Dear Amazon (and other corporations looking for municipal incentives)

Pitting cities, states, or nations against each other to compete to become the site for your next headquarters, factory, shipping centre, whatever… ultimately hurts you. And it is really really obvious why/how.

Getting tax breaks may help your very-short-term bottom line. But you expect to hire from the locale where you build because there is a financial advantage in having expert local knowledge. And, likely, you are examining the available worker population to see if A) they are educated enough, B) willing to work cheaply enough, and C) the local culture promotes exploitable work ethics like honesty and low white-collar crime.

Paying no taxes harms all three of those criteria. Not least because it tells everyone in the local community you are only there to maximize your profit and care nothing for the people.

Promoting your profits über alles model tells employees they should do the same. The nanosecond they can be convinced to do something to harm you for a micro-fraction more than they earn from you, they will. Your short-term profit focus means they, too, should be looking at what they can make this week, not next, even if that is capitalizing on weaknesses in your company. Or maybe especially on weaknesses in your company.

Cutting revenue streams to a government – which is what those tax incentives are – means the region has less money to support schools, ensure health services availability, maintain infrastructure. Ultimately that means you are going to have to pay employees more to move to, or stay in, a region with declining services. Who wants to live or raise their kids in an under-funded city?

And it has knock-on effects. How many acres of Detroit are now raising crops rather than urban residence taxes?

Learn to think beyond quarterly reports, and stop choosing the lowest bidder. You, more than any other company, know how stupid that is, because that is your industry.