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April 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Amazon: a virtual no-show in its hometown

Jobs over charity

The Seattle Times’ April 1 article criticizes Amazon’s lack of charitable contributions. [“Amazon a virtual no-show in its hometown,” page one].

Your newspaper’s employment section usually contains many job openings at Amazon. What would you rather have: jobs or charity?

Everyone I know would choose jobs, which feed the economy, over charity any day. And Amazon offers plenty of them.

— Jean Majury, Mercer Island

Disappointed in Amazon

Shame on Amazon.

As an academic who teaches and advises our next generation of tech employees at Highline Community College, I am disappointed in the lack of corporate giving and community support by one of our major technology companies, Amazon.

Many of my students value community service, and when advising them where to consider work or internships in the local tech and computer industry, I will keep this story in mind, and point them to companies that reflect their own commitment to giving. I hope Amazon will choose to be among them.

—Heather Price, Des Moines

Amazon doesn’t owe Seattle

Amazon does not owe Seattle anything. It is on a mission to make profits. It is off-mission doing anything else. Corporate giving and any other giving coming from vast concentrations of income or wealth would be far more beneficial were it to be paid out in wages, expended on employee benefits or just reduced by cutting the average workweek of all employees.

Not only do the less wealthy give a greater percentage of their smaller incomes, they also give with far greater diversity, assuring that whatever the next great discovery might be, it will be more likely to actually find a donor. Singling out Jeff Bezos for criticism seems way off-target to me, if gaining greater betterment for our region is your goal.

— George and Patricia Robertson, Seattle

No mandate

The last time I checked, it was still a free country, with companies like Amazon choosing whether or not to give to charity.

It brings thousands of jobs to the area and pump millions into our local economy. It is under no mandate (yet!) to get involved in philanthropy.

Leave it alone and let them run their incredibly successful business as they see fit.

— Michelle Cuykendall, Snohomish

Let companies be companies

The focus on Amazon’s lack of charitable contributions implies that companies should give. This is arguably wrong, and worthy of closer consideration at least.

Giving is taking sides. Advancing one interest often harms another. The Cascade Land Conservancy is an environmental group. A more pristine environment is good, but it’s not the only good. Timber workers, or those buying lumber, might be pleased with Amazon’s not giving to the CLC.

The reporters mention Amazon’s lack of support for the Seattle Symphony. I mean, really? Aid to the handicapped is broadly appealing but subsidies to symphony-goers?

Let companies be companies. Amazon is successful because of its leadership in the development of fantastic innovations; the availability of media — in the mail or on a Kindle — has simply exploded. But doing this was not simple, and I object to burdening Amazon with populist appeals.

I’m not against group giving; public goods and externalities arguments are compelling. But let’s leave production to businesses, and reallocation to the democratically elected.

I’m glad that buying from Amazon doesn’t lead to distributions to somebody’s list of the hottest charities. Except as cynical participation in a public-relations game, why it should remains obscure.

— Michael Philip Bandow, Auburn

Shareholders, employees donate

I am one of the millions of “owners” of Amazon. I am a shareholder through my mutual funds. The profits Amazon makes belong to me and the other shareholders.

As it turns out, my wife and I do make substantial donations to charity every year, and when we eventually draw money from our retirement accounts we will pay taxes on the profits that Amazon has made for us.

But, that is beside the point. As a shareholder, Amazon’s profits belong to us, not the writer of the article or the people of Seattle. The governments of Seattle and surrounding communities collect taxes from Amazon and its employees. That is what Amazon “owes.”

The employees of Amazon, I am sure, also donate to the charities they wish to donate to and shareholders do the same. Some of them will donate to charities that directly benefit the Seattle area and others will donate to charities that do not. That is their choice. I do not want the board of directors of Amazon taking my money, which I depend upon for my retirement, and some day for my daily expenses and spending it on what they want. I want to spend it on what I want.

If the people of Seattle do not like having Amazon’s corporate headquarters in their city, I am sure my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., would be happy to have it.

— Patrick E. Walsh, Pittsburgh

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Thank you for the "hatchet job" on Amazon. Were you paid to do this or did... MORE
If Amazon made tax deductible contributions to charities, the Seattle Times would... MORE
good to see the majority of letter writers agreeing that amazon doesn't owe the people... MORE

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