Tag Archives | monopoly

Citizens unite online to beat big business

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Matthew Bailes, Swinburne University of Technology


More people are using the internet to find what they want and bypass big business.
jessica zhou/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

There’s nothing corporations like more than a good monopoly. Plug in the consumer and turn on the profits! In Australia there’s seemingly no end to the spiralling cost of living as our utilities, banks and other service providers find new ways to hit us with fees that deliver them record profits.

Although in principle we have competition, in practice it is often difficult to understand the true cost of changing banks, electricity suppliers or internet service providers (ISPs) so we end up getting gouged.

But recently citizens have been fighting back, and it might signal a new dawn for consumers. The answer is not in shopping around between this duopoly or that, but in using the internet to advertise, supply and connect with other citizens that cut out the middlemen and eliminate the establishment.… Read the rest

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Paul Krugman: Comcast and Time Warner ‘Barons of Broadband’

Pic: PD

Pic: PD

Paul Krugman rightly casts a jaundiced eye at the Comcast/Time Warner merger…

Via New York Times:

Last week’s big business news was the announcement that Comcast, a gigantic provider of cable TV and high-speed Internet service, has reached a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, which is merely huge. If regulators approve the deal, Comcast will be an overwhelmingly dominant player in the business, with around 30 million subscribers.

So let me ask two questions about the proposed deal. First, why would we even think about letting it go through? Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?

On the first question, broadband Internet and cable TV are already highly concentrated industries, with a handful of corporations accounting for most of the customers. Once upon a time antitrust authorities, looking at this situation, would probably have been trying to cut Comcast down to size. Letting it expand would have been unthinkable.

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The Rise of Big Chocolate

“The Rise of Big Chocolate” certainly sounds like a lascivious porno movie, but if there is any movie that comes to mind in this article, it’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a wonderful and memorable family movie with catchy songs coating a rather bitter and dark enterprise involving vulture legal contracts, unsafe working conditions (why, oh why, is there never a barrier around the chocolate river?), worker exploitation, and even corporate espionage (remember Slugsworth), a movie that unfortunately mirrors the present due to monopolization of confectionery companies by Cargill and Barry Callebaut.

VIA Foreign Policy

Small and mid-size confectioners have traditionally been able to request specific blends and recipe mixtures from cocoa processors. But as the number of sellers has thinned, chocolatiers struggle to procure these specialties. “When it comes to Belgian chocolate, there is not that much variety anymore,” says Van Riet. He explains that his customers “are very nervous” as the consolidation in the industry continues.

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The Disappearance of the Monarch Butterfly


When Star Livingstone’s Mother purchased her Adirondack Homestead in 1963, she added some lime to the acidic soil. Soon after this, some Milkweeds began to grow on the two acre plot attracting Monarch butterflies. She allowed these Milkweeds to flourish in a little patch creating a small sanctuary. When she built a house she dubbed it “The Butterfly Barn.” Every year since then for nearly 50 years, monarch butterflies have been flying here to reproduce and lay eggs and die. Their offspring would then make the return trip in the fall, flying over 2000 miles to winter in Central Mexico, in what is now known as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Last summer at least 50 to 100 monarch caterpillars were seen eating the milkweed and spinning cocoons. Some Milkweed plants “volunteered” in the middle of the vegetable garden, where they were allowed to grow. At least one monarch caterpillar, reached maturity and successfully metamorphosed into a butterfly in the middle of a cabbage bed.… Read the rest

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Pixar and LucasFilm Settle After Allegedly Shutting Former Employees Out of Jobs

monopoly-logo-mickey-mouse-parodyIt’s a small world after all… especially if you’re an animator looking a new job in Silicon Valley.

Disney’s Pixar and LucasFilm subsidiaries have agreed to a settlement over their alleged involvement in a Silicon Valley-wide pact to avoid hiring competitors’ employees. Reuters reports that a Friday court filing stated that both branches had settled a suit brought by former tech company employees, though no further details were disclosed. The suit, filed in 2011, was brought by five employees who said they had lost out on higher wages and better job opportunities because Pixar, Lucasfilm, Google, Apple, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit had all agreed to avoid hiring each others’ workers.

Evidence from the trial suggests that between 2005 and 2007, company executives began creating agreements that shut workers out of jobs unless both companies approved of the hiring. One document said that if a Pixar employee applied to Intel without being recruited, Intel would “contact the CEO of Pixar for approval to hire” before moving forward.

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Speculative Fictions: Scientology’s Tin-Pot Real Estate Empire and the Real Owners of the World

Photo: Scientology Media (CC)

Yippee! We'll never have to pay tax on this building! Photo: Scientology Media (CC)

Business Insider pulls the veil aside a little on the vast global real estate portfolio of The Church Of Scientology, with 10 examples from the over 8,500 Scientology Churches, Missions and affiliated groups buildings in 165 countries around the world.

Still, Scientology is way behind the top five largest landowners in the world: Queen Elizabeth II (legal owner of about 6,600 million acres of land, one sixth of the earth’s non ocean surface, valued at £17,600,000,000,000); the Russian state (4,219 million acres); the Chinese state (about 2,365 million acres); the Federal Government of the United States, which owns about one third of the land of the USA (760 million acres); and the King of Saudi Arabia (553 million acres).

And not even in the same class as the more venerable Catholic Church, but of course Scientology hasn’t been able to take advantage of tax exemption for as many centuries …

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