How Amazon’s Giant Glass Spheres Embody the Excess and Exploitation of the New Gilded Age (photos)

by Scott Creighton

One week from tomorrow, Jeff Bezos (arguably the wealthiest human in history) will feature himself prominently in a new commercial aired during the Super Bowl in an effort to promote/sell his home surveillance system called Alexa. Jeff and the Deep State of Big Business would love for you to put one of these listening devices in every room of your home (Walmart is practically giving them away to their income-challenged shoppers), including your children’s berdooms, so every sound and every action can be recorded, analyzed, processed and monetized into The Internet of Things for future use. The fact that Bezos and Amazon received a $600 million contract from the CIA to build and operate a massive storage facility so they can house all the info they steal from your home shouldn’t be a problem for you, right? Nor should congress approving a Defense Department budget that includes a $53 BILLION dollar deal to make Amazon the sole provider (and purchasing agent) of office provisions and other sundry items for the entire Department of Defense.

Techies are beside themselves swooning in anticipation of the opportunity to see their new John Galt in a commercial pushing his home intrusion product himself. Alexa is so damn hip after all, it’s like having your best Starbucks buddy right there with you every day of the week. Only this one always knows what too say… and what NOT to.

screenshot of Lord God King Bezos “acting”

As it turns out, one week prior to his thespian debut, Bezos is rolling out another reveal for the world: his new giant glass balls. And, once again, the techies are swooning:

“Three years ago, Amazon.com Inc.‘s horticulturalist was giving Jeff Bezos a preview of what the company’s three plant-filled spheres—the centerpiece of its $4 billion downtown Seattle office project—would look like on opening day.

One rendering showed the view from a 30-foot-high suspension bridge looking down on a tree. The next showed the same tree as it would look five years later, branches stretching high above the bridge to form a canopy, giving Amazonians the feeling of walking through a rainforest

The online retailer is scheduled to unveil the spheres Monday morning following seven years of planning and construction. The glass orbs were built to let Amazon workers escape from emails, meetings, reports and deadlines to walk along stone paths beside waterfalls, let ferns from South America brush their shoulders and the moist, tropical air fill their lungs.” Spenser Soper

The giant glass spheres are located in Seattle attached to Amazon’s corporate headquarters and the sole purpose of them, aside from being a pompous display of wealth and power, is to give their corporate employees a place to relax during the work day. Well, give them a place to relax and at the same time feel privileged, special, unique and … entitled.

exterior

interior

tree house

wonder

The design is beautiful. It is calming. Relaxing. It has multiple interior climate zones so that Amazon’s workers can and will naturally migrate to areas within the 5-story structure where feel most comfortable.

The furnishings are designed for comfort and look like they would be more at home on a luxury liner than they would in what amounts to the world’s most expensive break-room EVER.

nap?

It is a lovingly crafted and designed environment in every sense of the words. They even brought in a 55-foot tall tree… and gave it a name.

Rubi

It is their own little cynical bit of the Amazon Rain Forest, corporatized and sanitized for their employee’s amusement. Apparently the irony of using the depleted and harvested Rain Forest as a symbol of their corporate concern for humanity escaped the planners of this thing.

Or maybe it didn’t.

In spite of Jeff Bezos’ best rebranding efforts with his hip Superbowl commercial and this god-awful, over-indulgent, narcissistic “we care about our employees” Green-Zone Snow-Globe vanity lawn furnishing, the fact is, Amazon has become something of a monster in the eyes of the world today. Especially for those of us paying attention.

Lets forget for a second that President Trump has made his opinions pretty clear on the subject. Let’s forget Bezos used some CIA money to purchase the Washington Post, which has been practically a CIA subsidiary for decades.

Lets also forget that Amazon was erasing bad reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book and all the money the techies from the company poured into her campaign last year.

Let’s forget Bezos’ Post has been waging a war against Trump and his working class supporters on behalf of the Deep State for well over two years, demonizing them racists, bigots and morons.

