Many arguments have been made on our capitalist, market-based economy being somewhat natural. Or at least that our economy will naturally thrive through competition and Supply and Demand so long as it is not tampered with by the Government. On the flip side of the coin, this argument implies that socialism/communism is entirely unnatural, ultimately robbing all motivation of each individual. The classic argument comes to mind “you think people are gonna get off their butts with more handouts!” Conservatives do a good job here bringing this into simple logic if the reward of hard work is given without hard work, why would people ever work hard? This is precisely where Robert Reich begins his book, Saving Capitalism for the Many, Not the Few. Reich invites you to imagine that you are out at sea and find an undiscovered island, with a population of indigenous peoples who have never been contacted by the outside world. Would they have a capitalist society due to the laws of competition and supply and demand? NO! These so-called natural laws aren’t laws at all, this is just a system where the government makes all the rules for the market. It is entirely arbitrary! We made up the whole thing! Well not us, but the wealthy who can afford to lobby the government. Breaking this fundamental misunderstanding of the system is crucial to the general publics’ ability to get a fair shake.
Today we have more mega monopolies than at any time in history. Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook have grown to proportions never seen in human history, not to mention the power they wield controlling the flow of information. See the government decides typically breaks up companies when they are using their size to snub out competition entirely. See the market-based argument is that companies that big with that many resources can innovate at a breakneck pace due to their resources so it is good for everyone. That would be great if it was the case. However, Google spends more money on buying small companies and suing companies they can’t buy for patent violations than they do on research and development. Google’s purchase of Motorola is a perfect example, they did so to obtain patents from the company, then lawyers can go out and sue anyone who is a potential competitor for patent violations. Facebook is even more savage, Zuckerberg is famous for a path he walks behind their HQ with upcoming companies. This is where their dream will die. Zuckerberg then tells them you are going to sell to me or you are going to war with me. Vine is perhaps the most famous occurrence, at the drop of a hat they were able to kill Vine nearly overnight. When the CEO of Snapchat turned down his $3 Billion offer to sell, Zuckerberg went and immediately purchased Instagram to take him out. To this day FB has been adapting Instagram to take Snapchat users, like the story feature, and it is working, the value of Snap Chat has been dropping ever since.
While those are the more obvious ways the game is rigged unnaturally, large corporations really thrive in areas the average joe can’t access or comprehend. Companies like Comcast and AT&T spend their resources constantly lobbying to change contractual law. Unless you are a lawyer, it is likely you would never notice. Even if you are a lawyer, you could never out lobby two massive corporations. See these companies have lobbied to make it legal for them to write things into contracts that had previously been illegal. If you are a customer of any of these large ISP’s(Internet Service Providers) 20-30 years ago when they were phone companies they were legally liable to provide a certain standard of service. You sign a contract and promise to pay for X number of months and they agree to provide some amount of service. Both parties are legally obligated to something. Today these companies have lobbied to change contract law completely in their favor. They now have the ability to write in a contract that upon signing you agree to forfeit any and all potential legal action against the company and will accept their arbitration in the event you want to pursue legal action. In laymen’s terms, we have all given up the right to ever take action against Comcast. No matter what they agree to or how bad the service is they are not liable. They don’t have to provide any level of quality. What is the result of this duopoly? America has the most expensive internet in the world, some of the worst public access, and we are not even in the top 10 countries when it comes to internet speed. If we were to disguise the name of these companies and describe this scenario, you would likely guess this was a business owned by a Russian oligarch.
Wait a minute that sounds like our healthcare system!?
Perhaps there is a pattern here! In America, drug companies have perfected the art of snubbing out competitors. We currently pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. No, we are not getting better drugs, the exact same drugs we take available in Canada at a fraction of what we pay. Why? Because our Government has changed the rules to favor the Drugmakers and not the people who need medicine to survive, like insulin. See our system kills the competitors to these Big Pharma companies through complex laws. First, in Europe, it is illegal for any Drugmaker to ever advertise. In America, once cigarettes were banned for TV ads, guess who bought all their spots!? Big Pharma, so go ahead and add that cost to our medicine. In most of the world for every drug made, there is a generic alternative available at a fraction of the cost. In America, companies are allowed to own patents on drugs enabling them to sue generic brands. Then once the patent is about to run out our legal system allows them to simply change the shape or color of the pill and renew the patent. This allows companies to pick the price they want for potentially decades.
The moral of the story, this isn’t even a capitalist system. Not in any way. These companies are not competing, they are ruling. The rules of the game have been picked by them to ensure their financial longevity. Socialism is here, just not for you.