By Samir Shukla
Man, Jeff Bezos sure knows how to pull off cons. Bezos is of course CEO of Amazon and for the past year or more Amazon has been pursuing a location for their second headquarters, HQ2, if you will. Over 200 cities originally put in applications and 20 were selected as finalists. Amazon wound up picking two locations that will split its second headquarters - Long Island City, NY and Arlington, VA.
Both areas already have some of the highest numbers of Amazon employees outside of Seattle, its home base and the Bay Area. So, the big announcement about the final picks was anticlimactic. My astute guess is that Bezos already knew he was going to select these two locations as it makes sense to beef up their existing workforce.
It was never going to be Raleigh or Nashville or wherever. Amazon had cities and states salivating at the idea of a major company pulling into their area and creating thousands of jobs. Cities put together proposals and sent Amazon massive amounts of valuable data, absolutely free, that the company will now use to sell more trinkets online. Amazon extracted some 1.5 billion dollars' worth of concessions and tax breaks from New York alone. Hey, New Yorkers, Amazon needs you more than you need Amazon.
Folks, this was all about free publicity, free data mining, and getting cities to cough up massive tax breaks and incentive packages as they try and land Amazon. I call it the Great Amazon Con. I'm betting Amazon had already decided on these two locations months earlier, or even before they announced they were seeking HQ2. Amazon received tens of millions of dollars of free publicity with the ploy. They received vast caches of valuable data given up freely by cities.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. How do you know this? Ok, admittedly I don't have proof that they would have picked these two locations anyway. But anyone with the capacity to see through the hype can spot the con a mile away. If not, I've got a NY bridge to sell you. Cheap. You see it connects these two boroughs…oh, never mind.
Amazon didn't become a dominant company by luck. Bezos is clearly a marketing genius with the foresight to see the advantages of changes in technology and buying habits years before most. Amazon has become a behemoth that doesn't need tax breaks. It can buy some of the smaller cities that were vying for its HQ2.
Small businesses and startups struggle to raise funds, get tax breaks, yet Amazon can just belch and cities will line up to give them money.
Amazon recently announced they would pay $15 per hour to employees. This was no charity on their part, you can thank Bernie Sanders for putting the pressure on them. Of course, the positive effect of this will be that many other companies will announce better, living wages if only as a PR move.
By Samir Shukla
There are no magic wands to eliminate the scourge of sexual or physical assaults. There is, though, a one-word marker associated with most violence, assaults, wars, and self-destruction. That word is testosterone. Let's face it, the prime instigators of violence of all sorts is the male gender. Males are responsible for 95 percent (my educated guess, but I'm sure it's close to that figure) of the violence, assaults, and domestic abuse around the world. Period. This is not an attack on my own gender. I'm simply stating reality.
The recent circus surrounding Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh's alleged assault is almost beside the question. Who you believed in the “she said, he said" drama is beside the question. Maybe one day we will know the truth of that specific matter. The dilemma of assaults and harassment goes deeper. It must be dealt with from this day forward. The reality is that males assault girls and women. Males also assault boys and other men. Males kill children, women, and men at a much larger percentage then women doing the same. This is the sad truth of my gender, which is largely codified by testosterone.
What can be done to tame this testosterone? Growing solid, ethical men from boys, able to restrain their testosterone-fueled aggression is the call of the time. Of course not all men and boys are violent, but even the most respected and seemingly stable males can have hidden, suppressed violence in them.
I have never assaulted a female or another male, but my testosterone is an invisible devil. It tests my restraint daily. We teach our sons values and morals, but the fuel of testosterone can test even the most restrained man. It's also a biological fact that most males remain prisoners of sexual imagination all their lives. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge to quick glances at attractive women while swirls of sensuous thoughts invade my brain, even for the briefest moment. This has been going on since the onset of puberty and will continue. I would never physically act on those, outside of consent, but the flickers of thought do appear and pass. Sexual assaults aren't about pleasure; they are about aggression and power over a weaker individual.
Many can't contain and quarantine aggression in their minds, and, sometimes with the assistance of alcohol, aggression or violence can rear its ugly head. Fists clench so easily, but clapping them open requires an ability to channel an immediate calm. It's not easy.
We must continue to teach our sons that no means no. We must teach our daughters the steadfast power of self-worth and dignity. They must protest and speak up if harassed or assaulted. It's that simple. This doesn't have to mean the death of romance or the death of boy chasing girl, the death of love or even sensuality. It is simply about consent. Mutual pleasure and lifelong intimacy need not be victims of social realignments and moral improvements.
We have plenty of laws against assault and violence. Moral conduct and societal norms are supposed to help neutralize some of this violence. But males do it anyway. Males also assault and kill in the name of religion; this is the most offensive weakness of all. Females are no less corruptible to the seduction of power and money, but they are surely less corruptible to the seduction of violence. Women and girls around the world are coming forward with their accounts of harassment or assault, and that's a good thing. In lands of laws, these can be worked out judiciously, in public forums and courts. Any claims can be adjudicated, and punished or rejected as judged. There are a record number of women running for office during this mid-term election. That's a good thing. Some of that is due to amoral leaders as well as aggregation of grievances.
One part of a long-term solution may be in assault education, which can be taught alongside sex education or as standalone. Assault education can be taught, say, every two years as boys grow into men, starting in middle school, but maybe as early as elementary school. This can be done with properly coordinated programs by inviting assault victims to come and tell their stories, which can bring to life the emotional and physical toll of assaults. It just may add a sense of pause in young boys', and later men's, minds. It may increase aggression control, a tool to fetch when moments of aggression emerge, especially when unleashed with the assist of alcohol, and help them take a breath and a step back. Much future violence may be then reduced.
We will never have a world 100 percent free of violence, crime, and corruption. Mothers, fathers, mentors, guardians, gurus, teachers, family members, and friends can work cohesively to minimize those destructive ills.