’s interesting to note that even though Amazon’s profit was over a billion dollars last year, they paid exactly $0.00 in federal taxes. And because of Trump’s tax cut for billionaires and corporations, Amazon has or expects to receive a REBATE of $789,000,000!