The Amazon Headquarters Sweepstakes Is Bad for Cities

The Tax Incentives Doled out to the Online Shopping Giant Aren't Worth the Gains in Jobs

Envious of Silicon Valley’s success, more than 80 places throughout the world have renamed one of their neighborhoods “Silicon-something,” including “Silicon Beach” in Los Angeles, “Silicon Bayou” in New Orleans, and “Silicon Roundabout” in London, as if the very word works an economic magic.

So it was not surprising that when Amazon announced plans to build a second headquarters—“HQ2”—somewhere in North America, more than 200 cities decided to compete for the honor. Dangling the promise of 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in investment, Amazon brazenly pitted state against state, …

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Why Not to Trust “Buy Now” Buttons

Digital Media Ownership Is Partly Based on Lies

The multibillion-dollar digital media marketplace is built, in part, on a lie. Companies like Apple and Amazon entice their customers to “buy now” and “own it in HD.” But consumers …

When the World Came to My South L.A. Door

Amazon Is Nothing New, in the 1930s and ‘40s Salesmen Delivered Everything From Fresh Doughnuts to Steel Guitars

I remember most clearly the things that aren’t here anymore, the things that I saw as a child in our neighborhood in South Los Angeles.

In 1937, when I was …

What Does Amazon Want to Be When It Grows Up?

Facing Staggering Losses, the Confused Online Business Can’t Afford to Be All Things to All People

Amazon recently announced a staggering $437 million loss over the third quarter. This three-month period included the disastrous introduction of its new smartphone, a misstep for which the company has …

Why Do We Love Being Frequent Flyers, Buyers, Shoppers, and Eaters?

In Exchange for Our Data, Customer Loyalty Programs Give Us Discounts—and a Sense of Intimacy

I am having a hard time being loyal to all my loyalty programs. I have frequent flyer/buyer/rider/sleeper/eater/drinker cards with two airlines, three hotel chains, a grocery store, two booksellers, one …

My Store Just Died

What We Lost When Rocket Video Closed Its Doors

On October 7, Rocket Video, the last great independent video rental store in the city of Los Angeles, closed its doors for good. I was Rocket’s manager. The store had …