October 20, 2019 by epoetus
There are a lot of technology monopolies.
Many more large companies qualify for this scrutiny, but let’s looks at these first since two out of the three are homegrown in Washington state.
Why are monopolistic companies like Amazon, Boeing and Facebook untouchable?
• The Myth that Capitalism is self-regulating
• The Myth that globalization requires ‘free-trade’ and it is self-regulating
• The reality that Capitalism and globalization are managed largely by rich people and large corporations, not governments. “We The People” who expect our democracy to manage corporations and Capitalism are doubly challenged as we must take back our governments *before* we can expect to reverse these impacts of monopolies.
• The detailed use of anti-trust precedent to skirt scrutiny, Supreme Court decisions and declarations by former Presidents like Reagan who placed limitations on what corporate behaviors warrant anti-trust oversight and regulation
• The belief that lowering the price to the consumer is the key criteria that negates the argument for using anti-trust laws against a monopoly
A quick plug for Islanders’ Voice: If you like what you see on the Islanders’ Voice site then please share our stories with your friends and ask them to join the mailing list: Subscribe to Islanders’ Voice Free Weekly Mailing List, and like the Islanders’ Voice Facebook page as well: Islanders’ Voice Facebook page.
What are monopolistic corporations like Amazon, Boeing and Facebook actually doing to us?
• The short list of Amazon transgressions
o Unethically rubbing out competition and abusing its position as a platform (e.g. Birkenstock)
o The inhumane “Modern Times” Charlie Chaplin-esque warehouse working conditions
o The use of personal data for corporate financial exploitation
• The short list of Boeing transgressions
o The crashes of the 737 Max 8
o The realization that safety oversight has been co-opted by Boeing’s interests and this doesn’t just apply to the 737 Max 8
o The slow acquisition of the competition over time, tempered with official declarations that while Boeing is a monopoly, it is a *good* monopoly
o Enabling political support by purchasing elected political officials like Senators Murray, Cantwell and Representative Rick Larsen
• The short list of Facebook transgressions
o Trump winning the 2016 elections due to Facebook ignoring Russian hackers, propaganda sites, and agents on Facebook promoting propaganda
o Other countries, like Myanmar, who have perpetrated genocide on people’s like the Rohingya through the use of promoting propaganda on Facebook
o The use of personal data for corporate financial exploitation
What is being done about this? Nothing. Oh there is some handwringing and apologies, but the place of ‘handwringing apologist’ is well-defined and manageable within this Orwellian 1984-esque undemocratic system. It will blow over. The people will forget, if not also forgive, these transgressions, and then we’ll all move on to more colonization, greater inequality and less democracy – the magical trick is all about managing the rate at which we get there. Effectively we the people are the frog, and these monopolies have enough control over our political processes that they get to decide how fast we are boiled – they don’t want us to notice. We can call this system of governing a Corptocracy, which has replaced our democracy.
What is the role of government? The role of government is to do the most good for the most people and the environment for the longest time. There have been many posts relating democracy to our political processes, but it is worth connecting the idea of global warming into this context, as one of the best refrains about it is: We are frying the planet for profits. Our government needs to become democratic once more, so that it can take control of these political processes and stop this country from frying the planet for profits. We as a country also need to play a key leadership and diplomatic role in this process on the worlds’ stage, but none of this will happen if corporations continue to operate as monopolies that also defeat our democracy.
“The Customer is Always Right” – People as revenue generators, not human beings and customers
Here is a final thought in case you wonder about the veracity of what is being said here – it is meant to be a thought provoking intuitive thought experiment. Compare your interactions with a local small business that you like, one that clearly demonstrates an ability to take feedback and use it to improve the customer experience, with that of a larger corporate player. Maybe it is a business that operates out of the local Farmer’s Market or one along the figurative Main Street, but try to pick one that you like a lot.
With that local business, do you feel as though you are a person that they care about? Do you feel as though the person you are talking to is empowered to create a positive, satisfying caring experience for you and the local business? Maybe it is a little garden shop that you feel that way about. Maybe gardening is a satisfying aspect of your life, and they make that experience better for you. They are part of making you happier, because your interactions with them enhance your quality of life as a human being. We are able to build a relationship and deepen it to benefit each other over time.
Now think about a large corporation that you are a customer of – it doesn’t have to be Amazon, but that is a good example. Do you feel as though the undertone of everything is about how much money you are making for them? Do you get the impression that your value in the situation is proportionate to the profits you are producing for them and not about your satisfaction with the service or product. A great example is Centurylink or Centurytel – can we even remember their latest name? – because there are so many outages and disruptions and the conversation with support always begins with the idea that we’ll have to pay to have the problem diagnosed. We have been collectively through this dance thousands of times, and it appears that the support people are either unwilling or unable to see and think for themselves how long and painful this history has been. Yes, this customer relationship does feel like we’re being colonized by parasite, and nobody truly understands why they are allowed to function as a monopoly even after it was proven that they are not and will not honor basic state level commitments like 911 Emergency call redundancy. This essay is about asking us how did we get here, and why are we putting up with this? If this clear differentiation isn’t about how our democracy has been defeated by these large corporate players, then what is it about?
The Supreme Court says that corporations are people – how is it possible to characterize this treatment of people as part of humanity with a conscience? Maybe if they were also held legally accountable for human traits like empathy, compassion, caring and trustworthiness, it might not be a completely preposterous notion. Right now it just feels like an incredible excuse to help the rich get richer.
Charlie Chaplin “Modern Times”
New Yorker “Is Amazon Unstoppable?”
Facebook and Myanmar genocide
Cracks in new generation 737 planes
Century Link 911 Emergency line support
Investor’s Business Daily on monopoly determinations
“Consumer welfare has been the foremost concern of U.S. antitrust law since the 1980s, with price hikes seen as the surest sign of monopoly power. “