‘Grotesque Level of Greed’: Owned by World’s Richest Man Jeff Bezos, Whole Foods Wants Workers to Pay for Colleagues’ Sick Leave During Coronavirus Pandemic

Yves here. We’ve said it before: Boycott Whole Foods. And stop using Amazon, or if you must (like you are in a retail desert), cut way back.

By Jon Queally. Originally published at Common Dreams

When progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders say “now is the time for solidarity” amid the coronavirus outbreak, they likely do not mean that employees of Whole Foods—owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos—should be asked to give their own accrued paid sick days to their co-workers who have either contracted the deadly virus or been forced to take time out of work because of what is now a global pandemic.

But that is exactly what executives with the grocery chain are asking its employers to do, even though Bezos’ could effectively give them unlimited paid sick leave during the current national emergency without barely a scratch in his bank account.

In a letter sent to employees earlier this week, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey explained that one of the options available to workers was for them to “donate” their “paid time off” (pto) days to a pool that other workers could draw from.

Journalist Lauren Kaori Gurley, who broke the story with reporting for Motherboard, notes that “as a subsidiary of Amazon, the world’s biggest company, Whole Foods could easily afford to pay its hourly employees for sick days taken during the coronavirus outbreak without breaking the bank. Instead, the company has put the onus back on workers, and they’re not happy about it.”

In Mackey’s letter reviewed by Motherboard, the executive stated: “Team Members who have a medical emergency or death in their immediate family can receive donated PTO hours, not only from Team Members in their own location, but also from Team Members across the country.”

Though such labor practices are not unusual—with workers in various sectors and industries pooling accumulated sick leave for a colleague experiencing a long-term illness—doing so in the face of a global pandemic, in which all members of society are equally at heightened risk, the move was seen by critics as shortsighted, tone deaf, and cruel. The fabulous wealth of Bezos only increased the ire for many.

“Whole Foods is owned by Amazon whose CEO and biggest shareholder is the world’s richest man,” tweeted progressive media critic and journalist Adam Johnson.

“Runaway capitalism is when Whole Foods suggests employees trade vacation time to address coronavirus rather than offer paid leave, all while the CEO rakes in ~$15 million a year in stocks, benefits, and more,” said Trish Zornio, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate in Colorado this year.

“You’ve got the richest man in the world asking people who are living paycheck to paycheck to donate to each other,” Matthew Hunt, a former Whole Foods employee who led a drive to unionize Whole Foods workers, told Motherboard. “That’s absolute bullshit. With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe.”

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127 comments

    1. Off The Street

      (checks calendar)
      Not April Fool’s Day, just Pi Day, so there goes that explanation.
      As if I ever needed yet another reason to never set foot in Whole Foods, although I do feel for the employees.
      Isn’t Amazon just screaming for an audit or 1,000 to find out where and how they are using any and every dodge to eliminate taxes?
      Do they sell Double Dutch Irish Sandwiches or whatever the Faustian Food of choice is these days?

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Amazon is going to make record profits off this, WF may as well due to people stocking up as well as other grocers, but Amazon will period. This is like turning most of the economy over to Amazon pretty much, as people are afraid of brick and mortar at this point.

        Reply
        1. Billy

          Amazon Asswhole Foods, majority owned by the world’s richest man.
          “In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in U.S. federal income tax on more than $11 billion in profits before taxes. It also received a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government.
          Until there is justice in the tax system, why should American citizens voluntarily participate in this oligarchs’ rigged game?
          File a permanant exemption from withholding, in the secure belief that the way things are going, you expect to not earn enough to owe.
          After that, paperwork is optional.

          It’s not like we’re getting healthcare or anything for our tax dollars.

          Reply
          1. cnchal

            > “In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in U.S. federal income tax on more than $11 billion in profits before taxes.

            The carry forward losses are stupendous, and will offset taxable income for years to come. It used to be that there was a time limit to carry forward losses, but that got extended to almost indefinite now. It is the same reason Uber will never pay a penny of income tax.

            That is part of the reasoning for generating large losses during operations. Destroy anyone that can’t fund those losses to obtain a monopoly, and then consolidate that monopoly by hook or by crook.

            Reply
        2. DHG

          I wont be buying much online, brick and mortar is safer, the merchandise and food is handled much less than having it delivered to your home and there wont be anywhere near the amount of people you would normally find. Im not afraid of the virus either.

