Ever notice how any main street, in any town, is lined with the same restaurants, the same clothing stores, the same bookstores…
It’s like anywhere you go, you’re always in the same place
It wasn’t always that way. If I think back on my childhood vacations, I remember each place I traveled to was a new adventure. Every town had its different stores and local restaurants that drew you in with their own unique charm.
What happened? Why has everything in America seemingly become so cookie-cutter?
Evidently, this is what happens when a few companies own everything. This is what happens when the economy is controlled by big corporate monopolies.
Big companies with deep pockets, scoop up smaller companies like small change.
The big companies get bigger and bigger, while the smaller companies are swallowed up and just disappear.
This kind of negative uniformity that corporate monopolies engender in the name of scalability and (ironically) optimal customer experience, only translates to less choice in the variety of products and services available to consumers.
Do we all really want to go to the same steakhouse? Do we all really want to eat the same French fries and wear the same sneakers, or do we do so because there simply is no other option?
Do we even really want what’s available or are we simply being brainwashed by corporate greed? It’s hard to know the answer when the choices are:
It feels like five fingers on one hand or half of ten on the other.
Name Your Price:
The laws of supply and demand dictate price. Simply put, the more demand there is for a product, the more customers will pay for it. Therefore, once corporations have created significant demand for a product, they can fix a higher price for it and charge whatever they like, knowing that customers have no cheaper alternatives.
In fact, companies will often increase demand simply by manufacturing less of their own product. This artificial shortage allows corporations to raise the price further while customers are left wondering.
Inflation: When prices are ‘fixed’ in this manner, it also leads to inflation. With only a limited number of companies offering a certain service or product, once one company sets a high price tag, the other few companies in the same product/service category will do the exact same thing. These monopolies block competition. Any smaller company attempting to offer the same product or service for less money will be squeezed out, either by the big corporate companies buying the smaller companies, or by the bigger company temporarily reducing their prices, and undercutting the competition to the point where the smaller company can no longer afford to offer the product/service. Once the smaller company is edged out into oblivion, the big company will return to charging more money.
Price Discrimination: In addition to price-fixing and creating artificial shortages, such companies will also engage in Price Discrimination. This is where a company will offer extremely similar products or services to customers and charge them different prices based on the customer being a member of a particular group / in a particular situation or location.
Big corporations care about one thing only: Making Money.
Corporate monopolies are formed by engaging in unethical practices designed only to benefit themselves in their continual pursuit of money. Money Matters Most.
Commercial Monopolies Crush Society: The existence of such wide-scale monopolies in a society also leads and contributes to lower wages: if one company is the only business with employees who perform a particular task, then that company can pay their employees minimum wage, with little incentive to offer pay raises, as there are no other companies for the employee to work for.
The Company Town: We currently run the risk of Big Corporations turning the world into a virtual “Company Town”. In a company town, everything is owned by the corporation. All employees work for the corporation and in turn, the corporation:
The Price of Politics: In the current political climate, monopolies have considerable political power. Financially strong companies have the ability to contribute large sums of money to political campaigns with the expectation and understanding that any politician the company supports will then in turn vote for laws and policies which will support the contributing business to make more money.
For example: If a company has given a politician a large sum of money, they may later expect that politician to support a law that would guarantee the company lower tax rates.
What if, instead of dragging each other down and squeezing one another out of business, companies, big and small, formed mutually beneficial alliances?
Imagine a world where businesses could partner together ethically to raise each other up instead of dragging everybody down. Imagine the possibilities.
Close your eyes and picture a world where companies can reach out, across the world, and right next door, to help each other. This is a world where time and energy are saved. There is no corporate waste. The power of the monopoly crumbles when the playing field is leveled.
In this world, Big Businesses are able to attract a wide-scale audience of customers, and at the same time, smaller businesses are also able to: gain clout, reward their customers, and make it more likely that their customers will become repeat buyers.
In this world, when we take a trip, drive our cars down any main street, we may find a vast array of different choices. Chain restaurants can sit on street corners across from independent Mom and Pop diners. A store selling hand-made toys can thrive. Independent bookstores can return to local shopping centers without fear of being put out of business.
And if we can imagine it, surely there’s a way to make it happen.