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Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Old 09-05-18, 01:38 PM
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Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Bernie Sanders introduces ‘Stop BEZOS Act’ in the Senate
https://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...=.e7c679ac2a60

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday introduced a Senate bill — the "Stop BEZOS Act" — that would require large employers such as Amazon.com and Walmart to pay the government for food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their workers.

The bill's name is a dig at Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos and stands for “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act.” It would establish a 100 percent tax on government benefits received by workers at companies with at least 500 employees, the former presidential candidate said on Wednesday.

"In other words, the taxpayers of this country would no longer be subsidizing the wealthiest people in this country who are paying their workers inadequate wages," Sanders said at a news conference announcing the bill. "Despite low unemployment, we end up having tens of millions of Americans working at wages that are just so low that they can't adequately take care of their families."

The proposed legislation comes one day after Amazon reached $1 trillion in market cap, a milestone that cements its position as one of the world's wealthiest companies. The only publicly-traded U.S. company valued higher is Apple, with a market cap of $1.1 trillion. (Bezos, who founded Amazon, is the world's wealthiest man and owns The Washington Post.)

"Amazon is worth $1 TRILLION," Sanders tweeted Tuesday. "Thousands of Amazon workers have to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive. That is what a rigged economy looks like."

Amazon has fired back against Sanders and his claims that thousands of Amazon employees rely on federal benefits to make ends meet. Those figures are “inaccurate and misleading,” the company said last week, because they include temporary workers as well as those who choose to work part time.

The value of Amazon's stock has more than doubled in the past year, causing Bezos's net worth to skyrocket 69 percent to $168 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The median Amazon worker, meanwhile, was paid $28,446 last year, according to company filings.

The bill follows similar legislation introduced in Congress last summer by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). The Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act currently has nine co-sponsors, including Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Jamie B. Raskin of Maryland and Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District.

"All this legislation is saying, is: Taxpayers shouldn't be responsible for paying the expenses of workers employed by multibillion-dollar companies," Khanna said. "The basic premise of the American Dream is that if you work hard and you work for a company that's doing well, you should earn enough to support your family. Instead, we have an absurd situation where companies with a trillion dollars in market cap — the wealthiest in the world — with employees who don't make enough to support the basic needs of themselves and their families."

A spokesman for Sanders said the senator's office has heard from hundreds of current and former Amazon workers in recent weeks who had to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and other government programs to cover their families' basic needs. There is no official measure of a "living wage," but the federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,600.
Hell, even Tucker Carlson thinks Bezos/Amazon should pay more taxes so you, the people(tm), don't have to foot the bill.

I love capitalism, because I like stuff. I like to buy stuff, and I like to get it as cheap as I can, and I like to be able to choose between ten different kinds of the same type of widget. However... a legitimate argument can be made that Amazon is proof positive that the system is broken when the employees of a $1T company need to rely on government services (edit: government services designed for those in poverty) to survive, all while the CEO is spending all of his hard-earned money on, not livable wages for his staff but... space travel. Maybe, just maybe... capitalism can do better than this while still maintaining the parts that aren't super broken.

One thing I read about recently was that people don't really realize the scale of what one trillion dollars represents. Like, we know it's a lot, and we know a trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, and a million is more than most of us will ever see. So compare it to seconds.
60 seconds is a minute.
1000 seconds is 2 hours and 46.6 minutes.
1 million seconds is 277.8 hours.
1 billion seconds is 31.7 years.
1 trillion seconds is 31,709 years.

Maybe it's obvious to others, but maybe putting it that way will give it some perspective. How many seconds are too many? or if not seconds, then grains of rice? or shirts? or 4K UHD HDR discs?

I don't know if Sanders' act is the right solution... maybe it just isn't. But it could be a step in the right general direction where there's a bit more accountability by the hundred-billion-dollars-and-up employers for the livelihood of their own workers (for as long as human workers are still needed, anyway... but futurism is maybe best left to another discussion... for now)

Last edited by Dan; 09-05-18 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 09-05-18, 01:49 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by Dan View Post
I don't know if Sanders' act is the right solution... maybe it just isn't. But it could be a step in the right general direction where there's a bit more accountability by the hundred-billion-dollars-and-up employers for the livelihood of their own workers (for as long as human workers are still needed, anyway... but futurism is maybe best left to another discussion... for now)
I'd be for something like this, but I have a feeling it would be nearly impossible to administer. The number of federal agencies that would need to provide information would be vast and the technological infrastructure just doesn't exist to support it. The IRS has a hard enough problem administering the tax code as is.
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Old 09-05-18, 01:58 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

