Amazon’s Golden Fleecing

We rarely agree with socialist Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she’s right to call billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Amazon “extremely concerning.” These handouts to one of the richest companies in the history of the world, with an essentially zero cost of capital, is crony capitalism at its worst.

.. New York is even more generous, with starting subsidies of $1.525 billion. As Amazon put it on its website, this works out to $48,000 per job. Apparently bodega owners in Brooklyn are supposed to be happy about subsidizing a third of the salaries of hipster techies.

.. New York City is kicking in its own subsidies, though its biggest concession was to waive local control over city land—a privilege other businesses don’t get.

.. Congress created opportunity zones to reinvigorate neighborhoods that have a hard time attracting private investment. But the danger is that Uncle Sam might subsidize investments that would have been made anyway. Long Island City is a classic example as it’s already been undergoing an investment boom.

.. The worst actors here are the politicians who pose as job creators but are essentially job buyers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo once famously said he’d change his name to Amazon Cuomo if the company located in New York, but he didn’t need to pay such a Queens ransom. Google and other companies have created thousands of jobs in New York without similar subsidies, and Amazon might well have done the same given the city’s intellectual capital.

.. The Governor also says he had to offer subsidies to compete against states that don’t have an income tax, though that admission underscores the state’s lack of tax competitiveness. Mr. Cuomo taxes New Yorkers at confiscatory levels, giving himself more money to spend. Then he turns around and takes credit for sparing powerful interests from those taxes.