Bezos, Be Good, Restructure Amazon

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) says “If Jeff Bezos wants to be a good person, you turn Amazon into a worker cooperative.” Her statement raises many, many questions.

Bezos is the multi-billionaire who started Amazon of his own free will and invention. He didn’t start it owing to being a “bad” person or using “bad” methods or to making “bad” bargains with the many Amazon customers or employees. Bezos has no doubt done some bad things. All of us have. Does that make him not a “good person”?

Does Bezos’ wealth make him a “bad person” who can only become a “good person” by changing the ownership form of Amazon? Will God reject Bezos’ application to heaven because he became so successful, attracted so many customers and made so much money? Does he have to redeem himself by changing Amazon into a worker cooperative? Will that be a good deed that helps bring greater satisfaction to the customers of Amazon? Is Amazon in business to attract and satisfy customers or to satisfy its workers or Ocasio-Cortez? If Amazon becomes a worker cooperative, will its workers be better off as Ocasio-Cortez assumes or will the business operations suffer?

Does Ocasio-Cortez not know that Amazon has an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) as do many large companies, and stock ownership among workers is widespread in Amazon and elsewhere? Workers are not managers in such a system, but these plans apparently improve the incentive for decisions that enhance the worker welfare and create value.

Does Ocasio-Cortez realize that businesses fail as well as succeed? Does she realize that many more fail than succeed? Does she realize that many people prefer a wage to taking a chance on one specific business?

Was Bezos privileged? “Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, the son of Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and Ted Jorgensen.[7] At the time of his birth, his mother was a 17-year-old high school student, and his father was a bike shop owner.[8] After Jacklyn divorced Ted, she married Cuban immigrant Miguel ‘Mike’ Bezos in April 1968.[9] Shortly after the wedding, Mike adopted four-year-old Jorgensen, whose surname was then changed to Bezos.”

Is Bezos a bad person because he didn’t organize Amazon as a worker cooperative? Are workers bad because they chose not to organize themselves into a worker cooperative to compete with Amazon? Are workers bad because they made wage bargains with Amazon and didn’t form a cooperative? If worker cooperatives are a viable business organization form for retailing, why haven’t they formed and out-competed Amazon? Is there something wrong with working for pay? Is it “bad”? Instead of working for pay, is everyone supposed to be an owner-worker and assume the risks of ownership? Why is being an owner or not being an owner a distinguishing factor between those who are “good persons” and those who are “bad persons”?

Ocasio-Cortez echoes the Davos agenda that companies should somehow be controlled and managed by a variety of interest groups called stakeholders. Her favored group is workers. Her favored organization structure is the worker cooperative in which workers own the company and manage it. She thinks that successful ownership confers power that belongs to owners that should belong to “the people”. She says “And to be ethical, if you’re a billionaire today, the thing that you need to do is give up control and power. So I don’t want your money as much as we want your power. The people. Not me.”

If people wrest money and power from successful business owners, why is this ethical? What entitles “the people” to take away the power and money of Bezos? The creditors have been paid their due. The workers have been paid their due. The government has taken its cut in taxes. The owners (stockholders) have received their due, be they profits or losses. The customers have received their goods. Where is the ethical black mark against Amazon or Bezos? And if there is such a black mark that his power and money represent, why does it change into a virtuous mark if “the people” take (steal) his power and money?

Are “the people” entitled to punish Bezos and any other person whose wealth and power exceed some level? Will Ocasio-Cortez and her buddies set that level? Is her rule to be the communist rule? “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Yes, that is exactly what her Bezos policy comes to. Will the communists like Ocasio-Cortez be the ones who decide your needs and abilities? Will they decide who gets what, when they get it, and how much they get? What Ocasio-Cortez proposes for Bezos is only a sample. There are loads more of wealthy people whose wealth can be seized.

For Ocasio-Cortez, the “good” or the “social good” demands that people like Bezos be made to be good, and that is to be done by force. The good society, in her view and that of fellow communists, demands regimentation and control from above by a cadre of controllers. Freedom is sacrificed in this model of society for the sake of achieving the common good or the social good or a society filled with good people.

Freedom is an open-ended concept. It’s dynamic. There’s no telling what comes of it. It opens out to an infinity of possibilities that cannot be predicted. Striving never ceases. Man is a finite being who moves toward the infinity of God unceasingly and freely. Man answers the call of God freely, and that is what the myth of the Garden tells us. The answer can be for good or evil. Freedom can entail movement away from the divine or toward it. Each of us decides freely and that’s the way God wants it, we are told. Otherwise, without such a freedom, we are automatons and our creation lacks meaning and drama.

In contrast, the communist idea is closed-ended. It’s static. It hopes to achieve a perfect society and that’s the end of history. It’s a heaven-on-earth orientation. It aims to make goodness happen unfreely. However, using force to make goodness and good people is not what God asks of us in a biblical orientation. That’s the direction of evil. This is one reason why communism is a godless philosophy.


3:06 pm on January 21, 2020