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Amazon Gives to End Homelessness? That’s Rich 

Photo Source Tony Webster | CC BY 2.0

They call it Giving Tuesday, and we’ve just marked the seventh annual this week. It’s supposed to kick off a season of charitable giving, but the way some corporate robber barons use it for public relations is enough to turn your stomach.

So let’s rename it Stomach-Turning Tuesday. This year’s prime stomach-turner was Amazon, of course. The corporate megastore that would sell everything to everybody and put all competition out of business publicizes its December-long #DeliveringSmiles program that supposedly gives away toys to kids. This year, they announced they’ll give half a million dollars away in toys and throw in an additional $1 for every mile their #DeliveringSmiles trucks drive during their holiday giving tour.

Whom will Amazon give those extra dollars-on-the-mile to? The National Alliance to End Homelessness. That’s rich.

This is the same trillion dollar corporation that just extracted billions of taxpayer dollars in what amount to bribes from two cash-strapped states: Virginia and New York.  Those public billions could have gone to public housing or transit or other public services. Instead, they’ll go to Amazon—one of the world’s richest companies—to defray their costs for doing business.

What’s in store for local residents? Well, Amazon’s first home, the city of Seattle, is now the third most expensive housing market in the country. When Amazon arrived, it wasn’t even close. According to the real estate site Zillow, home prices in Seattle rose 73% in the last five years and rents another 31%.

Call me cynical, but I’d bet those Giving Tuesday dollars that Amazon’s giving to fight homelessness will come as cold comfort to those in Long Island City and Crystal City who are about to be made homeless.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving. But this isn’t charity, it’s feudalism. Aristocratic Amazon is tossing crumbs to peasants. And don’t forget—for all those so-called charitable gifts, the company gets to claim a tax break. That picks yet more money out of public pockets and puts it back in the corporation’s. If only it happened just one day a year instead of every Robber Baron week.

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

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