Home » Creeping Fascism » Creeping Fascism, Part 1: Return of the Company Town

Creeping Fascism, Part 1: Return of the Company Town

by John Rubino on February 16, 2012 · 56 comments

The US government’s obliteration of the Bill of Rights via the Patriot Act, the recent defense bill that allows the military to detain citizens indefinitely without trial, the health care law that forces citizens to buy insurance, and the attempted takeover of the Internet through SOPA and PIPA has gotten a lot of attention lately, and in a few rare cases has generated some effective push-back.

But according to an article in this month’s Harper’s Magazine (Killing the competition: How the new monopolies are destroying open markets, by Barry C. Lynn), US corporations are evolving into forms that are more threatening to their victims than anything emanating from Washington. As the author characterizes it, a new generation of monopolists are imposing their own private governments on their industries — and not always the industries one would expect. This long, detailed article should be read by anyone with a desire to understand how the US is evolving. Here I’ll highlight a few excerpts to summarize the major plot points:

Silicon Valley
Just a few years ago a software engineer’s talents were almost completely portable, allowing a programmer to move effortlessly between tech companies. In other words, there was a functioning market for talent in which the individual had power and choice vis-à-vis local employers. Then a handful of companies began to accumulate near-monopoly control over their product lines — and their workers. From the article:

These days the Valley is once again abuzz. Headlines report bulging wallets and a smorgasbord of new perks. Venture capitalists hum down Route 101, and angel investors lurk and listen in the bars. But instead of a disruptive melee like that of the late 1990s, with its diversity of players and voices, the overwhelming tendency today is a further consolidation of power by the already powerful. During the past decade, a few giants have managed to fence in market after market for hardware, software, and content. Some did so simply by buying up their competitors….

Yet this de facto license to govern a trillion-dollar industry—and with it, entire swaths of the American economy—appears to have left these high-tech headmen unfulfilled. Or so we learned when the Justice Department complained in 2010 that senior executives at Apple, Google, Intel, Pixar, and two other corporations had “formed and actively managed” an agreement that “deprived” the engineers and scientists who work for them of “access to better job opportunities.” Even in those reaches of society long accustomed to the rule of the few, the fact that some of the biggest and the richest had agreed not to poach one another’s workers managed to shock. In an editorial, the New York Times wondered “What Century Are We In?” Yet in the Valley itself, from those most directly affected, we’ve heard only the rarest of whimpers. The anger is there. But it’s tamped down by fear.

…At a crossroads just south of Apple headquarters, in front of a Valero gas station, I caught up with John, who was speed-walking to the dentist. “Of course I don’t like it,” he told me, and proceeded to recount the facts of the settlement in detail. “But what can we do? It’s not like anyone ever dares to speak about it. I mean, they actively encourage us not to talk to one another. It’s all taboo.”

Poultry Farming
The broiler industry was one of the first in which the generation of monopolists succeeded in replacing open markets with vertically integrated systems designed to be controlled by a single local buyer. The men who rule America’s chicken-processing plants have therefore had decades to master the art of setting individual farmers—who still own the land, equipment, and liabilities—against one another.

This sounds bad enough. But when I sit down with poultry grower Mike Weaver in his snug rambler to learn how such tournaments work in practice, he seems astonished at my naïveté. “That’s not even the half of it,” he begins.

Weaver, a former fish and game officer who can raise flocks as large as 94,000 birds on his farm, slides a “settlement sheet” across the table. It records the amounts JBS paid to seventeen farmers who delivered their flocks to the plant on one particular day. The company, he shows me, paid the top-ranked chicken grower 63 percent more per pound than it paid the bottom-ranked grower. “Naturally,” he says, “this sort of differential will tend to make a man work harder to stay ahead of the next fella.”

What makes the system truly insidious, Weaver adds, is that the whole competition takes place without any set standards. “There is no baseline,” he explains. For one thing, JBS requires the farmers to procure from the company itself all the chicks they raise and all the feed they blow into the houses. Yet the quality of the chicks and the feed can differ tremendously, from day to day and from farm to farm.

What’s more, the full-grown chickens are weighed after being trucked off the farm. The farmer is not allowed to see whether the figure on the scale is accurate—nor can he tell whether the chickens he’s being paid for even came from his farm. He is simply expected to take the money he is given and say thank you.

As much as he resents being forced into a gladiatorial relationship with his neighbors, Weaver says an actual tournament with a level playing field would be “far better than what we have now.” Under the current regimen, the processors “don’t just force us to compete against each other. They rig the competition any way they like. They can be as sloppy as they wish or as manipulative as they wish. We are entirely subject to the company.” After a moment, Weaver modifies his statement. “Really, we are entirely subject to the foreman at the plant, to the technician who keeps a watch on us. Those men can make us and they can break us, and they know it.”
His face reddens. “The market in this valley is very simple to understand. They give preferential treatment to those who kiss their ass.”

