Some boots-on-ground stuff from the dustier part of my home state:
The desert area along the Columbia River gorge is one place Amazon likes to put its cloud servers - I imagine due to its renewable energy potential and cheap real estate. The company brings in employees from around the country to work at the new server plants located just outside of what used to be sleepy ranching and agricultural towns.
Due to shitty work/life balance, high stress or whatever, there is a pretty high turnover rate of these employees to the point where many don't even bother to change their plates. The locals I visited had one such employee living in the house next door, who moved out again after less than two years.
Amazon has gotten hip to this and is now buying with cash all houses for sale in the area within a specific price range, only to turn around and rent the properties to incoming employees.
My hosts were of the opinion that this was destroying what was left of any community cohesiveness by crowding out locals in the housing market in favor of temporary tech employees who had no vested interest in the area. My roommate (their son) argued that anyone in town who wasn't retired or an Amazon employee was either leaving anyway or too broke to secure a mortgate to begin with.
I'm not sure what to think, but am wondering if this is the new model for the "company town" where the privileged, "essential" employees of whatever mega-corporations that didn't go bust during this attempted economic reset get to "own nothing, and be happy." I doubt that this is the only area that is being transformed in this way.
Some other observations:
Masks are optional - even in places like Starbucks and McDonalds. Masks are maybe on 1 in 5 people in the more populated areas, down to almost zero in the small towns.
We had breakfast at a cafe in one of these small towns. It actually had a sign on the front door stating that anyone entering with the intention of enforcing or reporting non-compliance to unconstitutional mandates would be considered trespassing and turned away - with the help of the local sheriff if necessary. They were playing a Johnny Cash CD in the kitchen and the place was packed. I kind of wanted to live there and was about to see if they needed a dishwasher when the roommate snapped me out of my reverie. Anyway, we paid cash and left a large tip 😎
Thanks for sharing, orchid20. The company town model you describe makes a lot of sense. I can only add that this scheme works perfectly to depopulate and given rural area from its organic residents. We live in such an area, and community means a lot here.
Yikes almost sounds like they're setting up company towns again. Great for Amazon, terrible for locals and employees.