Amazon is suggesting major changes to US laws. That could be great for many Americans and the country, or it could be mostly talk.
Amazon has been loud Assistant A federal minimum wage of $15 per hour. The company has (briefly) mentioned a blog post In April that he was in favor of raising the federal tax rate for corporations. heroine wrote This week that it would “actively support” a proposed federal bill to legalize marijuana. Last year, the company said That she wanted Congress to write rules for the ethical use of facial recognition technology, including Amazon’s recognition.
Some of these policies can make a real difference in people’s lives. My concern is that Amazon wants credit with the public and policymakers to support these laws, but it will not take the concrete and sustained action needed to have real effect – except when it directly helps Amazon.
We know that companies lobby hard for or against laws that are good for their bottom lines. But when companies say they support policies they believe can help everyone, do they put as much money and power into those efforts? (And should they?)
Emily Stewart, Writing for Vox’s Recode, recently asked the same questions of all businesses, including technology giants. But perhaps we should hold tech superstars even higher because of their power over our lives and their influence on policy makers and public perception.
The pressure of corporations to push for a Congress that is often gridlocked or slow to pass laws can’t hurt. Labor unions pushing for $15 minimum wage for the year. It’s possible that Amazon’s advocacy could be even more effective in garnering public support and changing the law. About Facebook’s tireless promotions Its Support for Revised US Internet Regulations.
These companies deserve credit for raising the big issues, but what matters is that they follow through to the end. As Stewart wrote, “the vague gestures of corporations and officials are a way to smooth out real political and social issues and disregard deserved scrutiny.”
An episode from Amazon’s past also invites skepticism of its motivations in the policy battle. Over the years, the company loudly announced support a national sales tax in the United States of America. Amazon knew that a national sales tax was a non-starter at most in Congress. But Amazon’s position helped in the fight against state laws to collect sales tax on online purchases.
There was never a national sales tax. Amazon began negotiating with states to implement a sales tax about a decade ago. Until then, the company had benefited from years of price gains compared to traditional retailers.
This bit of history shows that what Amazon said was a principled policy position, much less a strategy maneuver.
Here are some questions US taxpayers can ask tech companies calling for policy change: How is the company pushing for this law? What specific policy suggestions does it have? How much money will the company spend on lobbying for it? Will the company commit to its policy support and status report on results?
Amazon lobbying Disclosures Without many specifics, point out that minimum wage issues are among the topics the company has pressed with members of Congress. Amazon spokesperson Jodi Seth also pointed me to the company’s ads and opinion Fragments About raising the minimum wage, and said it’s one of the few issues that everyone on Amazon’s policy team is involved in.
I’ll add one more question to my list: Why? No, the real answer. radical candor The proposed policy changes could help win the confidence of lawmakers and the public about companies’ intentions.
For Amazon, why not be clear that raising the minimum wage could be good for many US workers and For Amazon Business? The company may need to pay more Attract enough high quality workers And keep them happy, and its competitors may not be able to afford the higher wages.
Facebook and some other tech companies falling behind a national digital privacy protection law in the United States usually don’t say out loud that they Want more liberal rules from Congress to usurp tougher laws passed by some states.
I am creating a spreadsheet listing select policy positions taken by large tech companies. I promise to report here from time to time about what the companies have done. (and please e mail me Along with suggestions for policies offered by tech companies you might want to track. Put “Policies” in the subject line.)
Before we leave …
Facebook fights itself: Some employees are challenging Facebook As reported by my colleagues Shira Frenkel and Mike Isaacs, bosses for their actions believed that they helped the Indian government quell online discontent and helped remove some pro-Palestinian posts. It’s the latest example of a split between some Facebook employees who want the company to stand up to overbearing governments and a policy team that handles difficult international relations.
Building Silicon Valley from scratch is hard: The rest of the world sees what went wrong with Kenya’s attempt to build a city that was Envisioned as a high-tech utopia for residents and a hub for tech companies. “Smart cities are not a cure for socioeconomic problems, but a way to distract citizens from larger, structural ones,” the article said.
Meet the new king of Tiktok: Khabane Lam, a 21-year-old former factory worker in Italy, has become the fastest growing video creator on TikTok. My Colleagues Jason Horowitz and Taylor Lorenz explain the appeal His clever and relatable reaction videos. (for example, Here she is intimidated by Sour Patch Kid’s Pizza.)
Birds are great. Here’s a cocktail (I guess?) dance and sing with piano.
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