Some Math and NYC’s recent rejection of the Bezos/Amazon deal

The richest man on the planet, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, took detailed bids from American cities looking for two perfect locations to host his new Amazon centers.   The cities offered Amazon all sorts of inducements, and each divulged a ton of valuable data, to entice Mr. Bezos to locate a new plant in their city.   New York City offered $3,000, 000,000 (three billion) in tax gifts to Amazon.  Bezos, the richest man in the world, was set to make NYC one of Amazon’s new hubs, designated HQ2.    Recently, due to massive opposition on the ground, from local residents, unions, and a number of NYC politicians, Amazon backed out of the deal with NYC.

Those in favor of the deal pointed out that NYC will be losing 25,000 new jobs by letting the deal with Amazon’s fall through.   Others pointed out that giving Amazon a massive tax break to locate HQ2 in Queens was not worth the few good jobs for locals that would be created.  I had the picture of $15/hr jobs for Amazon serfs taking the bulk of these jobs.   It appears these jobs at the planned HQ2 were high paying Amazon jobs.   From the Bezos-owned Washington Post:

Opponents, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), protested that the influx of Amazon employees, to be paid an average salary of at least $150,000 a year [1], would cause housing costs to skyrocket, drive out low-income residents and worsen congestion on the subway and streets.   source

Most Amazon jobs are not the kind of meaningful jobs that make any kind of positive difference in anyone’s lives, except for the fast food worker income they provide.   They are what economists call “bullshit jobs”, unskilled, repetitive factory jobs that will soon be done by robots.  Virtually all of Amazon jobs are non-union jobs (Amazon is a big opponent of unions) at $15 an hour.   Warehouse jobs, fetching and carrying, hustling to make ambitious hourly quotas.   Working conditions at Amazon fulfillment centers are famously hellish.

I immediately reached for my calculator since I already knew that it would take one of these workers 591,412 hours, or 68 years, working twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, without taking an hour off, to make what the boss, Mr. Bezos, Jeff, makes in an hour.   How about these 25,000 new workers, I wondered.   How long would this whole group of typical Amazon workers have to work to earn what Jeff makes every hour whether he shows up or not?

With so many sharing the load, turns out it would only take those 25,000 new workers a shade under 24 hours to make, together, what their boss makes every hour, whether he is sick, flying in the air or sailing on a yacht.  Individually, of course, it still would take each of those 25,000 new workers sixty-eight years, working twenty-four hours a day seven days a week without a break to make what Bezos earns every hour.   

What about a hundred new workers, how long would they all have to work, to earn what their boss gets in one hour?   Only 5,974 working hours each.   That’s only 149 forty hour weeks each  for these hundred assuming they took no breaks.  Barely three years, if they worked without vacations.

Jeff makes $191,000 a minute.   It would take one Amazon worker several years to make that, what her boss makes in sixty seconds.   A year’s salary for that typical Amazon worker?  A few seconds of her boss’s time.  Those working the now gone high paying HQ2 jobs would earn Jeff’s one minute income in about a year.  Fair is fair.   We owe everything to our visionary billionaires, after all.


[1]  This average salary is an interesting question.   If you average Jeff’s $8,961,187 hourly wage and an average line worker’s $15 an hour, the two workers average $4,480,601 hourly compensation, nice money if you can get it.  

Those 25,000 jobs that average over $150,000 can be any combination.   Pay ten upper echelon Amazon executives $5,000,000,000 a piece, pay 2,990 lesser executives $1,000,000 each, and the remaining 22,000 drones $30,000 each ($15/hr times 40 hours times 50 weeks) and you get an average income of $148,000.   Add in one $50,000,000 CEO-type salary and you have an average of $150,000 for those 25,000 jobs.   Make that CEO’s pay $50,025,000 and the average income for each of the 25,000 workers, million dollar and thirty thousand dollar ones alike, is over $150,000.  We have no idea what the breakdown actually is.


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