Put all of that behind you and just… observe (this is how Amazon can afford to treat CERTAIN employees this way):

“Bone-weary workers reportedly have just nine seconds to process a package during the long-hours at the online store warehouse, with a Mirror investigation claiming employees are suffering panic attacks as they struggle to keep up with demand.” source

nap for the workers of Amazon

lucky to have a bucket and a rubber mat, no time to walk to break area

Alone in a locked metal cage, 10 feet from my nearest colleague, a robot approaches from the shadows and thrusts a tower of shelves towards me.

I have nine seconds to grab and process an item to be sent for packing – a target of 300 items an hour, for hour after relentless hour.

As I bend to the floor then reach high above my head to fulfill a never-ending stream of orders, my body screams at me.

Welcome to Amazon’s picking floor. Here, while cameras watch my every move, a screen in front of me offers constant reminders of my “units per hour” and exactly how long each has taken.” source

the robots and their shelves

While no expense is spared for some, others aren’t considered so unique, so special, so entitled to feel the ferns of the rain forest brushing on their shoulders as they amber through the rock paths of Bezos’ crystal balls… on company time.

For the unfortunate many, even the necessities aren’t really necessary in Bezos’ corporate model.

don’t take too long

From the beginning of the nightmarish workday throughout it’s overlong duration in a warehouse with no climate control and no frills, employees are told in no uncertain terms that their concerns aren’t even secondary… and that they are being watched… and treated… like criminals.

prison-like entrance to a “fulfillment” center

like criminals on the street you are being watched and recorded

 

A former warehouse employee in Seattle told The Guardian in 2014 that she would rather be homeless than work for Amazon because of the demanding workload. The homeless woman said she slid onto the streets shortly after Amazon began sending employees home without pay to cut costs

Ambulances reportedly waited in the parking lot to treat employees who fainted while working in 114-degree heat at a Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, warehouse in 2010.” source

Amazon health plan for the mud people. notice the doors to the entrance of the fulfillment center?

Of course, someone has to offset the costs of underpaying Amazon employees such as it is and who better than the same taxpayers who gave Bezos 600 million dollar and 53 billion dollar contracts?

Ironically Ralph Nader was a prime target of Lewis Powell back in 1971 in his memo. Good too see he’s still at it.

Meanwhile back at Amazon corporate, employees make ready the finishing touches on their white collar employees’ break room:

they want everything to be just right for those workers who stroll down the path and up the corporate ladder

Exploitation and entitlement has been a part of the human condition since some hairy neanderthals started drawing stick figures on cave walls with charcoal. But then again, so has murder, pedophilia, racism, tribalism and cannibalism.

Just because something is old and ingrained in the DNA of some of us, that doesn’t mean we should cater to it… forgive it… or tolerate it.

The emphasis on “or tolerate it”.

“For me personally in my experience in the little bit of work I have done with people who either have cluster b personality disorder or are the victims of the same and the research I have done I think entitlement and exploitation are very high on my list. I don’t equally rate the traits, I don’t look at the 9 given traits of narcissism and give them equal weight. I don’t think that vanity and grandiosity and arrogance are nearly as dangerous in and of themselves as exploitativeness and entitlement. When I say entitled I mean as somebody with NPD would feel entitled to steal, to take, literally or figuratively, from you so that I can feel betterRichard Grannon

For me personally, in my experience, this man’s view is founded and rational but I differ slightly in that I believe grandiosity and the lack of empathy ENABLES the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and therefore fosters his ability to justify being exploitative of those around him… including his fellow employees whom he will NEVER come into meaningful contact. Therefore those traits of narcissism are just as dangerous in that their byproducts are the traits that produce the suffering.

“Some narcissists may be able to control these personality traits, but some may not, and that is when they start to become dangerous.”

  • Arrogance and Domineering. …
  • Grandiosity.
  • Preoccupation with Success and Power. …
  • Lack of Empathy.
  • Belief of Being Unique. …
  • Sense of Entitlement.
  • Requires Excessive Admiration. …
  • Exploitative.

