Amazon Wants a Lot of New Laws
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Amazon is on a roll suggesting large adjustments to U.S. legal guidelines. This could possibly be nice for a lot of People and for the nation, or this could possibly be largely speak.
Amazon has been loudly supporting a federal minimal wage of $15 an hour. The corporate talked about (briefly) in a weblog submit in April that it was in favor of growing the federal tax fee for firms. Amazon wrote this week that it could be “actively supporting” a proposed federal invoice to legalize marijuana. Final 12 months, the corporate mentioned that it wished Congress to put in writing guidelines for the moral use of facial recognition know-how, together with Amazon’s Rekognition.
Some of these insurance policies may make a actual distinction in folks’s lives. My concern is that Amazon might want credit score with the general public and the policymakers for supporting these legal guidelines, however that it gained’t put within the concerted and sustained work required to have a actual impression — besides when it straight helps Amazon.
We all know that firms foyer arduous for or towards legal guidelines which might be good for his or her backside traces. However when firms say that they assist insurance policies they imagine will help everybody, do they dedicate the identical cash and muscle to these efforts? (And will they?)
Emily Stewart, writing for Vox’s Recode, just lately requested comparable questions of all companies, together with the know-how giants. However maybe we should always maintain the tech superstars to a fair larger commonplace as a result of of their energy over our lives and their affect on policymakers and public notion.
Strain from firms can’t damage to nudge a Congress that’s typically gridlocked or sluggish to cross legal guidelines. Labor organizations have been urgent for a $15 minimal wage for years. It’s attainable that Amazon’s advocacy, and its choice in 2018 to set a $15 wage flooring for its personal staff in america, is likely to be much more efficient at rallying public assist and altering the legislation. Ditto for Fb’s relentless promotions about its assist for revised U.S. web rules.
These firms deserve credit score for taking over large points, however what issues is that they observe by way of to the tip. As Stewart wrote, “Obscure gestures from firms and executives are a solution to clean over actual political and social points, and to deflect deserved scrutiny.”
An episode from Amazon’s previous additionally invitations skepticism of its motivations in coverage battles. For years, the corporate loudly proclaimed assist for a nationwide gross sales tax in america. Amazon knew that a nationwide gross sales tax was almost definitely a non-starter in Congress. However Amazon’s place helped in its struggle towards state legal guidelines to gather gross sales taxes on on-line purchases.
A nationwide gross sales tax by no means occurred. Amazon about a decade in the past started to succeed in compromises with states to use gross sales taxes. By then, the corporate had benefited from years of worth benefits over standard retailers.
This bit of historical past exhibits that what Amazon mentioned was a principled coverage place was fairly doubtless little greater than a technique maneuver.
Listed below are some questions that American taxpayers can pose to tech firms who’re talking up for coverage adjustments: How is the corporate pushing for this legislation? What particular coverage strategies does it have? How a lot cash will the corporate spend on lobbying for it? Will the corporate decide to standing experiences on its coverage advocacy and the outcomes?
Amazon’s lobbying disclosures do point out, with out many specifics, that minimal wage points are among the many matters that the corporate has pressed with members of Congress. Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Amazon, additionally pointed me to the corporate’s commercials and opinion items about growing the minimal wage, and mentioned it’s one of the few points that entails everybody on Amazon’s coverage crew.
I’ll add yet one more query to my checklist: Why? No, the actual reply. Radical candor about firms’ motivations for proposed coverage adjustments would possibly assist win confidence from lawmakers and the general public.
For Amazon, why not be frank that a rise within the minimal wage is likely to be good for a lot of American staff and for Amazon’s enterprise? The corporate might have to pay extra to draw sufficient high-quality staff and preserve them completely happy, and its opponents might not be capable to afford larger wages.
Fb and another tech firms which might be getting behind a nationwide digital privateness safety legislation in america don’t usually say out loud that they need extra lenient guidelines from Congress to usurp strict legal guidelines that some states have handed.
I’m making a spreadsheet itemizing choose coverage positions taken by large tech firms. I promise to report again right here periodically with what the businesses have finished. (And please e mail me with strategies of insurance policies proposed by tech firms that you simply’d like to trace. Put “insurance policies” within the topic line.)
Earlier than we go …
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Hugs to this
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