Back to Amazon

Convenience is power, and Amazon clearly has figured this out. After all, we are a busy people, at least those with money to spend. Traipsing off to Costco or the mall in search of what you need loses out to the utter expedience of point-and-click shopping.

But suppose the hundreds of thousands of us succumbing to convenience enable an unstoppable juggernaut that some day drives most stores out of business. Even approximating such a monopoly gives Mr. Bezos the ability to set prices, since competition crumbles with each online purchase. One can take bets on what will happen first: Amazon’s global hegemony or the systematic parching of the planet.

But one more thing, this from economist Dean Baker:

Amazon has not had to collect sales tax in most states for most of its existence, giving the company an enormous subsidy in its competition with brick and mortar competitors. The cumulative size of this subsidy almost certainly exceeds its cumulative profits in the years that it has been in existence. Any discussion of Bezos success should mention this huge subsidy from the government.

Bezos the libertarian accomplishes a two-pronged objective: world dominance and the squeezing of governments. A Faustian bargain, trading convenience for the destruction of both the environment and the commonweal.