          Reply
        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          No. Other grocers are legitimate grocers. Whole Foods is now just a Bezos front group in Grocer Disguise. Whole Foods is uniquely dangerous to the public as part of the Bezos Death Star, and is uniquely worthy of extermination as such.

          Reply
    2. Jay Money

      So when is the mob coming for these people?

      Better stock up on an inordinate amount of pitchforks for later price gouging…jk.

      Reply
  1. Hoppy

    What’s worse is these workers are literally on the front lines.

    Apple can close its stores. Imagine if all the groceries stores did this.

    They should be getting hazard pay! What a disconnect in the corporate world.

    Reply
    1. sierra7

      Remember that all grocery stores especially the large chains (and big box) are the end of the supply path from large warehouses delivered by many, many truck drivers. Only need to have just several tested for virus to come up positive to shut down warehouses and trucking operations. And, same for the whole food chain…..whether imported from afar or local.

      Reply
  2. paul

    Never see a crisis as anything but an opportunity

    Our ‘english’ Prime minister went on colour television saying that this particular virus will be a good thing.

    That those who can survive it will be the elect.

    We will live in a society that has purged the weak, and only the strong remain.

    Allowing,presumbaly that the best survive, we will be best placed to resume our predecessers place at the top table.

    PM johnsons government/ party policy is the character in Parasites basement.

    Reply
      1. Rob Dunford

        I said this over two weeks ago; the UK Gov has already done a cost/benefit analysis of ‘allowing’ the premature passing of several hundred thousand pensioners, vulnerable and disabled.
        People said I was sick, but when BJ said that many loved ones would depart early, I knew it was true.

        Reply
        1. paul

          I wonder if they will have to annonce a ‘black poppy day’ next year
          ..it’s easy to honour the victims.

          Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      Perhaps we should give an IQ test to all the elected political leaders across the globe and cull those who score below average. That would solve a lot of problems.

      Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            They would write the test. They would write the test in such a way that they pass the test and you fail the test. Do you still wish to offer them that idea?

            Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        I have the impression that sociopathy can be pretty reliably diagnosed on the basis of functional MRI scans.

        In future, I hope that fMRI brain scan will be a routine screening test for all offices of any kind that involve the exercise of authority over others. A toxic brain would be disqualifying for all such employment.

        This could solve the problem, previously noted by commenters at NC in reflection on the difficulty Sanders has in being … accurate about his opponents within the D party, that the ability to govern in the public interest may be incompatible, in the context of present realities, with the ability to achieve high enough office to be able to govern. Those public-spirited enough to govern in the public interest are not by nature vicious enough to reach the top, and those who are vicious enough to reach the top aren’t inclined to govern in the public interest.

        Screen out the sociopaths and restrict them to tasks that cannot harm others, and then you could see true public-spirited greatness in government.

        Reply
        1. norm de plume

          ‘I have the impression that sociopathy can be pretty reliably diagnosed on the basis of functional MRI scans’

          Reminds me of VMN from Philip Kerr’s Philosophical Investigation. In that book a physical ‘signature’ of sociopathy is found in some men; these are tagged secretly by government, and monitored. I guess that can be defended but I would find it hard using a physical attribute to screen for office, and foresee LGBT style support groups and political agitation for equal rights for the ‘afflicted’

          ‘Those public-spirited enough to govern in the public interest are not by nature vicious enough to reach the top, and those who are vicious enough to reach the top aren’t inclined to govern in the public interest’

          Admirably concise summation, thank you.

          Reply
    2. Ignacio

      I’ve been paying attention to it and I think that Johnsons’ epidemiologists approach has some merit in the sense that if most people can pass it without major consequences at the end you have a resistance barrier. The problem, IMO is if this can be readily managed without causing lots of casualties within the vulnerable. But it would be true that the socio-economic impact would be lesser. This is in fact why I have criticized before the harsh quarantine in China. As winter ends, and this has been the mildest winter I can remember we could expect the disease to also become milder, but can we afford months of quarantine? Questions with no easy answer.

      I am starting to believe that countries in Europe, and probably around the world are using the FluNet to track Covid 19 incidence, rather than those widely published numbers on confirmed cases that everybody knows is only a shadow of the real infections. The information that these estimates bring would be what prompts decision making on quarantines. The numbers aren’t published in order to avoid panic. It makes a lot of sense to do both (use the FluNet and hide the results), I would do it!

