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John Chuckman


The article’s headline and photo suggest it is about Amazon, but it is not. It purports to explain why tech companies’ behavior is much like that of older companies, giving a few anecdotes of interest but not much else.

Steve Jobs indeed had a long public record of behaving as a bastard, including in his private life. He once tried to disown in court his illegitimate daughter, trying to pay nothing for her support, then settling on what can only be called a token amount for a man of his then resources. His business practices with employees and customers did not depart from his personal behavior, although he liked to play the smiling guru, a little like the Ghandi parody done by Bill Gates in meetings.

Other companies the author mentions are also known for some unpleasant practices with their customers, most notably Facebook, a ruthless outfit in bed with the CIA from the start. The author left out the most egregious example, Microsoft, surely one of world’s most disliked companies and deservedly so.

But I do not believe Jeff Bezos belongs in that crowd. I stand ready to be corrected by facts, but the author of this article provides none.

The article in The New York Times does not convince. Much of the public still seems to believe The New York Times is a voice of authority, but it is not, and it is not owing to its own shoddy practices over the years. It actually has a long record of dishonest journalism, favoritism to friends and associates, and a number of terrible with-hunts.

Its witch-hunts included, for example, investigation of a woman some years ago who said that a Kennedy cousin raped her at a Kennedy beach house. Not only was her testimony believable, but in trying to discredit her, The Times revealed her identity, something against court practice in such cases. It was a shameful example of pandering to a wealthy family with which it had connections. Another case involved the scientist Wen Ho Lee. The Times pursued him with a long series of articles for crimes of which he was never convicted because the FBI did not have evidence.

There have been many such cases in American domestic affairs, but The Times is just as guilty in foreign affairs. Several times it has been caught with CIA agents on the payroll. It has never once failed to beat the drums for war too. And it accepts and justifies every atrocity committed by Israel. It is hardly the voice of dispassionate journalism.

So an article by The Times should serve only as a starting point for an investigation, but the author of The Guardian article has done none.

I think the article he has written has an extremely naïve starting assumption, that tech industry somehow was thought to behave differently as an employer and supplier than traditional industries.

The last time I looked, humans had not shown any recent advance in evolution. We remain relatives of chimpanzees, only with larger brains capable of still more damage than those cute but nasty animals. So why would you be surprised human behavior in a newer industry hasn’t changed? It seems to me it was a false premise from which to start writing.

But even in older industries we do sometimes have enlightened and responsible owners, and until I am convinced otherwise by facts I regard Bezos not as Andrew Carnegie but as a decent and innovative businessman.

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