‘Tide turning on Amazon’? Yes, but …

To the editor:

The editorial in this weekend’s paper (Feb. 16) repeats two common misconceptions about the now-defunct Amazon deal. First, Amazon itself did not “lead the vanguard that has smashed brick-and-mortar retail stores” in our state. That act of civic vandalism was and is performed by every consumer who routinely buys a book on Amazon because it’s 25 percent cheaper than buying it in Lake Placid or Saranac Lake. Or who reads news for free online rather than subscribing to, say, the Enterprise. Everyone has their must-have items, bought online, that can also be found in town. But we go with cheap, even when it means our store-owner neighbor faces a destitute future, because we are part of a culture of puerile consumerism that respects nothing but novelty.

The second error is in the last paragraph, where it is said that “the $3 billion New York would have given to Amazon can be used to upgrade …” This is a flat-out misrepresentation of mathematical fact. The $3 billion was a tax incentive, not a handout of state funds. If Amazon was operating its HQ, it would have gotten $3 billion in tax breaks over the course of some years. In two decades, it was expected to bring in $24 billion in taxes. Hence, the $3 billion will never be seen because it was money that Amazon would have owed, but will now not owe, to New York state.

It may or may not have been wise to chase that behemoth out of New York City, but let’s be sure we’re honest and certain of the terms of the debate.

Emmett Hoops

Saranac Lake