      Now, three in my enclosed family including me, have been experiencing something for a couple of days. Some head-ache, some other mild symptoms and aches without fever. I don’t have any idea if this could be even a viral infection I am confused about this. If this is it, I can understand how this virus has been passing along breaking the containment barriers.

      Reply
  3. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    If the premise is that Bezos is a pig on the scale of Rockefeller, I’m on board. The miserly response of many of these people proves to me that those who make the rules in this so called civilization and are privy to the real data (as opposed to the bilge that is propagated endlessly on all the Mockingbird conduits from Fox to MSDNC to “”Democracy’ Now”, where your compassion is put in harness to the CIA’s latest foreign policy prerogatives.), these people understand clearly that this is all just a particularly virulent flu and not a world ending catastrophe requiring a vigorous response. Hey- if some of those greying Gen-Xers and doddering Boomers can be cleared out of their jobs by this thing- that’s what ou call a blessing. There’s a whole new cadre of youngsters to harvest.
    Sorry to go all Zero Hedge, but I don’t believe this is anything but a massive hype, the kind humans are susceptible to.

    Reply
    1. paul

      ‘Big data’ has run in front run of analysis, let alone ‘Big Aanalysis’.

      Click metrics

      Remove the ‘big’ and keep the nouns.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      You may choose to think it is a massive hype, but you may end up infected and sorry if you fail to practice some modicum of safe handwashing and safe airgapping between your body and the bodies of others, and etc.

      But, that is ultimately up to you.

      Reply
  4. Brooklin Bridge

    Bezos deserves a special entry in Webster’s Dictionary.

    Disgusting, vile and corrupt come to mind, but hardly do him justice. Best left to professional word smiths with stand-by medical assistance.

    Reply
    1. Billy

      “Theft Bezoar” might be an appropriate nickname for Jeff Bezos?

      “Chewing on or eating hair or fuzzy materials can lead to the formation of a bezoar.

      Reply
    1. Billy

      Better yet, encourage homeless people to dine in the stores. In California, anything less than $950 is a misdemeanor.
      Barrels are placed at the entrance to our local Asswhole Foods, “to help feed the homeless.”
      We slip the most expensive and nutritious canned goods we can find on the shelves into those barrels—without paying for them.
      Just another way to make up for Amazon paying zero income taxes.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or take homeless people to the Whole Foods stores and give them enough money to go in and buy some food and eat it in there, at there leisure and having a good time.

        Would that scare away the regular clientele?

        Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    If asked to help out with his employees during the Coronavirus epidemic, Bezos aka Dr. Evil, would probably reply-

    “Hey, I didn’t get wealthy giving my money away!”

    Reply
  6. jhallc

    This may sound like I’m defending Bezos, I’m not, but when I worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we had the exact same thing as an voluntary option. For 1 sick day a year donation you were in the pool and if you got really sick and blew through all your allocated sick days and vacation time you could access the pool. It seemed to me like an “worker collective” insurance policy. I had friends at work who needed to use the pool due to cancer treatments or other issues. Of course we had generous sick leave benefits to begin with and often accrued weeks of sick time that would never be used under ordinary circumstances. I’m sure Amazon is not so generous with its sick time benefits, if they were, they would likely not need to do this in the first place or people would be more willing to give up a day for a fellow worker.

    Reply
    1. JohnMc

      i had the same situation as a state employee in MD…and at one point donated leave to an employee who on extended leave with cancer.

      i think the source of conflict is the attitude towards how ‘sick leave’ is to be used. some people thought of it as something to be used only for true sickness and the allotted amount was to be banked in the event of an extended illness. others thought of it as another form of vacation leave and used it as soon as they accrued it, leaving themselves with nothing in the event of a long leave.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Most of us who DO have “days off” no longer have discretely separated sick days as against vacation days. It is all the same kind of days, called Payed Time Off days, and the days you give to someone to be sick with are the days you don’t have to be sick with OR go on vacation with.

        It could be worker solidarity among small poor companies. But it is simply letting MackeyBezos off the hook in this case.

        Reply
    2. QuarterBack

      The difference though is the Commonwealth payroll comes from public funds, which would require a slow moving legislative process to incorporate into the official employee benefits. Many Federal and state agencies have similar policies for employee donations. The difference here is the money needed to fund a one time emergency benefit to all Bezos employees would be so small that it would almost require a microscope to find inside Bezos’s wallet. Every billionaire I know has the Scrooge McDuck gene in their DNA. You really can’t amass (or retain) such wealth without it. Nature of the beast (pun intended).