For the local community, the outcome of this arrangement can be devastating. Traditionally, farmers have tended to join politically with their neighbors. But Weaver, who heads the local poultry-growers association, says nowadays many farmers end up viewing their neighbors as rivals. Most of the 400 or so farmers who sell into the Moorefield plant “try to resist such feelings,” he says. But over time, the system wears them down. It also makes them highly reluctant to speak out in public. “Most of the farmers are afraid to say boo for fear the companies will take away their chickens,” Weaver tells me. The processors “know we have our house and our land in hock to pay for the equipment. They know we are honorable people who won’t walk on a promise. And they exploit this.”

Weaver has learned this from bitter experience. In 2010, he spoke at two Department of Agriculture hearings on the consolidation of the packing and processing industries. Ever since, he tells me, the foremen have rated his chickens near or at the bottom, after years of ranking them near the top. This costs him thousands of dollars per flock.

“I can’t prove a thing,” Weaver says when I ask if there’s any way to verify that the company is retaliating against him for speaking out. “That’s the beauty of the system. They know everything and we know nothing. They get to decide what’s real.”

Book Publishing
But perhaps the best way to understand the true structure of America’s political economy in the twenty-first century is to talk to some of the people who publish, edit, and write books in America. These days, most articles on the book industry focus on technology. The recent death of the retailer Borders is depicted as a victory of Internet sales over brick-and-mortar stores, the e-book market as a battle between the Kindle e-reader and the iPad. But if we look behind the glib narrative of digitization, we find that a parallel revolution has taken place, one that has resulted in a dramatic concentration of power over individuals who work in this essential, surprisingly fragile industry.

A generation ago, America’s book market was entirely open and very vibrant. According to some estimates, the five largest publishers in the mid-1970s controlled only about 30 percent of trade book sales, and the biggest fifty publishers controlled only 75 percent. The retail business was even more dispersed, with the top four chains accounting for little more than 10 percent of sales. Today, a single company—Amazon—accounts for more than 20 percent of the domestic book market. And even this statistic fails to convey the company’s enormous reach. In many key categories, it sells more than half the books purchased in the United States. And according to the company’s estimates, its share of the e-book market, the fastest-growing segment of the industry, was between 70 and 80 percent in 2010. (Its share of the online sale of physical books is roughly the same.)

Not surprisingly, then, we find the same sort of fear among our book publishers as we do among the chicken farmers of the Sweedlin Valley. I recently sat down with the CEO of one of the biggest publishing houses in America. In his corner office overlooking a busy Manhattan street, he explained that Amazon was once a “wonderful customer with whom to do business.” As Jeff Bezos’s company became more powerful, however, it changed. “The question is, do you wear your power lightly?” My host paused for a moment, searching for the right words. “Mr. Bezos has not. He is reckless. He is dangerous.”

Later that same day, I spoke with the head of one of the few remaining small publishers in America, in a tattered conference room in a squat Midtown office building. “Amazon is a bully. Jeff Bezos is a bully,” he said, his voice rising, his cheeks flushing. “Anyone who gets that powerful can push people around, and Amazon pushes people around. They do not exercise their power responsibly.” Neither man allowed me to use his name. Amazon, they made clear, had long since accumulated sufficient influence over their business to ensure that even these most dedicated defenders of the book—and of the First Amendment—dare not speak openly of the company’s predations.

If a single event best illustrates our confusion as to what makes an open market—and the role such markets play in protecting our liberties—it was our failure to respond to Amazon’s decision in early 2010 to cut off one of our biggest publishers from its readers. At the time, Amazon and Macmillan were scrapping over which firm would set the price for Macmillan’s ebooks. Amazon wanted to price every Macmillan e-book, and indeed every e-book of every publisher, at $9.99 or less. This scorched-earth tactic, which guaranteed that Amazon lost money on many of the e-books it sold, was designed to cement the online retailer’s dominance in the nascent market. It also had the effect of persuading customers that this deeply discounted price, which publishers considered ruinously low, was the “natural” one for an e-book.

In January 2010, Macmillan at last claimed the right to set the price for each of its own products as it alone saw fit. Amazon resisted this arrangement, known in publishing as the “agency model.” When the two companies deadlocked, Amazon simply turned off the buttons that allowed customers to order Macmillan titles, in both their print and their e-book versions….

