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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.


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Overnight, MacKenzie Scott became a billionaire. And not just any billionaire. With a net worth of $60 billion, she is one of the richest women in the world after her divorce from Jeff Bezos, possessed of Amazon’s tax-avoiding lucre. Scott is committed to giving it all away and has already committed $1.7 billion to nonprofits. With a gift of that size, writes Stephanie Clifford, “Scott could’ve built a cancer center, had a museum wing named after her, made a college rededicate itself in her name.” Instead, she gave away 116 grants at once, no strings attached.

The Way We Work Now

The pandemic is changing life plans and career paths in unexpected ways

Workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island. Photo: Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty Images.

I’d heard the horror stories about the harsh working conditions inside Amazon warehouses, but by the time I sat down to apply for the job last week, I had other worries on my mind. During most of the year, I work as a special education English teacher in Baltimore. And while I typically have a side gig to supplement my income — most recently as a driver for Uber and Lyft — the combined threats of a deadly global pandemic and economic downturn changed everything this year.

With so much uncertainty in our day-to-day lives, it’s hard to predict what…

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

A new series about how this pandemic affects our lives, our loved ones, our work, and our way of life

Photo illustration. Image sources: Ina Fassbender/Getty Images, 4x-image/Getty Images.

Life in the Time of Coronavirus is a new GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

This Amazon employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, is an inbound stow associate in her mid-20s working at a major California warehouse. Employee organizations in other warehouses have been negotiating for increased labor rights, with some recent successes, but her facility does not have such an organization.

If I could stay home, I would, but I need this job. We have work gloves and hand sanitizer but…

Power Trip

King Bezos still reigns supreme

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

On Tuesday, Amazon announced it was raising its minimum wage to $15. People were ecstatic and with good reason. In the United States, Amazon directly employs 250,000 people with another 100,000 brought on as “seasonals,” the company’s term for the workers who flood its fulfillment centers during the holiday season. Some of them presently make as little as $10 per hour for grueling — sometimes fatal — work.

While $15 an hour is hardly enough to live a decent and dignified life in this country, it is going to make a world of difference for those who were making even…


The company’s controversial face recognition software is being used by police

Photo: picture alliance/Getty

In June, more than 100 Amazon employees signed a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos, strongly protesting the company’s push to sell its controversial facial recognition software, known as “Rekognition,” to local police departments around the country. The letter has now been signed by more than 450 employees, and an Amazon employee published an anonymous op-ed with Medium detailing their concerns.

Rekognition has made headlines for months, as civil liberties groups have called on Amazon to stop selling the software to police departments because of the extreme privacy and civil liberties concerns that accompany the technology. In August, the ACLU uploaded…

Power Trip

How the Post Office’s deal with Amazon has made life hell for mail carriers

Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty

Earlier this year, Amazon became the second U.S.-based company to be valued at more than $1 trillion. Yet for all its dominance and efficiency, Amazon relies on a dusty, centuries-old system to deliver at least a third—and possibly as much as half—of its packages around the country: the United States Postal Service.

In mid-October, I spoke with a mail carrier who works at a midsize hub of the U.S. Postal Service in rural New England. As a rural carrier associate, they make just under $18/hour in a continuous, part-time position. During the week, the carrier says that between 75 and…


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