      Reply
      1. Fritzi

        Scrooge McDuck as presented by Carl Barks was an idealized mega capitalist with a sense of honor and personal ethics that no real life billionaire shares.

        Bezos is closer to a character like Flintheart Clomgold, he would be a villain in a classic Scrooge story.

        Of course, Scrooge is about as far from real billionaires as Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are, even if in a different way.

        Though, if we saw either of them behave like Bezos in some future superhero trash movie, I’d see something of relevance for once in that abysmal genre.

        Reply
    3. Anonymous

      Had they pursued this line of reasoning at some time other than amidst the crisis, it would seem merely greedy, and not as predatory.

      Reply
    4. jhallc

      Yes, the optics on this are terrible. If Bezos had given everyone an extra week of sick time to use this year with the option to put a day into a collective sick time bank it would have gone over a lot better in my opinion and maybe even given the employees the impression he gave a S**t.

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      Logically, any employee that dies of Coronavirus should have any unused sick days added to this pool as well.

      Reply
    6. chuck roast

      I got offered a job by The Commonwealth about 20 years ago. Their retirement benefits consisted entirely of a forced savings plan with no state match and living in Boston on $50K/yr. No thank you.

      Reply
    7. JCC

      The problem is that Leave/Vacation is carried on Corporate books as a liability. The more it is reduced, the better for the company’s bottom line. So Amazon is not the only company doing this sort of thing. The Federal Govt and all the contracting companies here where I work do the exact same thing.

      In fact, many contracting companies as well as the DoD here have already announced the same policy.

      So what now, do we boycott the Federal Govt, Jacobs Engineering, Booze Allen and the rest?

      I’m in, just give me a clue as to how to go about doing that. Obviously voting hasn’t worked.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        We can’t boycott them all. But we can certainly boycott the Bezos. That is a level of choice we still have.

        Reply
    8. Laughingsong

      Same thing right now in the county where I work as well (donating time off to those who had run out and would suffer hardship from lost wages).

      And just this week our county admin sent out an email saying that they were waiving the requirement that employees use all their time off before they can apply for leave without pay. Like that was a generous thing; the lions share of county employees live paycheck to paycheck and can’t possibly take up this “generous offer”.

      Our governor closed all K-12 schools until April so many parents are now in a no-win situation. Although telework and expanded paid sick leave were mentioned in the recommendations to employers, there were also silly recommendations like trying to have employees sit further apart or stagger shifts.

      Reply
    9. Bonnylark

      People donated to me when I was working while fighting cancer. I had to use up my own sick leave and vacation time first, pretty much used up recovering from abdominal surgery. A few hours each from several people got me through having to cut my hours and limit what I could do, until I finally had to leave on disability. This is different. Anyone can need those hours at any time to stay home themselves during this pandemic. Bezos could easily afford to cover this unusual time. If everyone donates their sick leave for this virus, besides jeopardizing their own financial well-being, there will be nothing available for those who come down with catastrophic illnesses or injuries that leave them unable to work for weeks or months.

      Reply
    10. lordkoos

      The point is, while that type of pool may work OK for people occasionally getting ill, this is a pandemic, not some random cold or flu. It’s totally inappropriate for what we are facing.

      Reply
  7. Max

    We stopped using Amazon many years ago, and cut out our occasional trip to Whole Foods when it was acquired by Amazon. I am glad that Jeff Bezos manages to justify my smugness about that decision on a continual basis.

    Reply
  8. Rob Dunford

    One absolute fact about Covid19, it knows no boundaries and it has no favourites. It can just as easily infect Bezos or your local shopkeeper. The only difference being that Bezos can get the best treatment, but even the best treatment can fail faced with a viral pneumonia like this.

    Reply
  9. peter cerbone jr

    I am not looking to let Bezos off the hook, but is he even aware of what John Mackey is doing at Whole Foods? Unless I am mistaken, Mackey is the corporate cutthroat that gobbled up Fresh Fields, Alfalfas, and Wild Oats beginning in the 1990s. How about it Mr Bezos give, wealth small-fry compared to you, Mackey the heave-ho and live up to some decency for all AMAZON workers in these dangerous times.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      Unless I am mistaken, Mackey is the corporate cutthroat that gobbled up Fresh Fields, Alfalfas, and Wild Oats beginning in the 1990s.

