After a week-long hiatus, Bill Maher returned to Real Time on Friday night. And in lieu of defending creeps, unleashing racist rants, and sharing the worst coronavirus takes, he took aim at the man who will likely be the first trillionaire: Jeff Bezos, Dear Leader of Amazon.
“In the online marketplace, Amazon has become the only game in town—and that was before an event happened that made everyone stay home and order everything online,” offered Maher.
Instead of exploring the firing of organizers—and planned racist smears—against factory workers speaking out against poor working conditions during the pandemic like his network-mate John Oliver, Maher cited Amazon’s rising stock price amid the COVID-19 crisis (approximately 25 percent) as well as their dominion over the product market.
“While we’re all inside getting softer and hairier, [Amazon’s] out there getting bigger and stronger. And if we don’t do something, we’re going to come out of our holes and discover that there’s only one store—and it knows where you live,” said Maher.
Last March, then-presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed breaking up several of the major tech companies that generated $25 billion or more in annual revenue—including Google, Facebook, and yes, Amazon. The plan would undo some of the mergers that allowed the tech titans to corner the market, e.g. Amazon and Whole Foods, as well as ban Amazon from selling Amazon-branded products on its site.
The plan was co-signed by Maher on Friday. “Elizabeth Warren had a plan to break up Amazon. And I say: Let’s go for it,” argued Maher. “When a company gets so big it smothers all competitors in the crib, that’s anti-capitalist—like when Amazon destroyed the start-up Diapers.com by cutting Amazon’s own diaper costs below cost. By one estimate, Bezos lost $100 million in his quest to corner the online diaper market. But he owns it now, which raises the question: What is wrong with this man?”
He added, “Jesus, OK, you had one brilliant idea: that when people get drunk at home, they’ll go online and buy shit they don’t need. Great. Congratulations. You won. You’re the best at making money. But one of the rules of the game of capitalism is, you can win big but not so big that there’s no game.”
Maher invoked John D. Rockefeller, whose monopoly over oil allowed him to become the richest man in modern history, with a peak net worth of approximately $418 billion (adjusted for inflation), or 2 percent of the country’s entire economy.
“Rockefeller had only one product: oil. Amazon sells 119 million different items, and when one supplier brings you everything, you’re not a customer—you’re a dependent,” claimed Maher. (Amazon sells over 600 million products.)
“Amazon does prey upon the Achilles heel of the American character. We will sell our soul for convenience.”