Other Industries
In 1978, 43 firms made and sold beer in the US, with the biggest controlling less than a quarter of the market. Today, more than 1,750 companies make beer in this country but Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors control 90% of the market. Harper’s asserts that this gives them the ability to decide which small brewers survive, and quotes a microbrewer: “When I want to get my beer on a store shelf, I don’t call the retailer. I have to beg Anheuser-Busch.”

In the 1980s, there were more than a dozen large ad agencies and scores of smaller ones on Madison Avenue. Today four—WPP, Interpublic, Omnicom, and Publicis—control almost the entire industry. “WPP alone controls more than 300 ad agencies, including such once iconic shops as the Grey Group, Ogilvy & Mather, and Hill & Knowlton. And the four giants vigorously shore up this power with strict non-compete employment contracts.”

Musicians are being squeezed by Live Nation, doctors by hospital management corporations. Retailing is concentrating into a few mega-box chains. The list just keeps going.

Some thoughts
One thing the article doesn’t mention is the concentration of Wall Street financial power. The vast majority of home mortgages and financial derivatives are now originated by a handful of mega-banks. These banks are among the biggest campaign contributors to both parties, while the Fed and Treasury are run by their alumni, so it’s no surprise that financial policy tends to benefit Wall Street at the expense of pretty much everyone else.

The battle against monopolies has been going on since the days when Alexander Hamilton, the spiritual father of the Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs, attempted to use government power to consolidate control of various industries in the hands of his banking cronies. More recently, the early 20th century US economy was run largely by a handful of railroad and natural resource “robber barons.” So what’s happening now is not new, and the solution — break the bastards up — has historically worked, at least for a while. Our problem today is that this relative handful of companies seems to own so much of the government that the two sectors — mega-corporations and big government — are now essentially business partners.

The poultry farming story illustrates the connection between economic and political dominance. When a single company or oligopoly controls an industry, workers can’t speak out or organize because they fear for their livelihoods. They’re serfs in every meaningful way.

All of which makes the left/right divide irrelevant, because both ideologies are getting what they want as well as what they fear. The left wants a big, active government and fears corporate control, while the right (including libertarians) wants free enterprise and fears government control. Yet as things are playing out we’re getting the worst of both: pervasive government and corporate dictatorships controlling huge sections of our lives. Whether we call it fascism or totalitarianism or neo-feudalism, the end result will be indistinguishable on the ground.

  • paper is poverty

    Truly an excellent post! Thanks, John. I wish more of us would abandon the left / right dichotomy and focus more on the little people vs. the elites.

  • WorkingClass

    Yup. We no longer break up monopolies. Now we protect and nurture them and in return they determine public policy.

  • http://www.JoinAmericaAgain.com David M. Zuniga

    John, your most cogent point in the article was: “Our problem today is that this relative handful of companies seems to own so much of the government that…mega-corporations and big government…are now essentially business partners.”

    However, your monopoly metanarrative still misses three considerations that are vital to small American producers: 1) foreign competition in almost every segment makes it harder for smaller-scale operators to compete on price; 2) most American consumers prefer lowest price to best quality; and 3) the government schools insure retrogressive levels of discernment in the future.

    We humans are mostly self-interested, and we all have an inherent wicked streak to begin with. In ‘Leviathan’, Thomas Hobbes famously describes life in the natural state of mankind as, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Two centuries before Christ, the Old Latin period playwright Titus Plautus said that man is wolf to man. Both writers were only echoing Genesis 6:5, which says that from the beginning, “… the wickedness of man was great on the earth…every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.

    The man who wants to build, or make, or grow a thing of quality or beauty must ply his wares to a willing market — and usually settle for less in the end, but with the satisfaction of a thing well-done. My first book sells at Amazon for a third of its ‘retail price’ set by my publisher — yet I’m content. My next edition will sell for even less, most likely, and will be in Kindle format. In my view as an author seeking to have my work reach as many as possible, Jeff Bezos is a minor genius, and a typical, risk-taking entrepreneur; the kind of cad and rounder who bets his life on an idea.

    This generation may see tectonic movements in what we’ve come to regard as fixed constellations of wicked men and institutions. We’re only the first generation in the Internet Age; give it time!

    Human nature can’t be constrained for long, it’s true; but neither can the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith’s market, or the long arm of the law when a determined, righteous minority discovers how to exercise it.

    • Sue

      You read like a minor player in a minor play.

      • Trestle Rider

        Re Sue:

        And you read like an ass with no real experience in the subject at all, just a comment troll blowhard. David appears to live this world, and his thoughtful comments deserve a hearing, not a dismissive retort from the likes of you.

      • http://InSearchofTheMedicineMan.com David Gordon

        Trestle read you right. You, on the other hand don’t appear to “read” at all.

