Octopus’s Garden

Stacy Mitchell’s prime breakdown of Amazon [“The Empire of Everything,” March 12] showed the Jeff Bezos behemoth as the giant black hole that it actually is, gobbling up what’s left of American free enterprise, extorting and steamrolling the competition and smaller players, and establishing a labor paradigm straight out of Dickens. Mitchell depicts likely Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker as merely another supplicant at the Amazon altar, along with a Congress unwilling to apply antitrust sanctions. And when Amazon can’t compete, Mitchell shows, Bezos peevishly threatens to take his toys and go home.

The article offers some hope that anti-monopolist sentiments may be rising in DC—and while the Amazon “HQ2” shakedown generated invaluable free publicity, the groveling may have finally turned enough stomachs. But as long as Amazon can cadge lucrative freebies from politicians like Booker, it may be necessary to impose some form of online convenience surcharge to save Main Street from imploding completely.

Mike Wettstein
appleton, wis.

Is Trust-Busting Enough?

I’m glad to see the Democrats’ renewed interest in breaking up the monopolies that exert oligarchical control over our country [“The Big Fight,” March 12]. While necessary and long overdue, trust-busting alone will neither save democracy nor create a sustainable and equitable economy; downsizing Walmart to make room for Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond doesn’t get us very far. What’s needed are policies and programs that support small and worker-owned businesses and brick-and-mortar shops on Main Street. Reviving the decrepit downtown business districts of small- and medium-sized municipalities would create local jobs and spur local ownership while restoring community pride and hope—scarce commodities in places that have been ravaged by neoliberal profiteering.
Erica Etelson
berkeley, calif.

Old Justice Made New

I really appreciated Rebecca Clarren’s article “Righting the Scales,” about Judge Abby Abinanti [Dec. 18/25]. Living in Klamath, we see the beneficial impact of her practical and commonsense approach firsthand, both in the lives of those who have gone through her court (e.g., our friends’ adult child, who was transformed from an angry and self-destructive person to a thoughtful community member) and, as a consequence, in the increased safety and peace in our neighborhood overall. And we are grateful. In Thomas Buckley’s Standing Ground, Harry Roberts describes the Yurok approach to restorative justice this way: “Whatever you do, you do on purpose. Don’t say ‘I’m sorry.’ If you break my cup, go get me a new cup. I can’t drink coffee out of ‘I’m sorry.‘“
Susan Simons
klamath glen, calif.

A Nation of Ignorance

Further to Laila Lalami’s column on “Redefining ‘Immigrant’” [March 12]: In a shocking development, the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that the agency will no longer use a phrase in its mission statement that described it as securing “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.” The assault on truth and fairness continues, even in the nooks and crannies of government.
Barbara Marmor
kansas city, mo.