I love Prime Day, but Amazon deserves scrutiny

Graphic by Margaret Heffernan

Graphic by Margaret Heffernan

Ethan Leifman

It’s not an exaggeration to say my family couldn’t survive without Amazon. We use Amazon Prime for nearly every odd but necessary purchase, the Washington Post can be found on our kitchen table, and the majority of the food in our fridge is from Whole Foods. So of course, Amazon’s Prime Day in July was a big day (or two days, actually) for us. 

Prime Day is basically a second Cyber Monday with tons of deals, loved by Amazon aficionados everywhere. At the same time, I saw a few social media posts calling for support for an Amazon worker strike.

Did this stop me from buying a super soft and huge fleece blanket for only $12? No. But I did do some research into Amazon’s treatment of their workers. An investigation by The Guardian revealed that Amazon warehouse employees frequently find their health needs compromised. 

In one disturbing case, Amazon wouldn’t let an employee developing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome take adequate time off. There are also accusations of Amazon overworking their warehouse staff, possibly resulting in their premature deaths. 

Some Wilson students, including junior Walker Price, are vehemently opposed to many of Amazon’s policies. “I think that Amazon’s unabashed corporate greed is very reflective of our consumerist society and how they essentially have so much power and wealth and influence that they can get away with anything,” Price said.

Additionally, some progressive Americans, including Price, fear Amazon has become too powerful a conglomerate and wish to break it up. This idea is championed by many progressive politicians, including 2020 presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. Price and others strongly against the company promote the use of boycott tactics to stifle the company’s power. “A mass boycott of Amazon would be one of the few things short of a revolution to actually have an effect, so if more people did, that’d be great,” said Price. Price suggests shopping at thrift stores, local small businesses, eBay, and Depop, but when it can’t be avoided, buy from local corporations.

Of course, many argue that Amazon has many positive aspects as well. After a 200-city search, Amazon’s “HQ2” search for a second headquarters resulted in Amazon choosing New York’s Long Island City neighborhood and nearby Crystal City in Virginia. New Yorkers complained that they got an unfair deal as New York gave much larger tax breaks to Amazon than Virginia did, resulting in Amazon stopping their plan to relocate to the city. However, Amazon’s new Crystal City headquarters promises to bring billions of dollars in economic development, 50,000 new tech jobs, and a revitalization of Crystal City. Notably, there are concerns that Amazon coming to the DMV could further exacerbate housing affordability issues. 

One of the main reasons many Wilson kids continue to support Amazon is because of their products. “Amazon is cool though, it’s OC convenient and you can get anything on there,” said senior Keymiah Armstrong.

Ultimately, it seems that there are two Amazons. The nice one offers cushy tech jobs with ping pong, fancy condos near its offices, and an extremely convenient Amazon prime that costs 119 dollars per year. The bad one mistreats some of its lower-wage workers, might increase housing unaffordability, and arguably is an all-powerful conglomerate that may be too high above the law. 

I can’t tell you to boycott Amazon or not, that’s your personal decision to make. Which Amazon you decide to see depends on who you are, but the true Amazon is probably somewhere in the middle.