Baltimore, Amazon, and the Problem of Succumbing to Large Corporations
February 12, 2018
This year, hundreds of cities across the US applied to be the location of Amazon’s new headquarters, HQ2. These cities included Raleigh, North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and, our home, Baltimore Maryland. Baltimore, already the location of an Amazon warehouse, offered the corporation incentives exceeding $5 billion. It is not out of the ordinary for cities like Baltimore to offer a company so much money to build their headquarters and manufacturing plants in their area. Newark, for example, offered Amazon $7 billion to build HQ2 in their city. Although Baltimore did not make the cut for HQ2, many Marylanders (including myself) had a problem with Baltimore offering this much money to such a large corporation—especially when there are problems within the city itself that this much money could solve.
One of the most pressing of these problems is the lack of air conditioning and heat in Baltimore City schools. This winter season, Baltimore City schools closed for almost a week due to a lack of heating in schools. Elementary age children were left in frigid temperatures, still wearing their winter coats while sitting in classrooms. According to a study conducted by Baltimore City Schools in 2012, general upkeep of schools, including air conditioning and heat, would cost $1.4 billion, $4 billion dollars less than what the city offered Amazon. So, why are children in Baltimore City continuing to sit in frigid classrooms in the winter and sweltering classrooms in the summer? The problem lies within the fact that cities across the country are willing to succumb to the needs of large corporations at the expense of their citizens.
Let’s return to Newark, New Jersey, who is currently in the running to acquire Amazon’s HQ2. They are currently offering Amazon tax breaks worth $7 billion over the next decade. However, Newark is a part of Essex County, which houses 24% of New Jersey’s homeless population. This homelessness problem could be funded by the same money they are offering in tax breaks to Amazon. Rather than assist the citizens of their county, the government of New Jersey offered billions of dollars in savings to a company already making billions upon billions of dollars a year.
The capitalistic values of our government have begun to exceed the needs of the citizens. Cities like Baltimore and Newark continuously offer money to giant companies but fail to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in their city. This trend will prove to become more problematic over time. Citizens will no longer be willing to trust their government because they know that their leaders are willing to give money to the top companies rather than the needy people of their state.