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I’m a New Yorker, and I’m Really Upset About Losing Amazon’s HQ2

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The following essay is adapted from an episode of The Gist, a daily podcast from Slate about news, culture, and whatever else you’re discussing with your family and friends.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had called Amazon’s decision to move to Queens the single biggest economic development deal in New York City history. And that means he just lost the single biggest economic development deal in New York City history.

Amazon was supposed to get $3 billion in subsidies. In exchange, New York state was to get $27 billion flowing into its coffers. Any business in the world would have gotten most of those subsidies by law. Not just the massive, wealthy ones.

Maybe the narrative around Jeff Bezos and his helicopter bothered you, but let’s not focus on emotion. Let’s focus on the $3 billion is subsidies and $27 billion over 25 years that Amazon would have given the state and city. (New York City’s total budget is $89.15 billion.) Both of those numbers might be inflated by activists on each side, but they don’t seem so far out as to be called bullshit upon (a service I provide).

We could offer poor, down-on-their-luck business owners some subsidies when they bring 25,000 jobs into New York City, but I don’t think those are the types who have 25,000 jobs to create. It’s almost as if the more great-paying jobs a company has to offer, the more likely it is that its CEO is very well-compensated. There are exceptions, but this is the rule, and it shouldn’t have upset New Yorkers to the point of saying “no” to billions of dollars in investment.

Amazon didn’t need the subsidies. It just wants it. But isn’t this just an example of the rich getting richer? It is, by $3 billion. But you know who else would have gotten richer? Every New Yorker, by $27 billion. Of course, there are only 20 million New Yorkers, so it really comes out to only around $1,350. If I offered you $1,350, but it meant that a........

© Slate