I know a lot of people who work full-time for Amazon corporate, and to my knowledge they aren't applying for food stamps. Stress, overwork, and no free time for life and family are legit concerns, though.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:06 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I know a lot of people who work full-time for Amazon corporate, and to my knowledge they aren't applying for food stamps. Stress, overwork, and no free time for life and family are legit concerns, though.
Yup. I'm in no hurry to work for Amazon, and it has nothing to do with wages.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:06 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I know a lot of people who work full-time for Amazon corporate, and to my knowledge they aren't applying for food stamps. Stress, overwork, and no free time for life and family are legit concerns, though.
Satire?
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Old 09-05-18, 02:13 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I know a lot of people who work full-time for Amazon corporate, and to my knowledge they aren't applying for food stamps. Stress, overwork, and no free time for life and family are legit concerns, though.
I also know a lot of amazon people. None are on food stamps. However, since Seattle was the starting location for the company conditions here could be far better than some of the newer locations.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:23 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I know a lot of people who work full-time for Amazon corporate, and to my knowledge they aren't applying for food stamps. Stress, overwork, and no free time for life and family are legit concerns, though.
This isn’t about people in corporate, obviously. At least I thought obviously, but here we are.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:26 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
This isn’t about people in corporate, obviously. At least I thought obviously, but here we are.
Exactly. Which is why I asked davidh777... satire?
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Old 09-05-18, 02:35 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by Baron Of Hell View Post
I also know a lot of amazon people. None are on food stamps. However, since Seattle was the starting location for the company conditions here could be far better than some of the newer locations.
My comment wasn't just about corporate. Even those at the warehouses seem to be paid well. But maybe it's different in other states.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:38 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

I'm just tired of Bernie Sanders and his rigged-economy bullshit.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:46 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

The article didn't specify which kind of workers, and the city of Seattle just passed (then rejected) legislation to make larger employers pay into projects to reduce homelessness. Obviously Seattle was targeting the large number of Amazon corporate employees so maybe I conflated that with Bernie's issue. I don't know where he came up with "thousands" of workers, but it certainly seems possible that temps and part-timers could reach that number, and if that's the case, there could be many reasons why people need assistance. Also, it's possible that the wages for that work in those areas could be competitive. At any rate, I wasn't trying for satire.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:47 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
My comment wasn't just about corporate. Even those at the warehouses seem to be paid well. But maybe it's different in other states.
Average Amazon warehouse pay is $13.50/hour plus about $1300/year in bonuses. The jobs start at at least $10. Someone will have to explain to me how one of these jobs is harder than a typical fast food job, which averages $9.07/hour. Having spent much of my youth working in fast food, I would have gladly traded for a warehouse job even at the same pay.

Sure, it would be nice if all of them made at least $15, and I would personally be more than willing to pay the slightly higher prices it would take to make that happen, but it does seem like Amazon is being unfairly singled out here.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:55 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Average Amazon warehouse pay is $13.50/hour plus about $1300/year in bonuses. The jobs start at at least $10. Someone will have to explain to me how one of these jobs is harder than a typical fast food job, which averages $9.07/hour. Having spent much of my youth working in fast food, I would have gladly traded for a warehouse job even at the same pay.

Sure, it would be nice if all of them made at least $15, and I would personally be more than willing to pay the slightly higher prices it would take to make that happen, but it does seem like Amazon is being unfairly singled out here.
The key issue with the claim is that it includes "temp" workers that more than likely don't work for Amazon and part time folks that shouldn't be compared to those with full time or salaried positions.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:58 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
My comment wasn't just about corporate. Even those at the warehouses seem to be paid well. But maybe it's different in other states.
Me too, I know people that worked in the warehouse, mail room, customer service, engineers, payroll, returns, data processors, accounting, and so on. I think I probably know at least one person that works or worked every type of job offered there. Working a lot and over time seems to be issue but most of the people like their jobs. No one is peeing in cups or on food stamps that I know of.

I think their biggest problem is the same as many businesses these days. That is sending jobs to other countries and bringing in people from other countries to jobs in the US.

On the plus side they probably created more jobs than they shipped out. I know I got my UPS job because of the increase in shipments caused by people buying from amazon. I'm pretty sure the same was true for the other shipping companies.
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Old 09-05-18, 03:01 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

I finished working night shift at Amazon making $14.50 an hour, plus bonus pay for exceeding production standards, stock options, and my health benefits were insanely good. As you all know though my health and overall quality of life has suffered from my time working there.
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Old 09-05-18, 03:09 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
The key issue with the claim is that it includes "temp" workers that more than likely don't work for Amazon and part time folks that shouldn't be compared to those with full time or salaried positions.
Can't speak for the temp thing, but restaurants are full of part time workers, many of whom would love to get more hours if they could and some who work multiple restaurant jobs just to get their 40+ per week.

That said, I don't think it is unreasonable for Amazon to use middle men to hire temp workers with few/no benefits for seasonal work either, at least when compared to how things work in other industries. Of course the year-round full-time warehouse worker gets paid a bit more and has more benefits than the worker who is only working part time for six weeks during the holidays. This should shock no one.

