Paying for his success

During the just past holiday season, The Maui News ran an aggressive shop-at-home campaign urging our readers to forego internet shopping and patronize local stores.

The “Save Our Stores” movement pointed out that our local brick-and-mortar stores employ our friends and neighbors and support our nonprofits, schools and youth sports. They also pay a significant portion of our property taxes.

Some readers accused us of being alarmists. Perhaps, but one of the things we are most certain of is that local merchants and professionals make this newspaper possible.

We were, therefore, disheartened to learn earlier this week that Jeff Bezos, founder and majority stockholder of Amazon, is now the richest person in history. According to a story in CNN Money, Forbes pegged Bezos’ net worth Monday at $104.4 billion. Bloomberg put it even higher — $105.1 billion.

Poor old Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and former No. 1, is worth a measly $91.9 billion.

To get back to Bezos, though, Amazon’s stock rose at the unearthly rate of 56 percent in 2017. It is already up another 7 percent in the first week of this year.

Bezos owns 78.9 million shares of Amazon. On this Monday alone, when Amazon’s shares rose 1.4 percent, it added $1.4 billion to Bezos’ net worth — in one day!

Our point is simply this — Amazon’s explosive growth is coming out of the hides of local merchants. Do we really want to see a day when our retail spaces are ghost towns? How many jobs will be lost here because it is so easy to just click and order online?

Jeff Bezos obviously had a great idea. But the worldwide monopoly he is building is going to crush communities.

Take the time to think about your neighbors. Then, if they have the product you want, buy it from them.

Protecting their livelihood will protect your own.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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