Wisconsin State Journal
1901 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison, WI 53713
Much as I appreciate and support Wisconsin Public Radio, I am categorically opposed to its policy of taking funds from and promoting the predatory business model of Amazon.com, Inc. That model has been catastrophic for local businesses and, as a consequence, ruinous to local communities especially in the rural parts of our state. While WPR boasts of its alignment with and support of such communities in Wisconsin its partnership with Amazon enables their demise.
First the big-box stores drove commerce from our rural downtowns to the fringes of our communities. The profits accrued to distant corporate interests. Amazon is administering the coup de grace by driving commerce out of our communities entirely. Despite its enormous revenues Amazon has consistently operated at a loss. It has concentrated its energies and resources on destroying its competition in local communities by predatory pricing practices. Small businesses cannot absorb the losses incident to that kind of price war. They take the immediate hit, but the community takes the deeper, long-term hit. Not a dime of the sale stays in the local community. Not a job is created in the local community. No rent is paid. No services are employed. This is monopoly, not competition!
Look, I understand the dynamics of disruptive capitalism as well as the next person. That does not mean that its supposed positive consequences should simply be endorsed and lived with. The economies of scale, efficiencies and perceived consumer benefits are only part of the equation. The collateral damage to our communities also needs to be considered, evaluated and responded to accordingly.
WPR claims that “strengthening Wisconsin's communities” is essential to its mission. To “strengthen” is to have agency and take an active stance. To take $20,000 from Amazon and to direct its listeners to the Amazon sales website is to actively “weaken” Wisconsin’s communities. I have been unable to persuade WPR of this contradiction. I would expect better of this otherwise worthy organization.
Sometimes our friends can unwittingly be among our worst enemies. Wisconsin Public Radio is a great, long-term institution in our state. We understand their financial pressures as more and more “public” funds are withdrawn. But, the damage done to rural Wisconsin communities by its partnership with Amazon.com, Inc. is unacceptable. We ask that you support us in our effort to get their attention and revisit their mission of “strengthening Wisconsin’s communities.”