Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $90 billion. He was named Fortune magazine’s “businessperson of the year” in 2012. You don’t amass such wealth, and gain such accolades, by being a wonderful human being. You do it off the backs of tens of thousands of desperate workers. You do it by taking advantage of a working-class majority that is forced to sell its labor for whatever scraps they can get in return. You do it through mass exploitation, or as Fortune magazine calls it, “penny-pinching”:
“The penny-pinching [at Amazon] applies to salaries, which are low throughout the 80,000-person-plus organization. ‘We pay very low cash compensation relative to most companies,’ says Bezos. ‘We also have no incentive compensation of any kind. And the reason we don’t is because it is detrimental to teamwork.’
This “very low cash compensation” that Bezos boasts of amounts to around $12 to $15 an hour for most employees in the United States. At full-time hours, a typical Amazon worker brings home about $30,000 a year. According to MIT’s living-wage calculator, the absolute minimum salary required for a person to live in the US is $43,000 (Kentucky). In many parts of the western and northeastern US, the living-wage salary is well over $50,000.
This means that most Amazon workers fall drastically short of being able to live on their salaries. Which means that a good portion of Amazon’s workforce (like Walmart’s) is likely receiving some form of public assistance to merely get by. Which means that not only is Bezos capitalizing off the desperation of workers, he’s doubling down on this desperation by using taxpayer-funded social services to subsidize much of his workforce.
Jeff Bezos is not “extraordinary,” “savvy,” “innovative,” “keen,” or any of the other adjectives that business-people are so often adorned with. He’s a capitalist. Which is to say, he’s a parasite.