Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The problem with monopolies

Read this. The headline is "Our Problem with Monopolies and Why Everything Sucks." I'm not going to excerpt any part of it here. But it's worth a read.

It's just a couple of anecdotes, nothing more than that. And it's funny, though it wasn't funny for them. But this is at least one of the problems with monopolies.

Remember, we witnessed this same stuff in the Soviet Union. Communism failed because of the inherent problem of monopolies, at least in part. Monopolies in a capitalist system aren't much better.

Of course, some things are inherently monopolistic. We call those things "utilities." They require effective government regulation and political consequences when they screw up too badly.

It doesn't matter much to me if monopolistic businesses want to join the ranks of utilities, with all of the regulation and restrictions that entails, or if they want to get out of the business of being monopolies (one way or another).

My argument is just that we should be actively seeking to eliminate monopolies which aren't considered to be utilities (and regulated that way).

Of course, the devil is in the details. Monopoly power is a problem even when one single company isn't the only option. The question should be more about the degree of market control, and we won't all agree about that.

Extremely large companies have many advantages, from economies of scale to political and economic power, so large companies tend to get larger. That's natural. And that's why we need an active effort to avoid monopolies.

I'm not claiming to have the solutions. It's not likely to be simple, and it's almost certainly not going to be just one solution. But it's something we need to work on. And it's one big reason why money is such a problem in our political system.

These companies have the money to get what they want - and prevent what they don't want - in our political system, especially after such destructive Supreme Court decisions as Citizens United. Well, that's the law of the land now. We're going to have to live with it while we seek to change it.

None of this is going to be easy, and it's all going to require compromises. But we've seen what being stupid, simplistic, and unyielding did to us in November, didn't we?

If we didn't learn from that, this is just going to get worse and worse as the Republican Party continues to dominate the American political landscape.

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