Lion of the Blogosphere

Inside Amazon in the NY Times

Today’s NY Times article, Inside Amazon, about the work life inside Amazon, is pretty fascinating. The complete opposite of the company I used to work for, where agreeing with senior management was highly valued, where no one cared how fast the web pages loaded besides me (yes, the only person in the entire company who thought stuff like that was important) or took ownership of anything, but at least no one had to work long hours.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Labor Markets

46 Responses

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  1. Did your company’s website include an 800 number? I never shop with companies that don’t.


    August 15, 2015 at 7:05 pm

  2. That was some of the most ridiculous propaganda I’ve read in years. That place sounds like a cult.

    Jeff worshiper

    August 15, 2015 at 7:11 pm

  3. Most Americans can’t handle this sort of culture at the office – they’re terminally incapable of genuine accountability to the logical, rational quality of their thoughts, which is often severely lacking.

    This sort of behavior rears its ugly head practically everywhere in this country. Here for example is a childrens’ book, written by a vet with PTSD, to explain to kids why their parents are hair-trigger emotional wrecks and that they should just learn to deal with it. Note that this guy didn’t get therapy for his PTSD and learn to behave like an actual human being toward his own children again and recommend that other sufferers do the same; instead, he wrote a book for kids in order to help them deal with his inappropriate, explosive anger. Were this a just world, he’d be bludgeoned to death with a copy, purchased used.

    Bezos is a brilliant leader. Incompetent people in this country desperately need to be broken hard if they are to be halfway decent to have around and his is one of a very few companies that does just that. As investor activism gains steam it may spread – or at least one can hope so.

    Viscount Douchenozzlé

    August 15, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    • Bezos isn’t brilliant in any progressive way. He’s a businessman, who knows how to tap the right buttons, when it comes to triggering human frivolity and irrationality, in our consumption culture of immediate gratification.


      August 16, 2015 at 10:37 am

      • Agreed – I think that’s fair to say. But he forces his organisation to drill down into refining process and making decisions on the basis of sound logic and rigorous analysis, then ensuring that the execution is as error-free as possible. That in itself is so out of the ordinary in this country that it ends up being viewed as brilliant in a relative sense against everything else.

        Most companies simply aren’t like this. I own a boutique manufacturing business; recently I bought a moderately expensive machine (roughly $12k) to produce a certain type of part more efficiently. I went out of my way to purchase a US-designed and built version of this machine, which cost me a little bit more than comparable Chinese and Korean-built machines and a little bit less than a German example. When it arrived, having been built to order for me and allegedly inspected and tested before shipment, it had several major, obvious flaws that essentially kept it from working at all. One was a materials failure issue that *might* have happened in transit (though probably not) and the other was a very serious build quality issue immediately visible to the naked eye of anyone with more than three brain cells. Not only did the manufacturer deny that the problem was present in photographs I sent to them from the start, as I escalated the issue I was accused of having damaged the machine myself. I ended up having to literally build my own replacement parts and then spend two months fixing other smaller issues with the machine before it worked 100% correctly.

        Americans just have the wrong values, though it probably isn’t entirely their fault as they’re mostly descended from peasants exhibiting low future time oriented behaviours. Recently I had to enlist the services of a local glassworks to custom-cut a piece of specially-treated glass to replace a part on another machine I use frequently. And if you read the Yelp reviews for this place they are ALL complaints about how unfriendly the receptionist (owner’s wife) is. Yet this woman is a fount of knowledge about glass, and manufacturing/processing/cutting/etc techniques thereof – and to me (and everyone else who needs something done well) that was much more useful than her phone manner. Bezos is great for just this reason; he’s content and execution over presentation all the way, and here that’s so rare that it seems like genius at times. I only wish more people in this country could be the same way.

        Viscount Douchenozzlé

        August 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    • ” Incompetent people in this country desperately need to be broken hard if they are to be halfway decent to have around and his is one of a very few companies that does just that.”

      While the government spends $30 billion helping delude them into thinking they are college material.


      August 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm

  4. where no one cared how fast the web pages loaded besides me (yes, the only person in the entire company who thought stuff like that was important)

    Are they still struggling to replace you?

    The Undiscovered Jew

    August 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm

  5. There seems to be 2 tiers in modern american white-collar employment:

    Tier 1: Shitty places like your old job where you don’t have to work long hours

    Tier 2: Great places but you have to work 1000 hours a week.

    Why not have a great place where you only work 30 hours a week, but demands are high?


    August 15, 2015 at 7:57 pm

  6. “…emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others.”

    This is disgusting.


    August 15, 2015 at 7:58 pm

  7. 20 years ago I would have respected these people for working so hard. Since I have broken the chains of corporate brainwashing and semi-retired to a cabin on 60 acres in the sticks at age 45, I had a good laugh at their insanity and foolishness. I wonder what is the percentage of them who are on mind altering pharmaceuticals.
    All that work to live in cold, 300 days per year of rain, an overbearing government, and lazy leftists as neighbors. And to shorten your life with the stress and lack of exercise. Thinking that anyone would do what these people are doing makes me feel like I am from another planet. How can they not see that this is a very poor way to live?

    Copperhead Joe

    August 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    • To retire at 45 with 60 acres you have to earn money somewhere. For most people it’d mean working for corporation for some years.


      August 17, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    • You have to earn some money 1st before retiring at 45 with 60 acres of land. For most people it would be working for a corporation for a while.


      August 17, 2015 at 1:20 pm

  8. The Allentown Morning Call had several stories a few years ago about how terribly Amazon treated its warehouse workers. It’s pretty bad. I’m anti-union, but after reading this am convinced government needs to take a greater role is setting minimum working conditions.


    August 15, 2015 at 9:02 pm

  9. Lion, do you have any advice on finding a very chill corporate job that still pays well? I have no problem with agreeing with senior management, no matter how stupid their ideas are.


    August 15, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    • Learn programming and work at a company where no one knows how to program. No one will have the slightest clue what you are doing and as long as you get your projects done (eventually) everyone will be grateful for your voodoo and keep you around.


      August 16, 2015 at 10:44 am

      • Very similar job: in-house translator at a company where you’re the only bilingual in those two languages.


        August 17, 2015 at 10:21 am

    • Chill corporate job that pays well, sounds like a complete oxymoron!


      August 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm

  10. Fascinating article! I want to know what is the compensation like over there. I’d worked like this for a brokerage firm and maxed out at $170,000, but it was 15 years ago. My average was 140-150,000, though. I’d enjoyed my job, but had I done a trade than, I would be making more now and could leave a good business to my kids or grandkids, or sell it before retirement. So I think your own business or trades make more sense than a corporate rat race.

    What do I care what Bezos has to say? He can go to hell with his HR, performance reviews, snitching, spying and squeezing the last drop of life out of his workers. I do a relaxed easy job tommorow that should take me about four hours and earn $500 cash, go to gym and chill. I ain’t going back to corporate America ever! Corporate America can go to hell!


    August 15, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    • High status corporate work, which is all these high paying, well known companies, are taken up by status strivers, many of whom, are from the prestigious colleges/universities. And our colleges are basically enablers of these corporations, by grooming their students into them.

      Do you know why many college professors at the prestigious colleges, hate teaching undergrads, and often are at odds with the college president? Simple, a difference in values. Most of their students only care about being a high paying serf at the end, where as the professor value autonomy and scholarly learning over money.


      August 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    • Yakov, I always enjoy reading your accounts of how many hundreds of $$$ you are making for a few hours of hauling compressors up and down stairs. Are you in HVAC? Hopefully when I finish my plumbers union apprenticeship I will be in the same position.


      August 16, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      • It took 8 years and these are my private jobs. If you become a master plumber or just work on your own using a friend’s license while giving him a cut, you will do even better. Good luck!


        August 16, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      • Yeah, HVAC.


        August 16, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      • I just had to hire a plumber to replace shut off valves for three sinks and two toilets. He showed up on time and on very short notice, squeezing me in between two jobs on a Friday morning. His bill for labor was $90 per hour for three hours of work. I suspect a chunk of that, say, 25% is overhead to cover his truck, tools, etc. He’s got to pay the full 15.3% FICA on his reported gross income, but can probably get his federal income tax rate down to 10%. He’s got to pay for his own health insurance, and obamacare makes that available but it’s still got to be $500 per month (tax deductible). He told me he learned the trade on the job working aside an experienced plumber, has been in business for himself for over 25 years in FL, a non-union state, and has always had more work than he can handle.

        E. Rekshun

        August 17, 2015 at 5:28 am

      • Good rate for Florida, cheap for NYC. I take $85 an hour and I’m cheap. Now, if you paid him cash, he’s kept all the money. I get paid in cash or launder all my Che KS, so my $85 is truly mine. This is how this city works on my level. Of course once you do big jobs some of the money becomes legit. So your plummer makes more than you’ve reckoned.


        August 17, 2015 at 9:13 am

      • Also mate, you realy made me laugh with the full 15.3% FICA. This is hillarious! You think plumbers are stupid? No plumber does this.


        August 17, 2015 at 9:25 am

      • Yakov, I’m a freelancer earning six figures. Tax preparation and bookkeeping are trades too!

        I could understand why many blacks could never run any business successfully, even working at home. As a self employed person, you have to worry about cash flow, and be on the side of caution, as to ensure clients pay you, so that you can pay your bills on time. Employees only have to worry about showing up for work, and they usually get paid, bi-weekly. blacks who generally have lower future time orientation, could never have the discipline to store their revenue, just in case, a few clientele screw up their cash flow, where you are short on money to pay the bills, because you blew away your money on frivolous things.