Again, not saying this is wonderful in any way. Just saying that Amazon is being targeted a little unfairly here. These are unskilled, seasonal jobs we are talking about here. Obviously, if some of the agencies that hire these jobs treat the temps like shit, Amazon should take care of this, but my outrage kind of stops right about there.
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Old 09-05-18, 03:24 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Again, not saying this is wonderful in any way. Just saying that Amazon is being targeted a little unfairly here. These are unskilled, seasonal jobs we are talking about here. Obviously, if some of the agencies that hire these jobs treat the temps like shit, Amazon should take care of this, but my outrage kind of stops right about there.
Yes, I have plenty of issues with Amazon, but this isn't one of them.
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Old 09-05-18, 03:50 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

I think Sanders has made a mistake to name this thing an acronym for an actual person. It shifts the discussion from an actual thing (low wages) to people just discussing Amazon. It also looks like he’s got a beef with just one guy. Like government ganging up on one CEO. That’s kind of lame.
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Old 09-05-18, 04:17 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Someone will have to explain to me how one of these jobs is harder than a typical fast food job, which averages $9.07/hour.
The undercover author who discovered Amazon warehouse workers were peeing in bottles tells us the culture was like a 'prison'

DRIVERS working for online retailer Amazon urinate and even defecate in their vehicles to meet crushing deadlines

Amazon workers reveal brutal conditions in pre-Christmas rush

“One colleague was taken to the hospital by ambulance when they collapsed on the job, after struggling on despite feeling unwell,” Selby said.

“Another ambulance was called after a girl suffered a panic attack when she was told compulsory overtime would mean her working up to 55 hours a week over Christmas.”

One worker told Selby: “Everybody suffers here. I pulled my hamstring but I just had to carry on. My friend spent two days off after she damaged her knee ligaments.”
Inside Amazon's Warehouse:

He got light-headed, he said, and his legs cramped, symptoms he never experienced in previous warehouse jobs. One hot day, Goris said, he saw a co-worker pass out at the water fountain. On other hot days, he saw paramedics bring people out of the warehouse in wheelchairs and on stretchers.

“I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one,” Goris said. “They can do that because there aren’t any jobs in the area.”
An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an "unsafe environment" after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor's report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.
"We got emails about the heat, and the heat index got to really outrageous numbers," he said, recalling that the index during one of his shifts hit 114 degrees on the ground floor in the receiving area.
Guardian investigation reveals numerous cases of Amazon workers being treated in ways that leave them homeless, unable to work or bereft of income after workplace accidents

I'm not sure what fast food restaurant you worked at, but does this sort of thing sound typical?
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Old 09-05-18, 04:19 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

True temps usually are through a temp agency. To hire someone even temporarily requires certain privileges, privileges not required through an agency. So the agency is the true employer. The part time argument goes back to our discussion in the minimum wage thread. Many part time workers are accused of not wanting to work more since it will decrease their benefits and essentially will be working for free for some of those hours.
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Old 09-05-18, 04:32 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Trump would be happy to sign legislation that targeted Bezos. Politics makes strange bedfellows.
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Old 09-05-18, 05:34 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Average Amazon warehouse pay is $13.50/hour plus about $1300/year in bonuses. The jobs start at at least $10. Someone will have to explain to me how one of these jobs is harder than a typical fast food job, which averages $9.07/hour. Having spent much of my youth working in fast food, I would have gladly traded for a warehouse job even at the same pay.

Sure, it would be nice if all of them made at least $15, and I would personally be more than willing to pay the slightly higher prices it would take to make that happen, but it does seem like Amazon is being unfairly singled out here.
Adam Tyner posted some thorough stories too, but I thought I would post this - Radiolab's podcast about this covered it pretty well. 19 minutes, youtube link below, or look for it on your podcast app for your drive (episode titled "Brown Box").


Sounds pretty grueling to me, and I worked fast food briefly (Arby's) as well as working as a busboy and years as a grocery bagger and later a cashier.
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Old 09-05-18, 05:53 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

As I said I have my Amazon stories, and you all know what it did to me.
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Old 09-05-18, 07:31 PM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

My years working fast food were actually pretty fun. Maybe it’s different now, but as a teen in the 80s McDonalds wasn’t a bad gig. Sure, the few minutes here and there where you drew the short straw and had to clean the toilets or close at night we’re hard work, but the bulk of each day was just easy work and goofing off with fellow teens. My store’s employees hung out a lot after work.
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Old 09-06-18, 12:03 AM
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Re: Bernie Sanders -"Stop BEZOS Act"

There are different ways that businesses could respond to this.

1) They could raise workers' pay. I guess this is Sander's main intent.

2) They could pay the tax.

3) They could fire their part time workers, because it's largely part time workers that would be subject to this policy. I suspect this would fall under the category of "unintended consequences."

4) They could respond in some other way that I haven't thought of.

By calling this the Bezos Act, I wonder if it violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against bills of attainder.
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