The strength of the human species is not found in our savage aggression or the “dog eat dog” ideology of neoliberal corporatism. This ideology serves the corporate interest as it is designed and required to posses this instinct by their founding by-laws but in terms of the human condition, it is in direct opposition to our natural instincts which is why back in 1971 when Lewis Powell sent his memo to the Chamber of Commerce outlining his ideas for a war for the hearts and minds of America’s population, he knew it would be a long hard struggle to remake, rewire the consciousnesses of our culture.

What made us thrive and survive when we weren’t equipped with the physical tools to challenge bigger predators was out ability to communicate and to socialize and to form communities which worked in their SHARED INTERESTS to advance themselves.

Humans are social creatures and any effort to convince us to turn a blind eye to and exploit the suffering of other humans… is not only morally reprehensible… it is actually contrary to the very essence of what makes us human.

The neoliberal revolution is an effort to turn back the hands of time to the Gilded Age. To do away with the social advances that were fought for and won by our forefathers. We have but to look at the evidence left us from the previous century to understand the war we fight, the one for the hearts and minds and lives of our fellow human beings, is an old one. But it is the same:

replace Pullman with AMAZON

If you replace Pullman with Amazon, is this not the same?

The Tech Giants point of view

If you replace Rockefeller with Bezos and instead of DC being afloat on a sea of oil it instead is surfing on “1” and “0”s for the Internet of Things… is it not the same?

Put up there Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Verizon… and is it not the same?

The Progressive Era (1890-1920) was born out of the excess and abject inequality of the Gilded Age. From it came such American ideological leaders as Eugene Debs and Henry Wallace. And from it came the move to create a slightly more equitable America for all of us… FDR’s New Deal (which is the target of this neoliberal revolution)

Today’s “progressives” are a shallow, hollow presentment of those from years gone by. They are poor impersonators at best an in fact, while many of Amazon’s white collar entitled workers who will enjoy those great balls of vanity would call themselves “progressives” because they wholeheartedly back whatever identity politics divide and conquer scheme is in vogue at the time… they fail to understand what lies at the core of the real Progressive Era. It is not identity politics. It is not Black Lives Matter. It is not Me Too. It is not DREAMers. It is all of us fighting a war and an evil that is as old as our history.

We have had our leaders and our champions and our losses. But we have had them and they are ours and though they have been killed for their words and actions… they can never be taken away for we do not forgive and we do not forget.

Just a year before his assassination, at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff retreat in May 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“I think it is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights…[W]hen we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power, then we see that for the last twelve years we have been in a reform movement…That after Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution…In short, we have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society.”

Later that year, in December 1967, Rev. Dr. King announced the plan to bring together poor people from across the country for a new march on Washington. This march was to demand better jobs, better homes, better education—better lives than the ones they were living. Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy explained that the intention of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.” Rev. Dr. King proposed, “… If you are, let’s say, from rural Mississippi, and have never had medical attention, and your children are undernourished and unhealthy, you can take those little children into the Washington hospitals and stay with them there until the medical workers cope with their needs, and in showing it your children you will have shown this country a sight that will make it stop in its busy tracks and think hard about what it has done.” King aligned with the struggle of the poor and black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee in March and April 1968. He suggested their struggle for dignity was a dramatization of the issues taken up by the Poor People’s Campaign—a fight by capable, hard workers against dehumanization, discrimination and poverty wages in the richest country in the world.” Poor People’s Campaign

One year after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his call to action to bring together the people of this country to wage war on excess and exploitation… he was killed with the complicity and the assistance of the very agencies in this country that are tasked with our protection and the protection of our rights and liberties.

And three years after that Lewis Powell set forth a new war on our humanity with his memo to the US Chamber of Commerce and that war has been waging relentlessly ever since.

Apparently the white collar employees at Amazon serve as prime examples of the success of that ongoing campaign… while the blue collar workers are it’s victims.

