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The City That Refused to Play Amazon’s Game

The richest man in the world, who heads one of the world’s largest and richest corporations, is also filthy rich in arrogance and pomposity.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon demanded that a city’s officials kowtow to him by handing billions of taxpayer dollars to his retail behemoth, essentially bribing him to locate an Amazon headquarters there. But — lo and behold — the city mustered its collective integrity and pride to say “no” to his devil’s bargain.

The city I’m bragging on isn’t New York City, which recently made national news by rejecting Amazon’s attempt to fleece its taxpayers. Rather, I’m saluting San Antonio, Texas, which in 2017 simply refused to play Bezos’ con game when he first rolled it out.

While 238 cities and states groveled in front of the diminutive potentate, San Antonio’s mayor and top county official sent a “Dear Jeff” letter kissing him off. They said their city has much to offer, but any development deal “has to be the right fit; not just for the company, but for the entire community,” adding that “blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style.”

The officials wrote that a key criterion for awarding any incentives was whether a company is “a good corporate citizen.” Noting that Amazon almost certainly had already chosen its preferred location, they called the national “search” a money-grubbing scam. “This public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war amongst states and cities,” they charged.

Why should public officials anywhere be throwing billions of scarce public dollars at a pompous corporate prince who neither needs nor deserves such tribute?

City and state officials everywhere need to follow the example of New York and San Antonio, agreeing to stop bidding against each other in the corporate bribe racket.

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