    • John

      1) Much of the ‘foreign competition’ is comprised of small producers. Economies of scale are only relevant in industries like auto manufacture, with huge capital costs that are barriers to entry to small producers to begin with.

      2) The statement that most American consumers prefer lowest price is really just a derivative of the argument you made in 1)

      3) ‘retrogressive levels of discernment’ as a result of American schools have no bearing on your argument. I suppose what you’re trying to say is Americans are too stupid to do what foreigners do now. Suppose that’s true, high intelligence is a requirement in a small segment of industry. The software example in the article tends to invalidate this assertion anyway.

  • Jeff DeClercq

    The flip side to all of this , is eventually they all collapse under their own weight. I predict this for Lowes or Home Depot. This of course after they drive the rest of us small guys out of business. This is a credit driven economy, and since we have reached peak credit , some of these big boys are going to hit the ground, as the great rebalancing takes place. Mark my words, this will happen no matter what the effort to prevent it. There simply is not the consumption demand to support all that is available ,and will not be for some time into the future.
    Jeff D

  • http://www.JoinAmericaAgain.com David M. Zuniga

    Let me qualify my comment above.

    Fascism is the alliance of corporations with central government to control and prey upon a population. Fascist trends began in America at the latest in 1862, when the banking industry had its puppets in Congress pass their ‘legal tender act’. Long before Benito Mussolini’s ghost writer popularized the concept of fascism in Italy.

    AmericaAgain! Trust has a simple mission: recruit, equip, train, and organize its members to enforce the U.S. Constitution’s limitations on federal government, criminally indicting members of Congress on STATE charges, in the STATE courts — steering clear of federal matters and jurisdiction.

    Read Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Most of what Washington D.C. does to keep the wheels of American fascism greased — is ILLEGAL. Not simply ‘unconstitutional’; not simply ‘corrupt’. It is ILLEGAL.

    I meant to imply with my “long arm of the law” bit, that law enforcement is on the way. Things will not continue as they are today, much longer.

    • Michael Warhurst

      Capitalism is when the individual takes the risk and the individual gets the reward.
      Socialism is when the government (in a democracy = all the people) takes the risk and the government (all the people, not just a small percentage) gets the rewards.
      Fascism is when governments (all the people) take the risk and a small number of individuals gets the rewards. Sound familiar??
      Plato designed the form of government he invented, which he called a republic, to be the exact opposite of democracy.
      Socrates who was Plato’s teacher and lover had been forced to suicide because he refused to recant a public statement he had made “that not all positions in government should be elected, some positions should be appointed because they require skills not always available through democratic election”.
      In angry reaction to the “poisoning” of Socrates, Plato invented a system of government, republic, which was run by wealthy elites and was the absolute opposite of democracy.
      America is a republic with a lot of elections, with a government in which political power is so shattered by division, that it is almost always in a state of stalemate. If government is in almost constant stalemate – who wins, rich or poor? The rich win of course, because they are making money fist over paw which can continue unabated if nothing changes. Wealthy elites are in control of America for most of the last forty years and have increasingly indebted the middle class and transferred to themselves 100% of all newly created wealth.
      To this political stalemate mix has recently been added the changes which allow unlimited money to be spent on political campaigns and allow for corporations to be more legally and politically powerful than individuals which has had the effect of even further diminishing individual democratic rights and power – and any real political democracy. Also, the wealthy elites, through their political allies, are more than willing to run the American government into a financial wall through lack of funding; which can either be accomplished through political stalemate or by reducing government income by reducing taxes on the wealthy and corporations or by exporting jobs and un-employing the American middle class thereby reducing government income or by forcing government into debt or by all three.
      America should have a parliamentary government and no more than ten states; the Supreme court needs to be either stripped of some of its power over the political expression of democracy through government or it’s members subjected to relatively short terms of office and democratic selection either by popular election or by 50% plus one vote majority vote in a house of commons; the Senate needs to be either abolished or.
      The Supreme Court has decreed that corporations have the same rights as individuals and are legally equal to individuals and that “money” is speech, even though corporations and money are totally amoral while individuals have the capability for morality.
      Morality is composed of human, social and spiritual values none of which can be described by, or the benefits measured by, dollars
      Morality has three positions, moral – you know what it is and do it, immoral – you know what it is and don’t do it, and amoral – you never consider morality in the first place.
      There can be no better example of amorality than one for whom money, dollars, is the only value considered before decision and action. Corporations only consider dollars before decision or action and therefore they are amoral and have zero capacity for moral decision or action – which forever makes people unlike and superior to corporations (80% of corporate shares on the stock exchanges are owned by the wealthiest 10% of the people).
      Democratic government, on the other hand, is elected to represent the majority of voters’ human, social and spiritual values and therefore has the ability to be and act morally. This is disturbing enough to the top 10% wealthy elites, but what really makes them crazy is that a fully empowered democratic national government also has the capability to force corporations and wealthy elites to be moral!!
      The ability of democratic government to force corporations and wealthy elites to be moral is exactly why wealthy elites and their corporate puppets HATE democratic governments and will use every effort to subvert, limit, and deny and destroy democracy.
      A parliamentary system of democratic government puts all political power in the hands of the majority party(ies) which then can get on with enacting their governing political platform; but even this real democratic government will never be able to act in the interests of the majority as long as wealthy elites control currency creation and distribution through the Federal Reserve which is a private corporation and cannot be audited by anyone. The current Fed system means that governments will always have to borrow from wealthy elites or tax middle working class citizens in order to spend money into the economy, when in fact the national government is the real monetary sovereign and never should have any debt in it’s own currency and should never have to borrow to spend money on programs to benefit the majority and to represent and support human, social and spiritual values.
      In our current system, legal or illegal, corrupt or not, constitutional or unconstitutional, are things which are decided by the Supreme Court, not by say democratic vote through plebiscite or by a democratically responsible government; and the Supreme Court is now and has been for some time an extremely manipulated by (amoral) Republicans institution. So while to moral citizens may attempt or succeed in gaining control of government from amoral corporations; the top 10% and their Supreme Court minions will simply throw out any real attempt to restore democratic control of government and put corporations – including the Federal Reserve –out of government and in their subservient place and frustrate attempts to serve the real interests of the majority of Americans.

