Amazon Schmamazon – DC Don’t Need No Stinkin Amazon HQ2

The DC Tech Scene is all a tizzy over the possibility that Amazon will open its second headquarters, or what all the cool kids are calling Amazon HQ2 somewhere in the DMV.

For those of you who are living in a hefty bag, let me catch you up. In September 2017 Amazon announced it’s intention to spend $5 billion in construction cost for a second headquarters that would employ 50,000 people somewhere in North America. They invited economic development authorities and local governments to join a beauty contest for the honor to host Amazon HQ2.

On January 19th Amazon made their decision. Based on all the tax incentives and other corporate welfare offerings from all the bidding parties, Amazon narrowed their choices to 20 finalists from 17 major metropolitan areas. They are:

The DC region has 3 bites at the 20 bite apple. Washington DC, Montgomery County, and Northern Virginia.  And all of a sudden the press went a flutter! Well, not the Journalists, let me rephrase that. The link baiters at DCInno and Technial.ly.dc better known as (Technically not Technically) all have Amazon fever.

Well, folks, I’m not all aflutter… not only do I think we don’t have much chance of landing Amazon HQ2, I think landing HQ2 would be a disaster for our region. Why?

Why We Don’t Want Amazon HQ2 in the DMV

  • Talent – Technical Talent, Consumer Marketing Talent, just great talent in general is scarce in Washington. Good people are all employed. Have you tried to find a competent engineer lately? It’s would be easier to get 8 opening night front row seats to Hamilton and Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (wow, wouldn’t that be cool, a Hamilton/Springsteen mashup).
  • Traffic – Has anyone driven on the Beltway lately? We have a traffic problem and 50,000 new jobs, will add to that problem.
  • WMATA – Metro or Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. I just like to bitch about WMATA so I added them here (me bitching about WMATA).
  • Taxes – We regional tax slaves already pay high taxes. Both income and property taxes. What will happen to our government when they give huge tax breaks to Amazon to incent them to move to the DMV. We add 50,000 new jobs and get less tax from the business.  Let me explain how taxes work for municipalities. Corporations pay taxes and only consume a fraction of what they pay for government services. Humans consume much more government service than they pay in taxes. A strong tax base is constructed of a good mix of givers… businesses and takers… humans. Amazon will likely not be a giver based on tax incentives.
  • Prices – Do you know how expensive it is to go out in DC. NHL Capital tickets are already way overpriced. Wait until we add more consumers. Hot Dogs at the CapOne Center will be $28. Papa Johns will cost $30 and if they ever serve pizza at the arena I can’t even imagine what that would cost.
  • Distraction – This city has a startup problem. We have a dearth of startups founded in the DMV that become sustained industry leading corporations.  We need more organically built major employes like CapitalOne and Marriott. Amazon HQ2 is going to suck the talent out of the startup ecosystem doing to DC what Amazon did to Seattle.

Why Amazon Doesn’t Want Amazon HQ2

  • Available Talent – Ten of the contestants have higher unemployment rates than DC. Including NYC and Newark NJ which are in the same major metropolitan area. 
  •  Quality of Life – On this one DC ranks high. According to USNews and the quality of life in DC places us just Behind Austin and Denver. So Amazon, why don’t you ruin the quality of life in those cities and leave us the F&8k alone.
  • Cost of Living – Between Taxes and home prices… it costs ass-loads of moolah to live here. You’re going to have to pay your people the big bugs if you want them to eat.
  • Payroll – Any savings they have in tax incentive Amazon is going to lose in Payroll Cost. DC has the highest per capita income of all the contestants. In fact, it’s almost double the first 12.

Bad Transportation systems, bad traffic, high taxes, scarcity of available tech talent, hot in the summer, cold in the winter. Humid lousy weather. The Beltway, WMATA and no place to get a good Pizza. If I’m Amazon, I’m locating in Raleigh, Austin or Atlanta and that’s great for the DMV. I don’t want no stinking Amazon HQ2 with their robots and their drone delivery and their hipster employees taking over our Starbuckses.  Let Amazon ruin someone else’s town.

Summary

Here’s a point that I’m not sure that I made clear enough. Business pays more in taxes than they consume in services. For instance, businesses do not go to schools, or use parks or libraries.
 
People consume more services than they pay in taxes. For instance, people go to schools, like 13 grades of public school and any of those people are like me we do 7th grade over and over again until we get it right.
 
If a jurisdiction gives a huge tax break to the business in order to get them to relocate, then that formula gets turned on its head. And someone will have to pay for the new schools and added drain on services. That someone is taxpayers, which means if you are reading this and you live in the DC area, and you’re not Donald Trump who pays no taxes (no Offense Mr. President) than you will be paying more in taxes.
 
With unemployment, especially unemployment for the class of employee that Amazon will hire is so low… it makes no sense to give a tax break to a company that will be increasing our cost of living, negatively impacting our quality of life, and create a larger scarcity of talent that is already impacting the growth of native regional companies.

And faux news people… please try and stop drooling over this.

Lastly for those of you who haven’t seen the interview process yet, here’s a video of the municipalities and economic development authorities presenting to Jeff Bezos.

 

Here’s a link for email readers.