- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

Vice hit piece on Amazon’s ‘subsidies’ illustrates no subsidies at all

Vice wants us to know that Amazon being treated just like everyone else is a subsidy to Amazon. But this is Amazon being treated just like everyone else.

The argument here is about subsidies to business [1]. The first error is in getting the definition of a subsidy wrong. Not taxing an activity is not a subsidy to that activity – it’s not taxing it. We do not tax people walking down the street — that is not a subsidy to walking down the street, it is not taxing it.

The numbers that are then reached – Amazon is subsidized by $4.8 billion – are therefore wrong. Simply because much of what is talked about just isn’t a subsidy.

It’s also more wrong than that. The claim throughout the report [2] is that Amazon is special in some manner in not being taxed. One example of this is an Amazon warehouse in a freeport area in Argentina. The entire point of freeports themselves is that anyone – and everyone – who sets up in the area does so free of certain taxes. This is like saying that Texas subsidizes people because there is no state income tax in Texas – although perhaps we’d better stop giving the activists ideas to complain about.

It is, however, true that some places do subsidize some activities. There are actual cases of real money moving from taxpayers to corporations for example. This is also something that shouldn’t happen. This is the problem with these larger claims being made about Amazon. The wild claims that non-taxation, on exactly the same basis as everyone else, is a subsidy to Amazon obscures the details of he – much smaller – real subsidies which shouldn’t be happening.

Vice is a large media organization these days. Its TV channel reaches 60 million American households, its magazine has a 900,000 copy run and the website gains 30 million visits a month. They should be able to do better than this.

Finally, one little point: “Amazon Has Received $4.7 Billion in Subsidies Globally, Watchdog Says” This report does not come from a watchdog, it’s a small group of researchers funded by UNI Global Union. An international organization of various unions – you know like the ones trying to get Amazon’s warehouses to unionize? The report itself is biased, let alone the reporting on it.