Clueless Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t understand Dem corporatist strategy, attacks Amazon HQ deal

It is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s glory and burden that she actually believes all the slogans that progressives mouth. She hasn’t yet realized that the Democratic Party coalition has a senior partner, of the ultra-wealthy corporate elite that provides campaign funding and institutional support, and a junior partner, the poor and minorities, the electoral cannon fodder who provide votes and (lately) mobs, and get freebies from the government in return. The junior partners get noisy public support (aka, “lip service”) from the Dem politicians, but the senior partners get the goodies – the regulations, subsidies, and tax breaks – mostly in private.

Like broken clock that is correct twice a day, Ocasio-Cortez has taken a stand against all the corporate welfare being lavished on Amazon to induce it to locate one-half of its much-hyped HQ2 – about 4 million square feet of office space to house 25,000 newly hired workers – in Long Island City, Queens, just across the East River from Manhattan.  The New York Post:

“We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this. The community’s response? Outrage,” Ocasio-Cortez, who officially takes office in January, tweeted.

The 29-year-old went on to say: “Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s gifts do not include facility with numbers. Calling Amazon a “billion dollar company” understates its market value a thousand-fold, raising the question of her ability to grasp the federal budget on which she will be voting next year. It is unclear if she grasps that the difference between a billion and a trillion is more than one letter.

She correctly suspects that Amazon will not be hiring a lot of low-skilled people for its office jobs, other than as janitors.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that when it comes to bringing an influx of jobs to the community, “we need to dig deep.”

“Has the company promised to hire in the existing community?” she questioned. “What’s the quality of jobs + how many are promised? Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?”

She also has at least a rudimentary understanding that increased demand for housing by the newly-employed Amazon workers (Amazon claims they will earn an average of $150,000 a year) will push rents higher for her constutuents.

In another tweet, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “Displacement is not community development. Investing in luxury condos is not the same thing as investing in people and families. Shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.”

Ocasio-Cortez added: “We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent. Corporations that offer none of those things should be met w/ skepticism.”

She continued: “Lastly, this isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc. It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests – & they‘ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.”

While I encourage her to continue to speak out and investigate this deal, she will get nowhere. The deal already has been struck between the Democrats’ leadership and the tech oligarchs.  Bezos is signaling that the federal government is integral to his continuing takeover of information technology, retailing, distribution, and data mining. The Washington Post, Bezos’s personal property, is integral to the propaganda campaigns of the Democrats as the local paper of the political and bureaucratic elites.  Flattering or critical articles in the Post are a surprisingly effective inducement for actions desired by the Post’s owner.  Bezos selected Crystal City, just across the Potomac from DC, for the second half of his HQ2 in order to be able to swing a lot of wright on the local economy, and have a lot of employees on the voter rolls.   Bezos also purchased the biggest mansion in DC, signaling his corporatist orientation – overseeing the federal government as his partner.

Bezos demonstrated his prowess at bending government powers to his own benefit with his skillful playing off of local governments with each other in a rush to offer incentives for HQ2. Not only did he receive a variety of tax-relief measures in the huindreds of  millions of dollar each, he quietly reaped a treasure trove of data – for free. Daniel Kishi explains in The American Conservative:

“The big prize Amazon has gotten out of its HQ2 stunt,” tweeted Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, “is not the PR value of a bunch of city leaders singing its praises, or even the billions of dollars in subsidies that it will extort from public coffers. It’s the data.”

Indeed, under the guise of a multi-billion dollar development contest, Amazon successfully convinced the mayors and governors of 238 North American cities and regions to voluntarily surrender a treasure trove of information ranging from future infrastructure projects to land use patterns and everything else in between—all without being charged a dime.

Armed with this detailed data, Amazon will not only have a competitive advantage over its rivals in retail and cloud computing, it will also have a serious upper hand at the negotiating table with state and local governments, as it will know precisely how much taxpayer money it will be able to extract from public funds. 

As with her demonstration outside Nancy Pelosi’s office, complete with bullhorns, Ocasio-Cortez is a wild card in the eyes of the inner circle of the ruling class. Watch for her committee assignments next year when the Dems take over the House. They may try to co-opt her with committees that she wants to be on. But, if the decision is made that she needs to be leaned on, she can expect posts on committees that have nothing to do with the needs of her urban constituents.

Image credit: Donkey Hotey

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