An Amazon Easter Egg: Ethical Waste Inside a Plastic Shell

April 5, 2021

I read a “real news” story called “Amazon Apologizes for Lying about Pee — And Attempts to Shift the Blame.” The main point of the article is that a large, essentially unregulated company creates working conditions which deny employees the right to deal with bodily functions. You can plug in the words which would get an ordinary person banned by smart software designed to protect one’s sensibilities.

The write up, however, focuses on Amazon’s mendacious behavior. Is it a surprise that a giant corporation distorts information so that it can continue to behave in a way that would make the author of Nicomachean Ethics slug down hemlock before finishing research for his revered tome? [Note: I included the MIT version because MIT is so darned ethical in its willingness to accept Jeffrey Epstein’s blandishments and cash.] “Gimme that cup of poison. There’s no hope,” he might have said.

The write up states:

Amazon only apologizes for not being “accurate” enough, too — not for actually creating and contributing to situations where workers [censored] in bottles. In fact, Amazon goes so far as to suggest the whole pee bottle thing is simply a regrettable status quo, pointing out a handful of times when other companies’ delivery drivers were also caught peeing in bottles, as well as embedding a handful of random comments on Twitter that happen to support Amazon’s views. You can almost hear Jeff Bezos saying “Why aren’t these people blaming UPS and FedEx? Let’s get more people thinking about them instead.”

There are several issues within this Amazon Easter egg; for example:

  1. The ethical posture of exploitation. The US makes a big deal about China’s alleged exploitation of ethnic groups, yet seems okay with the Amazon and other US entities’ behavior. Interesting or hypocrisy?
  2. The failure of regulation. Is Amazon the exception or the norm? The answer is that Amazon like other big tech outfits is the norm. I want to suggest that the norm applies to sugar cane workers in Brazil as well as to street vendors in Zagreb. Look behind the day-to-day misery and there is a Boss type, probably with an MBA. Governments have failed to protect workers. In fact large companies are the government just as Boss types are the forces which matter in many countries. No elections, lobbyists, or education needed.
  3. Slow response to abuse. Many large tech companies have been chugging along for more than 20 years. Suddenly people care? What’s this say about journalists, union organizers, and non government organizations allegedly “into” fair and equal treatment?

Dropping the Amazon Easter egg on a Friday of a holiday weekend produces what?

Here’s my answer: Visible evidence that the Easter egg is made of the same indestructible plastic in which many Amazon products are packaged. Those eggs are unbreakable, and the behaviors are going to continue.

My suggestion? Stock up on large mouth plastic bottles or start innovating with modifying a Rocket Man beverage pack so it can be used as a Porta Potties using an indwelling urinary catheter instead of an outdwelling beer nozzle. Less hassle and an opportunity to become an entrepreneur selling the “innovation” on Etsy.

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2021

Comments

Got something to say?





  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta