Tuesday, May 17

Amazon revisited

The South Carolina House is going to take up again voting for or against giving extending sales tax breaks to Amazon.com if the company builds a distribution center in Lexington County.  Not only are Lexington County jobs on the line, but other places in South Carolina could benefit from related Amazon investment.  

The illogical debate over the subject can only be defined by the money being spread around by the likes of Wal-Mart and Target who have given money to fund a group for so called "main street values."  It sounds good, unless you consider that Wal-Mart, Target and other big box stores have done more to put small businesses on main street out of business than anything online competitors like Amazon or QVC has.  In fact, South Carolina gave a break to QVC.   Amazon actually opens its site for smaller vendors to participate in.

But, Amazon is different, it hits the big box stores bottom lines.  So around the country, they have fought Amazon building distribution centers, citing always, main street values.  They throw money around, hire good political guns, give to taxpayer groups or at least fire them up, and fight Amazon from doing business.  It is politics at both its best to some and its ugliest for the people in South Carolina looking for jobs.  

Further, the ultimate illogical part of the argument is that if South Carolina does not help Amazon set up here, South Carolinians will not buy tax free goods from the online retailer.  Wrong answer.  The goods simply will come from some other state, where the workers are not from South Carolina and  the competition with Wal-Mart and the big box retailers will remain the same as it is now. The losers are South Carolinians looking for work and the little guys who do their business through Amazon.

In short, members of our General Assembly and leaders of so called taxpayers groups are being played by very well paid political hands from the big box retailers.  We are pawns in their game.  Jobs for our people are the cost we pay to be those pawns.  That is not the South Carolina the late Carroll Campbell envisioned. 

Further, for those worried about saving the small businessman selling his wares on main street in some small town, think on this.  Who is the real competition?  An online retailer that you have to pay shipping costs to and wait a few days for what you want, or the big box retailers down the street, who might pay the same sales tax you do, but have you beat because they are so large around the country they dictate the price to suppliers and they have the resources to spend hundreds of thousands to keep from competing on items you don't usually sell that are found online?   And, who is more likely to offer a small time business access to a national market, Amazon or the big box retailers?

If you think about it in those terms, and consider the jobs at stake, standing up against the big box retailers is a main street value. But, of course, standing up against that money takes courage.  We will see what happens and list the votes again.

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