Whole Foods buyout is rotten deal
By Jim Hightower
Wall Street analysts tell us that Amazon’s $14 billion buyout of Whole Foods isn’t only a win-win for both of them, but also for consumers, for Amazon intends to lower the organic grocer’s prices.
Really? Yes, they say, because Amazon will use its amazing computer-driven tactics to cut Whole Foods’ cost of selling groceries.
But Amazon’s robotic “efficiency” is achieved by cutting people. It ruthlessly squeezes suppliers, for example, demanding that they give bankruptcy-level wholesale prices to the retail colossus.
That means that small organic farmers and food artisans are destined to be squeezed out of Whole Foods, displaced by deep-pocket, global food makers who are willing to cut corners on quality and the environment in order to get on Amazon’s new grocery shelves.
Next on the chopping block is Whole Foods’ helpful and friendly work force. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, doesn’t view workers as assets, but as costs. So to jack up the grocery chain’s profits, he’ll cut those “costs” – aka, people.
He’s already testing a store concept that has no cashiers to interfere with your shopping “experience.” It uses computer sensors to take your money electronically, instead of paying bothersome humans to do the job of checking you out and – God forbid – conversing with you.
Oh, another plus of connecting us to the corporate computers is that they’ll track and record our every move and every purchase, building a detailed personal profile on each of us in order to ... well, to do what? And why?
According to the calendar, we’re living in 2017. But the Brave New Future of Amazon’s electronic, robotic Whole Foods Market tells us we’re living in the corporatized version of 1984, where human needs for jobs and personal relationships are subverted to the corporate love of automation and avaricious profits.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.