I am Bezos, billionaire and international diaper tycoon. Don't you dare tax me because you wouldn't be able to shop online without me.

Microsoft took a long time to consider the internet as a thing and was fighting anti-trust charges already, IBM was on its way to ignore the consumer market and Xerox on its way to kill itself, and so was Sun, thinking they were IBM. The retailers didn’t want to change a good thing, because risks don’t pay dividends before you move on somewhere else.

I was a minor :P but there were other competitors that could’ve won, or some of the incumbents could’ve woken up. There’s a reason the big companies buy or litigate everything that moves these days.

Me? Hell, no, I’m just a dumb coder with little skills outside software. Plenty of others who were in similar positions? Maybe. Honestly, I give much more credit Amazon credit for creating AWS: even if it’s an mess to figure out (not much their fault), and not many companies could try do the same due to costs of scale, they did it mostly right.

But I’m not one of the persons arguing Bezos is the worst, or not hard-working (I don’t really know either). Or that he should be stripped of his cash. Or that a blanket wealth tax can work.

So that sounds like what Bezos did was in fact NOT so obvious then. Given that all of these other companies who were well positioned to take advantage… Didn’t do what he did.

Sophistry. Compensation is compensation, whether it comes from ownership or benefits or hard cash. And yes, I’ve seen your argument about how selling shares impacts company value. Fine, just give the option to pay the tax in kind, then. Let the government own small chunks of Amazon or Berkshire or whatever.

And remember, the reason that company is so valuable in the first place is that it took advantage of society in some way. Monopoly or monopsony practices (both in different arenas, in the case of Amazon). Regulatory capture. Pollution. Patent hoarding. Using contractors instead of employees to avoid paying benefits. High powered lobbying. Using bankruptcy law in ways not available to poorer folks. Tax avoidance (certainly using legal methods, maybe illegal ones too). The possible ways that a big enough company can rig the system to its own advantage are nearly endless, and they all have negative effects on the rest of society to some extent. “Smart dude has idea” gets you a successful company with millionaire owners; “company warps the system to its own benefit” gets you mega-corporations with owners worth billions.

I depends on what you’re talking about. 2019’s Amazon retail business was unthinkable, even Bezos’ vision was much more limited and he thought it was likely to fail, and he certainly didn’t count on the bust wiping his competition while surviving on investors willing to keep losing money.
On the contrary, everyone thought it would be a healthy competitive market with low margins… which it still is in Europe.


It’s not compensation, because he already owned it. He owned it when it was worth nothing, and then it became worth something after he already owned it.

So he shouldn’t be allowed to own his company, which he started, any more? Because it was too successful?

I shouldn’t be allowed to own my house, which I bought, any more? Because it was in a highly desirable neighborhood?

We tax wealth all the time. Get over it.

It just so happens that the wealth we tax is about the only meaningful form of wealth achievable to your average middle class worker.

Its the kinda far out of reach that get favorable tax deals.

Is it moral to tax wealth?

I just consider the wealth tax another way of raising the necessary revenue. If people get too good at rearranging financial structures that they avoid most of the income tax, they still have to contend with a wealth tax. It’s defense in depth for the tax system. I would probably put it at about 1% though.

But ultimately it won’t work.

While increasing income taxes is unlikely to cause billionaires to leave, telling them they are going to lose 6% of their wealth every year? Yeah, they aren’t going to stay for that. Why would they?

6% that seems like a risk. 1% or maybe 2% though? For the sake of discussion let’s assume that income taxes are cut in exactly the same amount as wealth taxes raised so it’s not a question of the right rate of overall taxation. otherwise it’s way too easy to get caught up on arguments that are really not specifically about wealth taxes. Are wealth taxes still worse?

So here’s the thing that fails when comparing to other countries with a wealth tax. Like, say, Switzerland. They don’t also have 40 years of poor tax policy that favored the accrual of power and wealth into a smaller number of individuals. The failed tax policies of the last 40 years have garnered incredible accumulation that is massively deleterious.

Even of a wealth tax was implemented tomorrow, that would have negligible impact in inequality. Matching the Swiss would not give us Swiss levels of distribution, the inherent advantages are too far entrenched.

No, it would merely slow the trend. If the goal is merely revenue, that would be fine. However if the goal is to make it so 1% of the population no longer has 23% of the revenue and 40+% of the wealth? Well than Swiss levels won’t cut it. You need a much higher initial rate in order to reverse current trends, before perhaps paring it down in the future.

And all that aside, there is another factor. The treating of capital gains as income, and returning top brackets to pre 1980 levels. Which would also have impacts going forward.

Now I haven’t looked too deeply at which policies would best achieve which specific goals. But the reality is there are two components, and it can not be discussed alone. Realistically I don’t thing doing either-or gets us both goals. I think income and wealth tax changes are both required. However if you want to quibble the specific numbers will not achieve stated goals? Well I can’t really argue one way or the other.

I just think too much hot air over this has been because people are arguing one objective wi Th a person raising points about the other.

Many, many, many other people did do it; they just weren’t as successful as Bezos at it. Had Bezos keeled over in 1993, who knows? We might be talking about Charles Stack and Books.com instead (look it up.)

You’re confusing “Ursain Bolt is the fastest 100m runner in the world” with, “Ursain Bolt is the only 100m runner in the world; if he didn’t exist, no one would ever have run the 100m.” The fact that one person won the race doesn’t mean the other runners would never have finished.

The success is part of what he did, dude. What Bezos did was more than “sell stuff in the internet”.

Again, even if you think that tons of other people did what he did, but he was the one who succeeded… WHY did he succeed when everyone else failed, including tons of way richer, more powerful, more well established companies?

Why did the guy selling books out of his garage succeed when no one else did?

We aren’t talking about books.com, are we? Why not?

Part of it is due to the scope of his vision. Why did Bezos name his company “Amazon.com” instead of “Books.com”? Because he was already looking beyond selling books. Even if Bezos had dropped dead in 1993, I doubt that people would be going to Books.com to buy a hedge trimmer and a Ferrari bumper and a collection of rare artisanal cheeses.

And Barnes and Noble was already an established bookstore. They were already a huge company. They had every advantage over Bezos.

And they lost to him.

We talk about Bezos because he’s number one, and people are only fascinated by number one.

He is not the only billionaire, he’s not the only billionaire in tech, and he’s not the only billionaire in retail. So why is this thread dedicated to him and not Amancio Ortega? Because Ortega has almost as much money as Bezos, but not quite as much. It’s the same reason we don’t talk about the third fastest sprinter in the world.

But just because more than one person has exceptional accomplishments doesn’t mean that those accomplishments were inevitable.

No, they didn’t. They lost to Amazon, a company he founded and leads.

Again, did Donald Trump track down and kill al-Baghdadi?

And why did they largest book retailer in the world lose to a startup?

It was so obvious. Why didn’t they just do… Everything Amazon was gonna do?

Trump didn’t found the US military. The US military existed for hundreds of years. Fighting ISIS was taking place before he was even president.

Bezos was the example that Timex started with. Bezo is also, if not quite a best case example of a billionaire, certainly much more defensible than someone like a Koch brother.