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Stuck in the middle with Jeff

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

Jeffrey Denny

I hereby nominate Amazon chief Jeff Bezos for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Ridiculous? Consider this: Bezos has brought Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren together in perfect harmony, leading their MAGA lions and progressive lambs to lie down in peace and common cause of despising Amazon.

You’d think Republicans would love Bezos.

He’s a veritable poster child for Ayn Rand/Adam Smith capitalism, the classic Horatio Alger rags-to-riches, bupkis-to-billionaire success story.

Born of modest means and launching Amazon in his garage, through hard work, pluck and luck, Bezos built a better mousetrap that has the world beating a path to his door, to cite Mr. Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Bezos has spread the wealth by making billions of dollars for Amazon shareholders who are mostly the wealthy and vote Republican.

But — horrors — Bezos also is a liberal who gives to liberal causes and Democratic candidates.

Worse, Bezos owns the liberal fake news people-enemy Washington Post, whose cardinal sin is holding the President of the United States accountable. Just like the Founding Fathers hoped the free press would by protecting it in the First Amendment, ahead of the holy Second Amendment.

Trump, of course, has repeatedly attacked Amazon and Bezos personally in his usual thoughtful, mature, presidential way, such as: “So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post.”

Given the reasons Trump, MAGAs and Republicans hate Bezos, the progressive wing should love him.

Along with supporting liberal causes like gay marriage and rescuing professional journalism, Bezos announced a $15.15 minimum wage and challenged other large employers to follow suit.

It’s not unfair to suggest Bezos has helped democratize e-commerce by providing a cheap global 24–7 platform for smaller merchants and artists to market and sell their wares and services to people and places they could never reach otherwise.

And, with Amazon’s two planned HQ2 locations, Bezos pledged to create 50,000 good new jobs in places that wanted them.

Northern Virginia and Queens, NY, were thrilled to be selected over dozens of applicants that were dying for the chance to boost their economies, communities, schools, public services, etc.

But a small group of “progressives,” ignoring the working class they fight for, chased Amazon and its 25,000 jobs out of Queens.

In high dudgeon they declared, “Amazon hurts working people.” “Amazon delivers lies.” “Amazon causes family separation.” “Amazon fuels ICE deportations.” “Amazon causes homelessness.” And, “Amazon supports animal torture.” No mention of how Amazon contributes to looming climate doom.

Progressives also huffed that in spite of its billionaire CEO and gagillion, fafillion, shabolubalu million illion yillion-dollar profits, the capitalist pig Amazon pays zero taxes but banks taxpayer subsidies eked from the sweat off the backs of hard-working families.

Rising progressive star and Queens U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put the Amazon killing best: “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

Lost in the left-wing ire and powerful rhetoric was that the $3 billion investment in tax deferments and subsidies that New York promised Amazon over a decade — and only if Amazon delivered on its promises — would yield an estimated $30 billion gain for the region.

To repeat, the $3 billion was an investment, not a giveaway. Just like when your 401(k) or pension fund buys corporate stocks to earn a return so you can retire more securely.

In fact, investing in Amazon stock would have been one of the smartest things the pension funds of the labor unions protesting in Queens could have done to ensure their workers have decent retirement security.

But the progressives are too thrilled with demonizing greedy corporate shareholders to realize many of them and workers are shareholders too through their 401(k) and union pension accounts.

Now they’re blaming Amazon for hearing and heeding the local voices and pulling out of Queens, and have no plan to replace the lost 25,000 jobs.

I get how Bezos and Amazon are politically confusing and, like politics do, create icky bedfellows.

For example, a Republican friend hates Amazon. But not because Trump, the alt-right media, the GOP and her Facebook and Google news feeds reinforce her disdain.

She’s irked because unlike many customer loyalty programs, Amazon Prime charges an annual fee to get member discounts at Amazon-owned Whole Foods so, for example, the $19.99 salmon is only $9.99. Not fair to non-members, she says, without mentioning how it’s a hilarious First World gripe.

My Republican friend also had to grapple with this: By reviling Bezos and Amazon, she’s giving aid and comfort to the hard-left anti-capitalist progressive socialists she reviles including — gasp — Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

As for me, like millions of Americans, I use and like Amazon, and respect Bezos in spite of his insane personal peccadilloes.

Not just because Bezos and I have the same first name, and I find most Jeffs pleasingly affable. I do hope, and anticipate, Bezos and Amazon will deal with real issues that reasonable people raise.

And maybe, just maybe, if President Trump and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez could sit down together, break bread and swap stories about the terrible horrible no good very bad Bezos, then maybe they could bridge our political divides, bind up our nation’s wounds, and bring us together again.

Then we can all freely shop Amazon, get overnight deliveries and enjoy convenience and big savings without all that pesky hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer

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