Bernie Sanders vs. Amazon: Is Bernie Really Looking out for the Taxpayers?

Bernie has come out swinging at Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos for allegedly underpaying its employees.

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Bernie Sanders: from taxpayer bane to taxpayer champion?

Bernie Sanders economic proposals are, to put it mildly, an anathema to libertarians. Generally you can boil down the Vermont socialist’s campaign promises to: “If me and my friends in Washington just had more money and power, we could fix socio-economic problem XYZ.” It seems that the sky is the limit to the supposedly “free” things he is prepared to offer up to the American public, all without a plan to pay for it.

So it is rare to hear Sanders discuss concern for taxpayers as a rationale for one of his proposals. Bernie’s sharp and repeated critiques of Amazon’s employee policies has drawn much public attention, as well as the ire of CEO Jeff Bezos, and the company’s public relations team.

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Sanders claims that Amazon pays its employees so little that many end up public assistance:

“Bottom line: the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos who is worth $155 billion. That is absurd,” Sanders said in the statement.

And that certainly does sound absurd and unseemly…if it is true. And that’s a big if.

I would like to see actual numbers, an actual study, on exactly how many employees at Amazon are using subsidized housing, foodstamps, or Medicaid, and what it is costing the American Treasury every year.

If Bernie Sanders can produce such figures, he has a reasonable point. Otherwise, it’s not productive to a national debate.

What Bernie and his socialist pals will never seem to understand is that markets, and only markets, should determine wages. A worker is entitled to earn what the labor market can justify paying him. No more, no less. To pay a worker more than his productive worth has left the realm of economics, and entered the realm of charity.

And if what Bernie says is true…then that is precisely the situation we find ourselves in today: Americans working for one of the world’s largest companies, and the second largest in the United States, are allegedly relying on our generous social safety net.

As of October 2017, Amazon has 541,900 employees on its payroll, after its acquisition of Whole Foods. Sanders claims that thousands of these employees rely on and/or qualify for public assistance. Amazon claims this is misleading, and argues that Sanders is in fact referring to part-time workers who qualify for the Supplementary Nutritition Assistance Program (SNAP) because they choose to work lighter schedules. Furthermore, it claims that its pay is in line with other retailers, and its benefits are superior.

If Bernie is making this the foundation of his argument, he needs to clarify, right off the bat, to what degree he is basing his figures on part-time workers. Obviously, that makes a big difference.

Here is a selection from Bernie Sanders’ email to outraged supporters: “I want to ask you to clear your mind for a moment and count to 10,” the email read. “In those 10 seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. An entire year. Think about that.”

That is called capitalism Bernie. It is precisely what you don’t understand, and why you will never be president. The United States is the greatest economic success story in world history because we believe in capitalism, not socialism.

Bezos’ wealth is irrelevant. He earned it, and he can do what he wants with it. I would far rather have $155 billion in the hands of an entrepreneur like Jeff Bezos, than in the hands of Bernie Sanders and his socialist colleagues in DC.

However, Bernie has piqued the interest of libertarians with this claim…it would be nice if Bernie tied more of his social justice message into concern for our national debt, our budget deficits, and the country’s long-suffering taxpayers.

He’s made the claim…now Bernie should back it up, with real data and real study, not tear-jerker, sob story anecdotes.

We all know that Amazon gets major tax breaks from state and local governments. If Amazon is getting major tax breaks, even a libertarian can make a good case that they should not be relying on government social safety nets to sustain their full-time employees.

Bolshevik Bernie is hardly the champion of the American taxpayers, but he does raise an issue of concern that is worthy of detailed study.

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