But arguably even more concerning than deepening regional inequality and the possibility of Bezos becoming the landlord of the nation’s capital is the fact that few cities will be spared from Amazon’s growing influence and power.
“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.
Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org