I assume that by now you've heard of and probably read the New York Times article discussing the working culture at Amazon. Assuming that article is correct with its facts, then here is the worst example known to humanity on how the human spirit could be torn apart in the name of efficiency and productivity. And I do tend to suspect those facts are correct, given Amazon's record and given Jeff Bezos being the libertarian that he is (note the difference between that and civil libertarians).
It did make me think, this article.
When they told us how smartphones are made by slave labour and reported the suicides at Foxconn, where iPhones tend to get assembled, I dismissed it. It's not like I had a choice: pretty much all gadgets nowadays are made of blood. You can have your moral ground, but you'd be stuck at a prehistoric era.
Then when they told us of the harsh conditions at Amazon's warehouses, where workers' movements and packing throughput are measured while temperatures are rising, I managed to convince myself to dismiss it because all jobs at these levels tend to suck in one way or another.
Now, however, I hear that Amazon is having a go at white collar workers. Now is when I cannot dismiss it anymore, because now they're after me.
So yeah, I'm two faced. But at least I recognise the fact.
I do not doubt for a second that my record as an Amazon consumer is yet to be concluded. I do, however, plan on reducing my Amazon intake as much as I consider reasonably possible, and that includes purchases from Amazon subsidiaries such as Book Depository or Woot.
The more important fact to recognise is that Amazon is not alone in this game. None of these companies that try and portray themselves like they were your best friend really is. Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, they're all the same shit - they're all there to make money, and they will probably even argue that they are legally bound to cross the threshold of what a reasonable person would consider ethical.
Any significant improvement in the way things are has to happen at the political level. With the USA being as capitalist minded as it is, and with the USA in control of the world and its culture, I cannot see that happening any time soon. Indeed, I see the opposite taking place right in front of our eyes in the shape of the TPP agreement.
Image by Aurelijus Valeiša, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) licence