        August 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

  11. sounds like an absolutely horrid place to work. i wonder how many of the male employees killing themselves there for their six figure income there are coming home to their studio apartment every day asexual relationship with an overweight over the hill woman, all the while your average chad working as a garbage collector is pulling babes on tinder left and right.

    what’s the honest to god point of breaking your back for corporations like that. society rewards guys who inject hormones in their backsides more than than it does your average skinnyfat office jockey working at companies like amazon these days.

    james n.s.w

    August 15, 2015 at 11:08 pm

  12. lotb,
    i do feel sorry for you.
    g3t over this, hiking, biking, go europe or do the aliya.
    buy a motorbike. archery. fly fishing. sailing, join idf as volunteer, go golf, whatever.

    get yer move on, or stay a depressed newyork yidl forever, sad and bitter.

    you deserve better,
    greets from europe.


    August 16, 2015 at 1:02 am

  13. OT: Wonderful photo of ¡Jeb! with a very suitable apron, “PORK: Be Inspired”. Some might say it’s rubbing it in just a bit excessively though.


    August 16, 2015 at 5:28 am

  14. … At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

    The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock. Losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff — “purposeful Darwinism,” one former Amazon human resources director said. Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.
    … his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.

    This company clearly needs a more diverse workforce, though I wonder what an African-American Survivor of Slavery* would say about the working conditions.

    (* I’d like to suggest this as the next official designation.)


    August 16, 2015 at 6:50 am

  15. except for the expectations to work long hours, that culture sounds fucking amazing. way better than the female-centric “be stupid if you want just don’t upset anyone” model of my employer

    "prole" and proud

    August 16, 2015 at 7:50 am

  16. Have you started looking for another job yet?


    August 16, 2015 at 8:21 am

  17. Oh my, articles like these make me glad I’m not in the workforce anymore. A couple more years would have been ideal, but when the end came and I got my pink slip, I was ecstatic.

    Mrs Stitch

    August 16, 2015 at 10:01 am

  18. All of this and they still can’t turn a profit?


    August 16, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    • Bezos has become a multibillionaire. Amazon has been VERY profitable for him.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      • Amazon’s ROIC on its individual internal divisions is pretty high for a business that started essentially as an online retailer. They just constantly funnel all of their cash into expansion.

        Viscount Douchenozzlé

        August 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm

  19. OT: This is pretty funny

    The city Department of Education has told about 45 families zoned for PS 199 on West 70th Street that the high-performing school has no room for their kids — and to enroll them instead at low-performing PS 191 on West 61st Street.

    Disappointment turned to outrage when the state Education Department posted its 2015-16 list of the most dangerous schools. The state cited 97 “violent and disruptive” incidents at PS 191 in 2013-14. These include four sex offenses, two arsons, 12 assaults with physical injury (four with weapons), 10 cases of bullying (eight with weapons), and dozens of “minor altercations.”

    Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose met with parents on July 30, the day before the damning list came out, and sang PS 191’s praises.

    “They told us the school is safe. But it’s on this list,” fumed Andy Davis, who has a 5-year-old daughter. “With less than four weeks before school starts, the DOE has given us no other option.”


    “It’s not a racial issue,” one parent insisted. “It’s the test scores and the violence.”


    August 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm

  20. It’s fascinating how companies like Amazon are able to demand banking/ consulting type hours without actually paying very well. A new hire at Goldman or McKinsey performing among the top 10% of his peers will become quite wealthy within 5-10 years. An engineer sacrificing his youth at Amazon can expect a few pats on the back and a pay bump from 90K to 135K or something like that. Why would you the hours of a surgical resident to be marginally upper middle class?


    August 16, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    • Because it beats unemployment.


      August 16, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    • Indeed.

      (It also shows the importance of getting onto the right career track.)


      August 17, 2015 at 3:39 am

    • If those are Amazon’s salaries, they’re hardly anything to complain about — for $90k, and certainly for $135k, I would probably be willing to endure those hours. I’d save like a maniac and quit in three or four years.

      Japanese corporations demand these hours and pay a pittance! I spent age 23 through 26 working for a Japanese bank and was paid about $30k per year, working over 3000 hours per year. Now, a decade and a half later, I earn nearly double that but only have to put in half as many hours. And I’m a lot more motivated at work. There’s nothing like a short work day to keep employees happy with their jobs and willing to put in extra time when it is truly needed.


      August 17, 2015 at 10:33 am

  21. Wow! That article about working at Amazon reminds me of the letter Charles Bukowski sent to his benefactor to thank him for his freedom: “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.” From:


    August 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm

  22. Viscount Douchenozzlé

    August 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm

  23. I went back to read that NYT article on Amazon. I betcha, the company doesn’t hire a lot of blacks, maybe as menial clerks, who can’t loaf around. This being said, it seems like Amazon is another tech company in the likes of Google and Apple, which sort of understand HBD, and not understood or willfully ignored by the Northeastern elites, with their usual, value transference, shenanigans.


    August 18, 2015 at 7:23 pm

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