I’m no defender of Amazon. Its employment practices are tantamount to those during the Industrial Revolution. Read this article from the Atlantic about its practices if you are one of the few people who wasn’t aware of how terrible they are: “Ruthless Quotas at Amazon Are Maiming Employees.”
If you’re able to avoid buying stuff from Amazon, if you have local suppliers of goods that are affordable for you and available, that aren’t simply using Amazon themselves or other equally objectionable providers, if you are able-bodied and you aren’t dealing with things like social anxiety disorder, then go ahead and boycott Amazon.
Here’s a list of alternative suppliers that include stores like Apple. See the irony?
What I’m more interested in is how we have reached the state once again where employees are selling their souls and maiming their bodies, ruining their states of mind by working for this organization, and how and why consumers are purchasing goods from Amazon and other worker rights violators? What has led to this state of affairs, and is there any way to stop it?
Has Amazon become so powerful and so all encompassing, like Google, like Apple, that there’s simply nothing to be done?
Google is known for treating its employees well, but I guess that reputation is based on its treatment of men because Google has a history of sexual harassment of women.
Apple’s iPhone and other products are assembled in China, and many of them are also made in China, as are numerous tech products at a company called Foxconn. Read about the suicides at iPhoneCity and poor labour practices here.
Are you going to boycott Google or Apple? Unlikely.
Here’s an article by Jason Del Rey about a podcast he hosts that investigates Amazon. From what I can see he blames Amazon’s rise squarely on the consumer.
I feel guilty about relying on Amazon and Google (the only Apple product I have is iTunes), and at the same time I feel it’s hypocritical of me to opt out. And it’s also overwhelming. It’s simply not as easy as one would think to opt out.
Amazon has a fulfillment service for businesses, including retailers, which often get the goods they sell to consumers from Amazon’s suppliers as well. I haven’t been able to find any evidence that local stores in Ottawa are using Amazon, but a lot of companies are around the world. Who is responsible for providing wholesale and distribution to business? And what are their policies regarding labour?
I’m not saying that one shouldn’t boycott Amazon. God, if you can, please do so. I know I should too. But right now, I’m just trying to keep my head above water and hey, the tap is leaking, and all the hardware stores that used to be near my home are gone.
We do need a revolution. America and numerous other countries are in the thrall of fascism and demagoguery. Capitalism is wrecking havoc on lives and standards of living throughout the world. So, ok boycott at least Amazon, if it makes you feel better about yourself.
Meanwhile, there is some hope: the trillion-dollar-a-year company has some enemies, including wretched politicos and the lack of a labour force.
It’s unlikely that attempts at turning back the clock to a time when Amazon didn’t run consumerism is going to be very effective, or that Amazon is going to disappear, but I do believe that it might be forced to make changes if it can’t get the labour it needs or if governments start exercising pressure and fining companies like Amazon, Apple and Google for abuses.
In 2016, Canada’s Competitions and Standards Bureau fined Amazon Canada a million bucks for misleading pricing. As Amazon tries to start wholesale and distribution plants in Canada, it’s going to have to obey our labour laws, or get the fuck out.
Amanda Earl is a critical thinker from Ottawa, Canada who tries not to be a hypocrite. Managing editor of Bywords.ca and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress, Earl is interested in supporting whimsy, exploration and connection between kindred misfits. As a writer, she has three books out: Kiki, a poetry book with Chaudiere Books, A World of Yes, an erotic e-novella published through DevilHouse, and Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl, a collection of perverse tales put out through Coming Together of NYC, all of the revenue from sales of the latter goes to GMHC, a global organization for AIDS/HIV awareness and support. Her most recent essay, “After Survival,” was published in the collection Against Death: 35 Essays on Living (Anvil Press, 2019) and her most recent poetry chapbook is Aftermath or Scenes of A Woman Convalescing (above/ground press, 2019). For more info: AmandaEarl.com. To connect on Twitter: @KikiFolle. Image: Amazon Logistics Centre, Madrid, Spain. Photograph by Álvaro Ibáñez via Wikimedia Commons (cc).