      • spec/ops ret.

        I deal with what would be politely called the” middle 50%” of Americans
        if anyone reading this post thinks they can/will change their gove.,I ask
        them to remember that 50% are not as smart as the ones I deal with.

      • George Thurtle

        Michael: What an excellent and well thought out summation of the State of America. With your permission I will copy your comments and attached it to an email to many of my younger family members. Good food for thought.. an act most don’t do very often.

  • paper is poverty

    Another monopoly / cartel supported by government is the school lunch companies. Here’s a story about kids being forced to accept school lunches if their lunch from home doesn’t meet requirements: http://bit.ly/y7wqvb .

    The frozen & fried chicken nuggets the girl in question was fed by the school were certainly not healthier than the turkey sandwich & banana she would otherwise have eaten. But state regulations are designed to push commercial lunches, which are generally no better than junk food.

    Between the 1 or 2 school lunch companies, and the 2 or 3 testing companies, the handful of textbook companies, the vending machines with sales quotas, and Channel One (enforced viewing of commercial ads)… well, the “public” schools are doing a lot to serve private interests. But in a way these schools were always in collusion with private interests, considering they were designed by the robber barons.

  • http://www.JoinAmericaAgain.com David M. Zuniga

    ‘paper is poverty’,

    What Jeff DeClercq says above RE private sector aggregators/conglomerates is true of government schools as well. Abysmally-performing public ‘education’ has driven 2 million families back home, to teach their own children. This was the preference of crowned heads for centuries, as it was of most Americans for the first few centuries after colonization.

    The homeschooling trend is now moving from K-12 to collegiate studies, with online college programs outstripping all those lumbering, politically-correct, absurdly overpriced Leviathan schools.

    As I said above, the first generation of the Internet Age still has 20 years or so of life left in it. This is a young movement; but as surely as the moveable-type printing press killed the Medieval guilds and fiefdoms, technology is now rendering the large, slow-moving giants as so many beady-eyed dinosaurs, blinking their tiny eyes in the new light, before the tar pit claims their hulking mass.

    • paper is poverty

      My own kids are homeschooled, and I know from experience that books & materials available in the private market are cheaper and far superior to the textbooks forced onto the public schools. Similarly, nature and history documentaries on Netflix are much better than the “direct to school” videos we find at our library. Numerous iPad apps are better than school software, and Khan Academy is better than many math programs used in schools. If it were not for government support, most of the public school learning materials would fail in the marketplace.

      Of course, the government agenda is also served: years of boring and ineffectual education makes for bored, ignorant, complacent Americans, easily controlled. In one survey, 35% of US adults agreed that “Politics and government are too complicated to understand,” while only 4% of adults who had been homeschooled agreed (http://bit.ly/xecUvA).

