How Amazon Can Have Its $15 Cake And Eat It Too

Alexandra Gornago Cake FB blog
Photo: Alexandra Gornago

Amazon raised their hourly compensation to $15 an hour. Why are some of their employees fuming?

Like all relationships: it’s complicated.

And when you add money to the mix, it’s more so.

As the New York Times explains it, in the wake of the new, across-the-board $15 an hour increase, Amazon’s incentive stock programs will go away. Amazon says the increase covers the loss.

But many employees are saying bullshit. Particularly as the holidays loom. The holiday season is Amazon’s “double down” period. Employees, particularly warehouse workers, tend to make more in incentives and bonuses as Amazon’s business volume doubles during that period.

From the New York Times article:

In a Facebook group popular with employees, workers fumed over the changes, according to screenshots from the page that were viewed by The Times.

There were so many negative pending posts on the day Amazon announced the $15 wage that a moderator wrote that she had deleted them and pleaded with workers to write to the corporate offices in Seattle rather than vent online.

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It’s evident how money complicates so many things in our society. And this is one reason why basic income schemes might fare about as well as Amazon’s wage increase. Yes, some people think a wage increase in the range of $15 per hour would provide better financial living conditions for many. And that may be true.

Until a company decides like Amazon and ends popular and beneficial incentive bonus programs as part of the plan. Or takes some other structured measure to nullify the increase’s bottom-line effect.

Besides, $15 an hour is not the same everywhere. In some American cities, the increase can mean more income. In others not. It really depends on where the wage-earner lives and works. And how else she is compensated.

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Nope. Not that. (Photo: Pinterest)

What people really want is not money, but what money provides. Paying a better wage, exemplified by the overwhelming complaints at Amazon, indicate that is not the best solution.

What is?

Perhaps rather than paying people money we can create infrastructure which allows each person, no matter their status, to receive all their basic needs without taking from anyone else. The problem with Amazon’s wage hike is it had to be balanced against other people’s loss.

That game always ends up costing someone.

But we live in the future people! We can give every human being their basic but delicious food, basic, durable clothing, basic but luxurious shelter, all their healthcare, and all their education. All without anyone losing.

Doing so would also allow their income to go farther.

Along with all that, which the world is more than capable of sustainably producing, said infrastructure could eliminate every person’s debt, while leaving creditors whole. And, it could reliably reward people for doing things that actually make the world better. Not worse. No one has to lose. It’s the future. Remember? In fact everyone can win, including those who want greater freedom and wealth-generating ability. In other words, you can have the cake and eat it.

Pipe dream?

Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? Designing such an infrastructure seems hard. Like the answer to the question “who’s buried in Grants Tomb?”.

But like that question, when you know the answer, it’s obvious. Similarly, when you know the answer to “how do you create an infrastructure that allows everyone’s basic needs to be provided in a way that it doesn’t cost anyone anything” the answer is obvious.

As for the question “how would you pay for all that?”

The best answer is “no one”. You create an infrastructure that allows all those things to be provided, with the provision costing no one.

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So Bernie Sanders, who once praised Amazon’s plan, is now asking Amazon some questions, according to the New York Times piece. It’s interesting that Amazon chose to end its bonus programs as a way of compensating the company for the wage increase’s cost. The increase’s expected impact to Amazon is less than one percent of revenues. That’s a lot, considering last year the company netted almost 189 billion.

One percent of top line, not the net, is a lot more. Yet, one percent of a hundred-billion-plus net revenue generator is pennies, really.

If it wanted to, it could absorb that one percent impact.

But we’re not arguing for that.

We’re suggesting there’s a way for Amazon to prosper and for its employees to do the same. Without penalizing anyone.

We know, there’s a saying. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Well, welcome to the future boys. Now you can.

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