One of the most interesting parlor games in the business world these days is trying to guess where Amazon.com will locate its second headquarters and the 50,000 jobs that will supposedly be created by Amazon HQ2.
So it's time for me to get my bet down, and I pick . . . Toronto. As in Ontario. As in Canada.
I'm not picking the Washington area — home of The Washington Post and many of my journalistic colleagues — which is trying to entice Amazon.
And I'm not picking my home state of New Jersey, which desperately needs the reputational enhancement, economic stimulus and personal income tax revenue that HQ2 would create.
I'm picking Toronto.
Why? Partly because although Amazon said it was looking for a site in North America, it didn't say it was looking in the United States.
And partly because I think that if I were Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (and owner of The Post), I'd find Toronto attractive in ways that the United States once was but no longer is under Donald Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual and anti-Bezos presidency.
Canada, as my friends have explained to me, has an immigration system that gives preference to highly educated people. That's as opposed to the U.S. system, which (perfectly understandably) places a premium on reuniting families. That's a major advantage for Canada, given that Amazon is no doubt hoping to lure thousands of highly qualified non-North American people to join the company.
Even though Canadian English is somewhat different from U.S. English — if you've spent time north of our border, you know what I'm talking aboot — people at Toronto HQ2 would have no language problems communicating with people at Seattle HQ1. There would be all sorts of language problems, I think, if Bezos picked a site in Mexico.
Trump boasts endlessly about all the U.S. jobs that he claims to be creating now and that his policies will create in the future. So imagine one of the most desirable corporate projects of our time taking place outside the United States, while Bezos explains that a major reason was the uncertainty and fear Trump's policies and pronouncements have created — and that another reason was the difficulty Amazon could have recruiting highly qualified foreigners because our immigration policy has become so unpredictable.
I'm not rooting for the United States to lose the jobs that HQ2 would create.
I'm telling you what I think will happen, which isn't what I want to happen, as someone who considers himself a U.S. patriot.
Just so you know, I have no pipeline whatever to Amazon (whose employees haven't told me anything useful for years) or to Bezos (who has never talked to me and probably never will) or to any people playing any sort of role in deciding where HQ2 goes. I didn't ask Amazon to comment for this column, because why waste the time and effort?
My Toronto pick is based on a hunch, which some polite people might call an educated guess.
There is also some journalistic risk-reward calculation at play. There's very little downside for me if I'm wrong about Toronto, and there's a very big upside if I'm right.
If I'm wrong, almost no one will remember. And if I'm right, I won't let you forget.
Alice Crites contributed to this report.