      A match made in heaven.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I almos’ betcha that Bezos knows all this in detail. And approves of it. After all, Mackey was part of what Bezos bought when he bought Whole Foods. Mackey was part of what Bezos bought it FOR. The other part being the surveillance opportunities and the valuable real estate footprint.

      Bezos likes the cut of Mackey’s jib.

      Reply
      1. EoH

        Exactly.

        Quality and resilience – less outsourcing; more know-how, people, and money; more robust and better funded suppliers – were once considered desirable. Those qualities have been relegated to the status of “inefficiencies,” which must be excised in pursuit of immediate profit. The US is about to get a close look at how those priorities have hollowed out its health care infrastructure and many other businesses.

        Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        How many of the complaining customers still shop at Whole Foods in order to be seen shopping at Whole Foods? In order to preserve their fond self-image as a better and more caring class of people?

        Reply
  10. SlayTheSmaugs

    I am really happy to see the word “greed” increasingly used with adjectives like “grotesque”; the moral fabric of our country is slowly mending. We are healing the damage done by the oligarchs.

    I believe (hope?) the healing will accelerate through the shared Covid crisis,and then we can bring the policy whirlwind. I hope it involves jail cells, not guillotines, for those on top. May we bring it swiftly, and thoroughly.

    Reply
  11. Barbara

    Private flights to get away from the hoi polloi, hunkering down in an underground hideaway, and now the grtotesque Jeff Bezos – all of this makes me think of An Appointment in Samarra.

    Reply
    1. Alfred

      And what a superbly told story that is — Appointment in Samarra. Thanks for mentioning it, especially in coincidence with the comment of Rob Dunford above, which restates its underlying theme.

      Reply
  12. Bob Hertz

    I doubt that Bezos has any day to day involvement in the operation of Whole Foods.

    This is repulsive but focus on Whole Foods management.

    Reply
    1. John

      Bezos, or at least Amazon, has involvement.
      It is widely known that the Whole Foods stores in New York City had NYC police stationed inside of them for months while the whole Amazon headquarters debacle played out. Whole Foods paid them to be there guarding their private property wearing NYC police uniforms.

      Reply
      1. ObjectiveFunction

        The duke cannot deny the course of law:
        For the commodity that strangers have
        With us in Venice, if it be denied,
        Will much impeach the justice of his state;
        Since that the trade and profit of the city
        Consisteth of all nations

        Reply
    2. tegnost

      A control freak like bezos is definitely involved in this. You’re kidding yourself. It’s a long way to a trillion dollars and he wants to be the first, type “A” and all. (old joke, hmmm…I wonder what the “A” stands for?)

      Reply
      1. kiwi

        Yes, greedy people like him know where every single penny is spent and have figured out how to game everything in their favor.

        Reply
    3. EoH

      Bezos may have little day-to-day involvement with Whole Foods, but he agrees with Dick Cheney that staffing is policy. He would have hired or approved the hiring of Whole Foods’ senior managers, the objectives by which their performance is measured, and the role Whole Foods was to play in his overall game plan. Nothing this visible, with its inevitable impact on his reputation, would not have his approval.

      Reply
  13. anon

    I’ve started going to Trader Joe’s and local retailers more than Whole Foods. I may end going there altogether now. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus will make that snake Bezos even wealthier because more people will choose to order from Amazon rather than going out for shopping.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      true, but those amazon packages are delivered by uninsured gig workers so that’s a nice transmission vector.

      Reply
  14. Mark K

    From Yves’ introduction: “And stop using Amazon, or if you must (like you are in a retail desert), cut way back.”

    I have found that I virtually never must use Amazon. When I want or need to buy something online I do an online search for the product itself with “-Amazon” in the search statement. Then I scroll down through the results until I find what looks like a Mom and Pop retailer and buy from them. Occsaionally I buy from one of the other large retailers with an online presence.

    Amazon need not be synonymous with online shopping.

    Reply
    1. John

      Haven’t used Amazon for years. And only used it a few times before that.

      Very easy to avoid using them.

      And isn’t CEO John Mackey the guy who started Whole Foods?
      If so, shame on him.

      Reply
    2. skk

      I never search on Amazon first but on Google. Even though Amazon buys up the above the line – ad words – paid for – search display spots and the side bar ads I get to see alternatives. For the stuff I buy – newegg, Bestbuy (!), walmart, hell once even B&H have proved cheaper or the same or slightly more expensive.

      Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, at least Wal Mart isn’t Amazon.

          We work in the dark, we do what we can.

          You could take the 3rd step and find someone even beyond Wal Mart to buy something from.
          It is still possible. And the more people who do so, the longer it will remain still possible.

          Reply
    3. lordkoos

      Living in a small town, I do a lot of shopping online — clothes, household items, replacement parts, all kinds of stuff. I have found ebay to be far better than Amazon in almost all respects: lower prices, delivery is often much faster, and you get a lot of individual attention if you need it, especially when buying from individuals or small companies.

      Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Or decide whose office to get revenge on by going there and spreading coronavirus around.

      And don’t think some rage-filled hate-filled written-off go-home-and-die cases won’t do exactly that. There may even emerge into the language a phrase for that. Something like ” going Typhoid-Mary Postal.”

      Reply
  15. skk

    “Runaway capitalism is when Whole Foods suggest…”

    Though Marx argues that its not some aberrant variant of capitalism but capitalism itself. And that even Bezos is trapped in it. Incidentally, I went to revisit David Harvey’s “Reading Capital Vol 1” set of videos, first delivered in 2007 yesterday. He’s got a whole new set of vids published in 2019. He’s older – now he sits down – but the graphics and diagrams are welcome additions.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And constant cycles of trust-busting and monopoly-breaking could keep “capitalism” at a dynamically pre-climax state . . . . just like controlled Indian burning of the prairie and the open oak savannah.

      And the terminal stage of Capitalism . . . . Marxitis-Leningitis . . . need never take hold at all.

      Reply
  16. tegnost

    Hmmm… john mackey…

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/01/04/food-fighter

    FTA”The health-care op-ed’s headline, “the whole foods alternative to obamacare,” was the Journal’s, Mackey says, but the sentiments were his. Mackey’s prescriptions ranged from the obvious (people need to eat better) to the market-minded (promote interstate competition among insurers) to the dreamy (the corporations will take care of us). The gist was that, together, they’d obviate the need for a federal plan, and that the course being pursued by the White House and the Democrats would have disastrous consequences. He led with an epigram attributed to Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.””

    That’s right, he doesn’t even like o care, but truth be told he was probably “at the table” during negotiations, unlike any single payer/M4A supporters, so now we can presume to know why the ACA sucks so bad. Article is from 2010. Funny that in the first three google pages, I stopped earching there, no mention of this current story. Google. We’ll tell you what we want you to know.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      I’ll add that the problem with capitalism is eventually you take everyone else’s money. But in one you take rich peoples money, supposedly, and in the other you take from people who don’t have enough to live on. Sociopaths.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The problem with capitalism is that eventually you run out of other people’s air, water, food, land, etc.

      Reply
    3. Philip Hardy

      “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”. This statement only needs one word change, exchange Capitalism for Socialism. The exponential function built into todays Usury (banks printing debt/money but not the interest payments) means Capitalism will fail when its runs out of other peoples money to pay the interest on its debts. In 2008 in ran out of other peoples money, but was bailed out by central banks and governments printing even more money. Will they be able to do that again? Or have the Capitalists truly run out of other peoples money?

      Reply
  17. Michael Fiorillo

    Mackey has been a nasty piece of work and Whole Foods worthy of avoiding/boycotting for years, long before Bezos bought it.

    This disaster might be our opportunity to start making them both pay for their viciousness and greed.

    Reply
  18. notabanktoadie

    We have an unjust finance system so it should be no surprise that it unjustly concentrates wealth and power in the hands of the ruthless.

    But who wants a just finance system when it would deprive elites from Left to Right of the ability to lord it over everyone else?

    Reply
  19. BoulderMike

    My wife and I shopped at Whole Foods since their first store in Austin. They, and even horrible Macky, did something good for natural foods consumers in making products more available and less expensive (at least initially on the expense part). But, they eventually became a corportate greed parasite. We had reduced our shopping at the local Whole Foods to just a handfull of “365” store brand products over time. When Amazon bought WF we stopped completely and never looked back. We wouldn’t even go back there if Amazon sold it. There are so many alternatives now like Trader Joes, Natural Foods (Vitamin Cottage), Big grocer store brands like Kroger has, etc. At the same time we stopped Amazon completely. We see their “d*ck” vans constantly in our neighborhood though, and they are completely inefficiently routed. I can’t understand why anyone wants to continue to give Bezos business, and to help him get richer. He is literally the textbook definition of a horrible human being.
    As to people in remote areas, you can still order online for home delivery from any online vendor that will ship vis USPS, UPS, or FedEx.
    Please everyone stop giving Amazon any business. And, finally, search is nothing but an Amazon advertisement these days.