In a perfect world, in a better world, in a world that we were on track to achieving those many years ago, the employees at Amazon corporate in Seattle would refuse to enter that glorified altar to indifference on Monday while Amazon’s warehouse workers go on strike across the country to demand union representation and better, more humane working conditions.

And the two stand in solidarity with each other.

In that better world the socially conscience viewers of the Superbowl would stage the latest trend in social media challenges… the “Smash My Echo While Watching Bezos’ Commercial” Challenge, sending a message to him that he is not a god and his spying for the CIA will NEVER be tolerated in a THINKING SOCIETY.

That is my hope for a better world and were those things to manifest themselves I could happily retire from this work… satisfied with my service in this war.

But I fear we are far from who we think we are and who our fathers and their fathers were before them.

Last night when I first observed Amazon’s opulent Green Zone break room and I thought about all the thousands of suffering employees who have been recently given a bit of an opportunity to get out to us the harsh and bitter conditions upon which they work and Amazon has made so much money… I immediately set out to make a video about this issue doing my research on it late into the evening.

But as I prepared to press the record button I hesitated and set it aside.

Something this crass and malevolent, right out in the open, right there for all too see, deserved a more capable counter measure than I am currently able to provide via my video format. In truth my skill set in that medium is lacking whereas after 10 years of writing for this website I believe it is my most effective means to convey my thoughts and feelings.

So I will not be doing a video on this as my poor skills could not do it the justice it deserves. However, if someone wants to take this as a script (either whole or in part) and produce it, you are more than welcome to. No further permission is needed.

You can click on the nifty gif thingy for PayPal or contact me via email (rscdesigns@tampabay.rr.com) for my home address.

just as a reminder… I don’t see the advertising on my blog unless I log out and I damn sure don’t get any revenue from it. So if you can help, we would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you very much.

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15 Responses

  1. Brilliant article, Scott. Well done. Great critical analysis.

  2. Bezos is a criminal. Can’t employees sue him for unsafe working conditions ?
    Amazon is equal to sick and cruel in my mind for now on.

    • “Can’t employees sue him for unsafe working conditions ?”
      Probably not, Jan. Bezos the Bozo is a great “liberal compassionate humanist”, so he is untouchable by the news media. Oh wait…he IS the media, WaPo! Can’t see WaPo covering Bozo’s slaves suffering.

      • Good lawyers don’t need coverage by wapo… they just need victims, photos of working conditions, picture of that time board, evidence from ambulance service, hospital care details, temperature proof, and a court… sue amazon for all it is worth and split it up between all packing employees. right ?

  3. “Snow-Globe vanity lawn furnishings”, best description ever. Thanks for such a thought-provoking article with great insight Scott. Utterly disheartening on the work conditions, the CIA connections, and the insidious intrusion of spying devices into our homes.

  4. Git Out while ye still are able. Sfreer7@gmail.com
    Boats with AgroEcology equipment etc to Carib island

  5. Absolutely great article, Scott. Yes, and I agree, your writing skills are far greater than your video skills 🙂 You definitely have a way with words, such as “Apparently the irony of using the depleted and harvested Rain Forest as a symbol of their corporate concern for humanity escaped the planners of this thing.” Very much appreciated !

  6. I’ve already bought the last Amazon product I’ll ever buy, thanks to your work.

    Keep at it, long as you can.

    • will do. got your letter Sat. thank you

    • Hi Roy,
      I got the Spencer paper clipping (today) that shows the blizzard that turned your town into a solid white world ! Great picture. It must have been scary…. couldn’t even see across the street….. thanks for sharing……
      interesting to look at but I am glad I was not there ! 🙂
      and that is the blizzard that you got your car started and drove to the store ?

      • Didn’t go anywhere during the teeth of that thing, Jan. Can’t remember going to the store at all, but it might have been just as things were starting to look bad.

        I think that picture was taken towards it’s end, when the clean-up started.

  7. Huge apologies for being so MIA, Scott. Excellent, insightful, and powerful article! Great summary of narcissism on both an individual and cultural level!

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