  • Matt Parkhouse

    Whether it is Big Pharma, Big Hospitals, Big Insurance or Big Banks – The “little guy”: The 99% Rae more or less OWNED by one corporation. My example?: I worked as a nurse for a local hospital, part of a big chain (Penrose Hospital, part of Centura , in Colorado Springs. I needed “routine” gall bladder surgery. The hospital’s doc botched the operation, I landed in a month-long coma, followed by a second month of recovery and rehab. The day before I went home, I was given notice that I was to be FIRED because I could “no longer do the work”! That was three years ago. I am now crippled, filing for disability and blowing our savings on health care because we lost our insurance when I was terminated. It is legal but I made the mistake of assuming that the Catholic hospital held themselves ton a higher standard than that. It really IS a Hobsian “All against all” world these days. The Class War is OVER! The corporations won!

    • planck

      So sorry to read this story! I know you are not alone in this mess.

  • proteus21

    “The left wants a big, active government and fears corporate control, while the right (including libertarians) wants free enterprise and fears government control.”

    This is a reason to support downsizing of central government and allow states to retain more power. The citizens eventually become irrelevant when there is tight association between government and favored industry giants. The government ultimately becomes self-sustaining on lobby money and taxes, with less accountability. Party affiliation is similarly less relevant.

    • planck

      This is a reason to support getting money out of politics. FEC 1974 needs to be overturned. SCOTUS needs to be in our sights to force them to make this happen. Like we forced a bunch of grandsons of slave owners to overturn Jim Crow. Once money is out of politics, things will fall back on votes not $$$, and the Government will right size itself!

  • http://GreatRedDragon.com Edward Ulysses Cate

    Your title “Creeping Fascism,” reminded me of a commentary written back in mid-2008, “The Quiet Revolution’s Anthem.” Google it for the lyrics and the youtube recording. My point here is that even in 1973, artists sensed something was coming down on us. One part of the song still resonates:

    Feel that our lives are in the hands of FOOLs,
    Loosin’ their cool, it’s us that they rule.
    Too many people sittin’ dead on their ass,
    They ain’t got no class, people, this time must pass.

    In my own mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that 1% of the population are sociopaths, not that they happen to wealthy, but that they’d attain that wealth by lyin’, stealin’ and murderin’. That’s 3 million folks out of 330 million. So why do the other 99% tolerate that? One answer is that they really don’t understand the word “sociopath” as defined in “Snakes in Suits” by Dr. Richard Hare. One cannot protect one’s self if they truly do not know who is their real enemy. Funny thing is, though, another book “The Sociopath Next Door” thinks they’re 1 out of 25. Maybe 1 out of a 100 are just those who are extreme.

  • Jason Carter

    This reminds me of a study presented on NPR, of all stations. It stated that, over time, successful companies will lobby and help write an increasing number of regulations with the end result of driving smaller, more agile competitors out of the market. The larger companies can handle the burden of over regulation with their economies-of-scale. This seems to be happening in all industries. It is near impossible, even for the driven and savvy, to start a new, small company in certain fields simply because the regulatory burden is too expensive and time consuming.

    Human nature is what it is. I believe our debt-based monetary system allows creeping fascism to occur. If there were no central bank and money was not debt but rather whatever people chose of their own free will, fascism would find no fertile ground to take root. Government would be the servant of the people, instead. Corruption can exist in a hard-money system but cannot spread to like cancer to devour the economic host unless fed with debt-based money.

  • Ed_B

    Allow me to suggest that the relevance of the return of the company town is insignificant in the face of the emerging corporatocracy… one giant company running everything in this nation, including the government, and eventually the entire world. Far fetched? Maybe. But the idea does have a way of scratching at the back of the mind, doesn’t it?

  • http://GordonTLong.com Gordon T Long

    John – Great observations and much needed visibilty. Your last paragraph pretty well nails it.

    I have a free 2012 Thesis paper up on my site entitled “Financial Repression” that talks extensively to Corporatocracy and Crony Capitalism. For those who are interested it shows how truly pervasive this insideous creeping monster is. This notion is no longer political rhetoric, but is now central to what is ending the American Dream for the 99%.


  • ken nohe

    Excellent article and unfortunately true. Although people cling to it like a buoy, right and left concept from the 19C have become irrelevant.
    The obvious conclusion is that economic and political power tends to become concentrated and only wars redistribute the cards. This seems to be natural laws of human evolution.

  • http://dollarcollapse.com Matt Dooley

    Millions of lives will be degraded,lost,killed,”serfed” by the time an S&P 100
    company dies after 10 or 40 years. All aided and abetted by the government.
    I used to laugh at Noam Chomsky, 20 years ago, and his characterization of
    AMERIKA, not laughing anymore. Effective Corporate tax rates HAVE BEEN CUT BY 50% UNDER OBAMA. Consider a different country.

    • planck

      Under Obama? And, just who runs Obama? We need to get over this false notion that the President has any say in anything. They all have to deliver for the Funders. Like Norquist said today. “Romney will do what he’s told.” That is the way it works as long as FEC stands!