    Reply
  20. Amfortas the hippie

    this is how they do it at the ISD where wife works.
    we wouldn’t have gotten through the Year From Hell without it.
    especially the teachers expecting to retire soon who have many unused “days” of paid sick leave.
    Superintendent turned the dials of the machinery to enable it.
    would be much better if it were universal and not stingy.
    “have they no work houses?”- Ebenezer Scrooge

    Reply
  21. evodevo

    Uh… the Post Office has been doing this for years during “normal” times…there is still a poster up in my office entreating us to donate sick leave time to others in need (not that management lets you use it lol – one of my co-workers had the temerity to take off 3 days because of severe ear pain last month, and they gave her a written reprimand for doing so) – the PO went “corporate” many, many years ago…

    Reply
    1. EoH

      As was said above, sharing sick time is a reasonable workaround for corporate greed in normal times. (Even though the US has the least paid sick time of any major industrialized country, management still considers “sharing” to be a beneficence given to employees.) But sharing sick time is wholly inadequate in response to a systemic problem, such as a pandemic. Insisting on its use only better illustrates the greed and the need to rein it in.

      Reply
  22. griffen

    Why is it that Fight Club looks more prediction of the future than just satirical send up of consumerism.

    Bezos and that ilk remind of the parasirical Weyland Corporation of the Alien films. Fear the creature that looks like a human I guess.

    Reply
  23. Noone in Nowheresville

    On a certain level, we deserve to have a hard hard wake up call. But I doubt that even this pandemic will work. Maybe if the right someone on the right channel actually spoke the truth. Again only maybe. No doubt a new show would come on to make them forget.

    My guess is that this pandemic will be ridden out by the few like the wife of the firefighter in Fahrenheit 451. If only these people had a wall of screens, they’d be perfectly happy watching reality tv unfold around them.

    Note: I do use occasionally Amazon

    Me: We really gotta stop using Amazon. What a freaking a$$hole the richest man in the world is.

    Long-distance Friend: I don’t care. Trump hates him. Amazon is my window to stuff.

    If Trump hates him then he’s a friend of mine.

    Me: Trump doesn’t hate Bezos. Rivals perhaps. Part of the show.

    Funny you didn’t even ask me or let me tell you what Bezos did.

    Friend: Of course Trump hates Bezos. He owns the newspaper which prints ‘stuff’ that doesn’t praise the orange ‘dear leader’ to high heaven as he demands.

    And I’m not gonna stop using Amazon. I don’t care who owns it.

    Me: Maybe you should quarantine your Amazon deliveries in the garage before opening.

    Friend: Quarantine?!?! You expect me to leave the boxes in the garage for two weeks before opening them?

    Not for 2 days. Not for 2 hours.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Uhhh, the wife of the firefighter in “Fahrenheit 451” died when the city was nuked by bombers in a flash war – probably still watching her wall of screens.

      Reply
  24. Dick Swenson

    Is greediness pecuiar to capitalism, or is it a common human charactersitic? Or maybe it is a common “primate” characteristic. ????

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It is probably present in some humans down through time and space. But capitalism force-multiplies its reach and power.

      (So does communism, but the currency of communism is pure power, not money. The power to have someone Gulagged, etc.)

      Reply
  25. Larry Motuz

    Let me blame the economic orthodoxy for this nonsense. In it, the ‘rationality’ of the Grasshopper –subjective of course– is not to be faulted.
    Whereas the Greeks praised the rationality of the ants –rationality being planning to avoid the worst outcomes and perhaps have the best ones– economic models do not look at rationality as forward planning for the best outcomes. By ignoring all objective benefits from the consumption of ‘goods’ (read FROM USE AND HOW GOODS ARE USED), orthodox economists have identified ‘madness’ as ‘rational’.

    Reply
    1. notabanktoadie

      Equity financed businesses can afford to behave rationality while debt financed businesses have to pay the interest as well as compete with other businesses while doing so. This leads to a short term focus and desperate (at least in aggregate) risk-taking.

      So much then for the rational argument for government privileges for private credit creation since those favor debt over equity financing.

