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by Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy
Democracy Works

How Amazon is disrupting democracy


As we've said many times on this show, democracy is long and slow, which is the exact opposite of the ethos that Amazon has pushed into our culture through quick shipping, easily accessible entertainment, its takeover of cloud computing, and more.

Amazon's expansion across America, from distribution facilities to data centers, is exacerbating regional inequities and contributing to the unraveling of America's social fabric. Not only that, cities competing for Amazon's new facilities offer tax breaks that prevent funding from going to basic government services. And, the company's takeover of government procurement has taken lucrative contracts away from local businesses.

Alec MacGillis, a senior reporter at ProPublica, chronicles these trends in new book Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. The book chronicles how Amazon contributed to the gap between the country’s winning and losing regions, and how its workplace practices foster isolation and competition, rather than camaraderie and shared goals.

Was Amazon deliberately trying to undermine democracy? Or using the existing system to its benefit? We talk with MacGillis about founder Jeff Bezos's political philosophy and how it's impacted the company's decision-making over the years. We also discuss what we as democratic citizens can do to push back against some of these forces.

Additional Information

Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America

Alec MacGillis on Twitter

Alec's website

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Episode 188

by Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy