Amazon.com delivers so regularly to me that the UPS man has been known to stop by my office out of habit, even when I have no packages. Amazon is an amazingly innovative company and disruptor of modern commerce. And I absolutely abhor the idea of Georgia’s Republicans trying to attract Amazon to build their second headquarters in Georgia.
It is not a coincidence that every news analysis of Amazon coming to Georgia features statements about religious liberty. The news reporters are getting this from Chamber of Commerce types and Republican leaders. Proving Georgia’s Republicans care more about money than their voters, they are willing to scuttle any attempt at passing religious liberty legislation just for the privilege of paying Amazon your tax dollars to relocate here. But it is not just religious liberty legislation. Our Republican leaders also want to prohibit faith based adoption agencies from helping the state place children into loving homes — all for Amazon.
Then there are the tax incentives Georgia wants to give. What essentially happens is that Georgia offers massive companies your money in exchange for them relocating to the state. Sometimes they waive the company’s obligation to pay taxes. But in most every case, the political leaders justify it claiming the company will create jobs that offset the loss of tax revenue. However, numerous studies show this is not always the case. Some states go so far as to create a negative tax rate, whereby the state annually pays the company more than the company would pay in taxes.
What Amazon is looking for is enough space to fill the equivalent of six Bank of America Plaza’s. That is the tallest skyscraper in Atlanta and the Southeast. It will bring in thousands of people and note the word “bring.” Amazon will be importing people, not just hiring locally. The traffic congestion in Atlanta will go from terrible to “Sherman burned it all down again.”
One need only look to Seattle to see some of the problems Amazon will bring. Because it wants to be in a concentrated urban location, the property values in the area will soar. Almost every area put forward by Georgia’s political leaders have tended to be poorer areas where the local population will be forced out by rising property taxes and rents. Once Amazon comes in, the workforce it brings will more likely than not move into areas of Atlanta that are reintegrating after years of white flight and middle class flight. They will turn those areas from integrated, diverse neighborhoods into all white enclaves that drive up the property values around them. No doubt, as in Seattle, many of our favorite local shops and restaurants will close.
Georgia’s leaders have spent a lot of time trying to attract Fortune 500 companies to Georgia and there is no bigger company to attract than Amazon. But they do so at the expense of local businesses that Georgia’s Democrat and Republican leaders routinely ignore. Instead of creating a business friendly environment that naturally attracts businesses, Georgia has a less than friendly business atmosphere that depends on a good old boys network, tax advisors, and economic development authorities waiving local taxes and regulations for just the right business.
Most hilariously for the Georgia Republicans, they continue to throw tax dollars to attract businesses whose corporate leaders and employees would not pee on a Republican if he were on fire. Georgia will find itself a Democrat stronghold not because of a Democratic Party breakthrough, but because Georgia’s Republicans bribed a bunch of Democrats to move here.