When Amazon announced its search for a place to put its second headquarters, city and state officials started scrambling to offer the most generous terms possible. The promise of 50,000 jobs and an influx of $5.5 billion in construction costs has made the Amazon proposal an offer almost impossible to refuse.
The company has cunningly announced the search for a new home publicly. It is now waiting to see who can up the ante and pile on the most incentives. Speculation is mounting as each city asks who will be the lucky winner.
Not in My Front Yard
This is not a normal bid to put a manufacturing plant in some backyard industrial site. It is not a case of a plant that protesters might claim “not in my backyard” (NIMBY). Amazon is asking cities to showcase the headquarters and put its massive new complex in the front yard.
In a society that values money over everything, Amazon’s offer is irresistible. However, there are values greater than money. For those who hold these values, the Amazon offer is not so compelling.
Four Reason to Say No
Thus, here are four reasons why people should not want Amazon parked in their front yard.
- The first reason is an economic reason and therefore the least important. Regardless of how it is packaged, the incentives given to Amazon will be a taxpayer subsidy given over many years. There is no guarantee that this massive investment will be profitable. There is always the risk that Amazon will succumb to the next big thing in marketing and selling. Moreover, these deals tend to frontload contracts to favor the investing firm. The payoff to the cities is usually back loaded far into the future.
Don’t put Amazon in the front yard because big giants can be toppled. The taxpayer can be left holding the bill and an empty eyesore.
- The second reason to object is political and therefore a bit more relevant. The flood of cash into the economy will indeed be great. However, the influx of ideas into the political scene will also be huge.
Like all high-tech giants, Amazon will tend to bring in all that is liberal. It is no secret that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos supports every liberal cause. The headquarters will also tend to employ similarly minded office workers, technicians and technocrats. The company can be expected to be on the progressive cutting edge of every social, moral or ecological issue and make its muscle felt.
The Amazon move will introduce blue hues to the reddest political landscape and thus be divisive to the community.
- The third reason is sociological and therefore less considered. However, the fact that Amazon is willing to build the same headquarters anywhere in North America indicates it will have no organic link to any city or its culture. It represents a foreign and artificial object placed upon the local landscape.
Integration is an important part of being part of a human community. The monstrous headquarters will be a veritable city inside a city unbound by its surroundings. It will embody globalism and massification on a grand scale.
- The final reason is esthetical and therefore despised by those who worship money. If the latest additions to the Seattle headquarters are any indication, the new headquarters will be ugly.
Expect the $5.5 billion behemoth to incorporate the worst of postmodern and eco-friendly architecture. The compound will break the rules of esthetics by its lack of adornment, proportion and craftsmanship. It will be devoid of any connection to the architectural style of the host city. It will be sterile and secular, and there will be nothing symbolic to uplift the soul to God the Creator.
Cities should be beautiful because they belong to their inhabitants. They should be uplifting and reflect the tastes and unique qualities of citizens. The showcasing of the Amazon headquarters will highlight the globalized ugliness that marks all such campuses of the high-tech world.
Rule of Money Versus Rule of Honor
Such reasons to oppose the new Amazon headquarters are not convincing to those who let money rule their lives. To these, money is the supreme standard. It necessarily leads to the quest for material goods, speed and sensuality.
However, there is another rule that values what Russell Kirk called the “permanent things.” Those things include norms of courage, duty, courtesy, justice, and charity that make life worth living and point to a power beyond that of mass markets—that of a transcendent God.