There’s something quietly disturbing about this Forbes piece on Jeff Bezos, and I’m at a bit of a loss to articulate it.

It’s got something to do with the link between mottos like “the customer is always right” to the sort consumerist, hyper-individualism that contributes to massive social inequality. Because, like, who cares that Amazon’s distribution centres are dehumanising hellholes, so long as I get my same-day delivery amirite?1

Yeah. Maybe not so much.

One of the things pretty much every Australian who travels to the US notes is how ridiculously cheap everything over there is. Savvier observers realise the reason behind this: if you’re only paying your waiters $2/hour, then of course the food is going to be cheaper than a place that has to pay $11. Ditto for overheads in retail stores, including Amazon (which still has to pay staff to manage its inventory, if nothing else). But, more importantly, consumer goods have to be cheaper across the board, because salaries are so shit-poor no one could afford anything if they weren’t.

It’s a cycle, in other words.

The point here is income inequality, and also a social comment on what importance individuals place on their own personal convenience versus the exploitation of others.

Amazon’s an easy scapegoat in this one, and it’s not solely responsible for the problem.

But it is symptomatic of it.

  1. Always ironic, given Amazon is one of the slowest international shippers, at least to Australia.