Georgia's outrageous incentive plan for Amazon treated owner Jeff Bezos like the king of the universe. Perhaps he is.
Bezos, the richest man in the history of the world, received lucrative packages from New York City and Crystal City, Va., to establish Amazon outposts there.
But J-Bez rejected an even more lavish package of perks offered by the state of Georgia, which struggles to give its teachers pay raises, limits funding for health care and eagerly enacts welfare programs for wealthy white men.
The Peach State's $2 billion gift bag for Amazon included a private airport lounge for Amazon execs, a publicly funded private academy for Amazon workers and some kind of special Amazon car on MARTA trains, according to The AJC. The outlandish package is again bringing Georgia national ridicule, including an incredulous New York magazine article.
Despite the grandiose Georgia offer, Amazon rejected Atlanta for a headquarters site outside of Seattle. Perhaps Georgia's offer was so fantastical that Amazon refused it out of an uncharacteristic sense of corporate shame.
Amazon likely realized that accepting the Georgia deal would have brought an outpouring of protest in Atlanta even greater than that now erupting in New York City over the incentive package that lured the company to Long Island City in the borough of Queens, best known as the home of Donald Trump, Archie Bunker and the New York Mets.
In a rare occurrence, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal joined in condemning the Amazon incentives given by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew "Amazon" Cuomo. Rupert Murdoch's WSJ and Fox News even united with New York socialist and U.S. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in opposing the Amazon deal.
Even more heated opposition would have risen in Atlanta if Amazon had accepted Georgia's package. Surely Fortune 500 companies that have made Atlanta their headquarters for years without such governmental largesse would have howled at the special airport lounge and free parking offered Amazon.
Imagine the ire of Coca-Cola, Southern Co., Home Depot and UPS execs. Longtime prominent Atlanta company Delta Air Lines has a special club at the airport for its most frequent passengers, who must pay for the privilege. Delta, which is likely to get a tax break on jet fuel in the current legislative special session, presumably doesn't receive free space for its lounge. The Amazon lounge would put Delta at a competitive disadvantage to other airlines used by Amazon execs.
The offer of a special academy providing college-level courses and lifetime learning to Amazon employees is outrageous. Georgia students have to pay tuition to attend the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and other universities. They need to receive high grades to be eligible for Hope scholarships. Many Georgians aren't even accepted by flagship state schools. Yet Amazon employees would have received unlimited free access to higher education, and a boost to career advancement.
If the Amazon academy paid better salaries, it would draw top professors from Georgia and Tech, depriving students at the state schools of the best educational opportunities.
The state-funded academy would give Amazon an edge over other corporations in attracting top talent. Amazon's monopoly on the best workers would cripple efforts to develop high-tech startups.
Out of all the offered perks, the special Amazon car on MARTA trains was the most ludicrous. The AJC report was vague on details. Such a plan seemed more the ill-conceived product of some bureaucrat's overactive imagination than a well-thought-out proposal.
Already suffering from overcrowding, each MARTA train apparently would have had to include a special Amazon car, subsidized by the transit system's sales taxes. Would the special car have been off-limits during rush hours or when trains are packed for sporting events? How would the car have been used in "distributing" Amazon products? The plan doesn't seem very efficient for home deliveries, already provided for the company by the postal service.
Outgoing Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has refused Medicaid expansion, claiming it would be too expensive for the state. Apparently his administration had no qualms about wrecking the state budget for Amazon.