  • http://www Maynard Hjelm

    Interesting clarification. I prefer to read it Marcy Lu

  • Jefferson

    There is a market driven solution: buy your broilers from local, small scale farmers. Although, the powerful corporations as discussed above are writing the laws and codes for the FDA and USDA, and now many of these small, local farms are getting literally “shut down” by multi-agency federal raids. It is truly disgusting. But as long as the market for private sales from small farms continues to exist, I will continue to purchase All my dairy, eggs, meat and chickens from them. The taste and quality is incomparable.

  • Liz

    All of my used to be favorite bookstores GONE! Well, they quit carrying books I liked so I quit going and not they’re all gone. And it’s not just bookstores, farms are being systematically wiped out everywhere; I’ve warned a farmer friend of mine and they don’t hear me…

  • Rod

    A well-written piece. Just to add that it has seemed to me that the whole ‘left’ ‘right’ construct is deliberately set up as a distraction and to obfuscate the real issues and what is really important – by those who know, or should know better. The mainstream media and the political arena is full of these types. Better to confuse and mislead with vague, esoteric, abstract left/right arguments about ‘values’ than focus on key matters like corporate or wealth concentration or the effects that immigration and multiculturalism have on social cohesion – making a society more (or less) susceptable to corporate/elite control.

    • Jason Emery

      You got that right, Rod. If they can whip the sheeple into frenzy over abortion, school prayer, and now mandated health insurance coverage of birth control, they assume the masses won’t notice that everything just went up in price 25%.

      No matter how clever they are at hiding price increases in the supermarket, and I’ll have to admit that they are very good at it, how can one not notice to total at the checkout?

    • sgt_doom

      And it works soooo beautifully.

      Witness all the American women (white, black and other) who have diligently aided and profited from helping the lucrative jobs offshoring industry in America.

      Now they are going after women’s rights, a simple matter after destroying workers’ rights — their principal objective.

      Just look at what President Kennedy was involved with prior to his assassination. And the same for Rev. King, Malcolm X and Bobby Kennedy.

      And when Sen. Paul Wellstone and his family died in that suspicious plane crash — he was involved in auniversal collective bargain legislation.

  • ET

    Two things:

    [1] A part of the solution is outlaw corporations. Rather, what would be allowed is ordinary companies, and Limited Liability Companies (LLC).

    [2] To prevent the amount of influence as happens presently, no person or family may own more than one company, nor may any person possess controlling interest in more than one company. This includes family member of the same immediate or extended family. Nepotistic influences would be against the law, and punishable by forfeiture of all assets.

    [3] No person allowed to sit on the board of directors of more than one company.

    [4] Nor foreign corporation would be allowed to have any business presence within the shore or borders of the United States, nor have any fiduciary/financial connections with any U.S. company/LLC, and no U.S. citizen would be allowed to invest in foreign corporations or sit upon whatever board of directors without first registering with the U.S. Department of State as a foreign agent. Any person so registered would be forbidden to have any business connections with American companies/LLC. The same familial constraints as in [2] above also apply.
    [5] Banks to be outlawed, with credit unions allowed as the only private financial institutions.
    [6a] The U.S. would publish its own paper specie. A constitutional amendment would set forth the maximum allowed specie to be in circulation at any given time, predicated upon the known populations of the several states. This paper specie would NOT be allowed to be used beyond the shores or borders of the United States, and its territories, nor allowed to be traded, and anyone found to have engaged in trading that specie in foreign markets would be —if an American citizen— charged with high treason. Consonantly, any foreign person or business entity discovered to have engaged in that trading would be charged with making war against the United States, and acted upon accordingly.

    [6b] Since limits on the quantity of paper specie would be determined constitutionally, with specified allowances for real emergencies, such as declared war, to exceed that quantity for a limited amount and a limited time, the amount of specie would remain fairly constant thus absolutely minimising both inflation and deflation, and eliminate any degree of currency manipulation by external agents. Upon the end of said ‘real emergency,’ the excess specie would be retracted by the treasury and either destroyed or sequestered.

    [6c] Companies large and small would be able to make loans directly from the U.S. Treasury, and repay those with nominal interest back to the treasury. The credit unions would cover the needs of everyone else.

    [7] All minted coinage would be in ounce (or other internationally recognised) weights, and contain guaranteed purity. That is, no coin would have a face value. These coins would be allowed in commerce in the same way as the paper specie. These coins would allow and afford the transport of wealth across national borders.

