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December 22, 2004

Amazon's Contribution to the Destruction of Social Security

by Ron Hogan

Sorry to harp on this issue of Amazon's contributions to Republican politicians...though, actually, today's message deals specifically with two of the online retailer's Democratic beneficiaries: Ron Kind and Adam Smith. I'm not quite sure what in Kind's House position motivated Amazon's $1,000 contribution to his campaign, but Smith probably got his $2,000 because he's the U.S. Representative in the company's own backyard... The reason I mention them is that they've been cited by Josh "Talking Points Memo" Marshall as part of a baker's dozen of Democrats who might vote for Bush's plans to gut Social Security. It goes without saying that we might reasonably expect the GOP candidates who got into office with help from Amazon to vote the party line on this issue. Jeff Bezos, of course, is all set for his retirement, but the way he and his colleagues toss their PAC money (some of which is your book money) around, you might be left to fend for yourself. Does that sound right to you?

Of course, one could easily dismiss this as an ex-employee's griping, I suppose, except for this: I had a reasonably decent time when I was there, as anybody getting paid to sit around and read books all day would, and although I certainly missed that meal ticket at the time, the editorial layoff that sent me packing was in my opinion an economically sound move. (Why should they have kept paying the five of us full-time salaries to write copy most people ignored in favor of the "reviews" customers churned out for free?) And while I never was a dotcom millionaire, what I got from my stock came in handy. So I don't have any major gripes about my time there. The problems I have with how they spend their PAC money, I'd have with any other megabookseller...except that every other megabookseller seems to lean heavily, heavily Democratic.

(By the way, Mark Sarvas and Edward Champion have joined those who will no longer link to the Amazon site...)

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