      (Or as someone said, “Look at the incentives …”)?

      Reply
  26. Tom Bradford

    How extraordinary. Out here in not-America if you don’t need sick leave you don’t get it. If you do need it you get as much as you need.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps if you out there in not-America could create a Radio Free America to get word of this fact by radio into the radios of Flyover Americans in Flyover Country . . . . over the years to come, something might happen.

      Reply
  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have been informed in prior threads that some people buy from Amazon because they have no choice otherwise.

    But that is not true for the Whole Foods subset of Amazon. Any community rich enough to have a Whole Foods is also rich enough to have other stores. That means that any and every person who buys something from Whole Foods is supporting this behavior by Whole Foods. If the entire Whole Foods customer base. . . each and every one . . . . were to transfer ALL their bussiness to other food store companies, then Whole Foods would be driven extinct, as it deserves. The transfer of ALL its bussiness to the other stores in ALL its regions would fund up all those other stores to at least be able to hire SOME of the now-thankfully-exterminated-WholeFoods’s disemployed workers.

    Reply
  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    I just saw Kamelia Lng’s ( or however you spell that) tweet up above about how if she were a billionaire she would hire away every Whole Foods worker for some months at twice their current pay . . . to deprive Whole Foods of their work and service.

    This sounds like a creative idea, actually. Could every single other player in the Food Store industry somehow get together to create a vast huge “hire-them-away” fund to hire every Whole Foods worker for as many years as it takes to exterminate Whole Foods from existence and wipe Whole Foods off the face of the earth? If the Whole Foods workers were being “hired away” to do no work at all – – just promise not to do any work of any kind for any part of Amazon – – they might even accept the “job” at the “same” pay as they got at Whole Foods. That would allow the Hire Them Away project to keep them off the Whole Foods job for twice as long.

    Reply
  29. barrisj

    Boycott WF…I get that Bezos is an archetypical Dickensian exploiter, along with his caddie, John Mackey, but if people really take the boycott business seriously those who will immediately suffer will be the “shop floor” workers. Hours cut back, staff layoffs, double-duties for those still employed, perhaps even (temporary?) store closures..so who exactly is suffering? Not Bezos or Mackey, not by a long chalk. Even the best intentions have unwanted consequences.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If ALL the bussiness that Whole Foods does is transferred to other stores in the same general area as each Whole Foods, the increase in bussiness at those other stores will force the hiring of some if not all of the de-jobbed Whole Foods front-line workers.

      If people discovered that some “other markets” were hiring MORE of the displaced WF workers than OTHER ” other markets”, people could direct their bussiness to those ” other markets” most willing to hire
      let-go WF workers to go along with all the gained ” flight from WF” business.

      “What about the workers” also applies to the coal , gas and oil industry. If we all cut our use of coal gas and oil in half, some of those workers will lose their jobs. Is that a reason to avoid cutting our use of coal, gas and oil in half? Some say yes, I say no.

      Exterminate Whole Foods. Buy from No Bezos Foods instead. And hope some of the workers transfer over.

      Reply
    2. Merf56@gmail.com

      If you want to help the WF workers and all exploited workers, a strong lengthy boycott is really the only way with the laws we have now. One is not helping them by continuing to buy from exploiters. You are just keeping them tied to their abusers.

      Reply
  30. Quentin

    Maybe it’s a ploy to keep workers divided? People will be hesitant about donating their leaves during such an uncertain time. This may sow confusion and resentment amongst the employees against each other and hence divide them. Divide and rule!

    Reply
  31. Merf56

    I suppose Mr Big is locked up tight in his new mansion bunker with his new main squeeze to wait out the pandemic and count his money but I openly and frankly Iook forward for the day some demented lunatic with nothing to lose manages to find him… one whose pitchfork is nicely sharpened…

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Let us fervently hope that someone figures out how to drop some live and active coronavirus down his air vent.

      Surely the intelligent amateur mad scientist can figure out how to do that with exploding test tubes and small drones . . . small enough to dive down an air vent.

      Infect the Bezos inside its death star.

      Reply
  32. dimitris

    A routine that has worked for ~ 13 years now for me has been: Showroom the Bezos Emporium (reviews, with caveats, can still be valuable), then shop elsewhere online or local b&m. Most retailers either already match/beat amazon, or will price-match amazon anyway.

    So thanks, Jeff, for the free display case!

    Reply

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