    [8] The same system of credit as is currently used would still allow for the use of credit/debit cards. International transactions would be entirely with minted coins in ounce weights, or bullion. Since the values of coinage or precious metals is largely recognised internationally, then there would arrive little if any difficulties in transactions.

    [9] In the above, there would no need for ‘income taxes,’ inasmuch as the Congress would have the ability to expend a portion of the Treasury reserves to cover whatever Constitutional needs. And since the specie would be entirely national in nature, then its value in the international world would not enter the picture. Taxation would be as set as in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, with the 16th Article of Amendment repealed. The United States would once again publish its own debt-free money, unencumbered by manipulation of private bankers having no interest in matter save their own.

  • http://philsfoodlist.com john@philsfoodlist.com

    Come on people! You act like you don’t have a choice. Sheeple!!!

    You have a choice with how you live your lives, where and with whom you spend your money, and what you will tolerate or not.

    The POWER is with you! Why do you give it away? Simply, don’t play THEIR game. There is no greater enfluence than how you spend your money. If you don’t like Amazon….simply don’t buy books from them. How many of you bought Amazon this last year??? Who of you gave Amazon and the chicken industry their power?

    The sooner WE understand that the power IS with US, the sooner we can move on! Come on people….wake up!!!

    • Jeff DeClercq

      This was my point above, with peak credit, those choices are part of a necesscary rebalancing, and are already being made.
      Jeff D

    • spec/ops ret.

      I’am not sure if you are young or inexperenced or both,3 or 4 multi/nat.
      corp.’s own (dif/corps in thier own field)so just because buy your widgets
      from corp. B,instead of corp.A does not mean the $ do not end up in the same pocket-book,nothing really change.

  • http://philsfoodlist.com john@philsfoodlist.com

    PS…anyone out there want to sell me their library? Hardcopy only!

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  • PeteCA

    What you are talking about is … Oligarchs.
    We are seeing the evolution of a ruling class of oligarchs in the USA.
    People who don’t just run industries – they micromanage the lives and rights of all those working for them.

    • spec/ops ret.

      As an American living & working in the Netherlands what you are saying
      is what is happening in Russia today.

  • Bob F

    The problem with the American people lies within the American people. We have become complacent, lazy and needy all at the same time. The majority of us just let the big corporations get away with it and use the “don’t rock the boat” mentality. I live in Ohio and last year we had an issue with Senate bill 5. It restricted the public unions in Ohio. I saw both the good and bad in the bill. The good would have allowed the state governement to save more, the bad is that the public sector workers would have had to sacrafice some of their liberties that they get being a public union worker. The bill was met with the highest amount of resentment I have ever seen. What I am saying is that if WE the AMERICAN people use that much passion and organization to repeal a senate bill in a state, why can’t we take back this country for the people? It goes back to my first thought, we the people of these United States, are lazy, good-for-nothing, and allow big corporations to set their own limits.

    • Don B.

      So true. It seems as complacency and poor work ethics are passed on to future generations, people will be nothing more than baaing sheep waiting to be sheered and slaughtered. It’s relatively simple to manage people that only demand basic needs to be filled. Adding mind altering chemicals/drugs to their diets and one can have a humaniod type animal that can be trained for whatever task is at hand. Put them into lifetime debt; the will pull the plow until they die in the harness and pass their debt onto future generations.

  • W G Thompson

    The purifying act would be the outright
    dissolution of the USA, and the forma-
    tion of 4 (one reader prefers 10) new
    entities with national abilities.
    If you wanted to deal the big corps. a
    mortal blow, make cross-border chain
    stores (plus banks) illegal. The
    poor poultry farmers would be among
    the first to benefit, and the Ivy
    League universities the first to fold.
    Nobody’d miss them; they’ve been
    spouting errant nonsense ever since
    B.F. Skinner began teaching that
    human behavior owes nothing to evo-
    lution, and is therefore perfectible.
    How much more dim can they get?
    (Great article) WGT

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  • http://Dreamuse.com Jack Forge

    We, the people, have the ultimate power to stop megamonopoly–civil disobedience: vote uncooperative incumbents out of office, save money in small banks or credit unions, and most important, buy only necessities from local businesses. When we have either the desperation or the courage or both to disobey the powerful elite, we will make a better world.

  • John Trainor

    The Monopolists are binding themselves in bundles, ready to be burned. We are fast approaching the very end.

  • sgt_doom

    Sorry, but I have to call out anyone who claims Barry Lynn is anything other than yet another New America Foundation misdirection specialist, or redirection specialist.

    First, he claims in his book Cornered (which this article summarizes) that this monopoly thing is a “flaw” — absurd!

    It’s strictly by design. Next he ignores a whole bunch of stuff in his book, skimming away from the Blackstone Group and its various perfidious activities, while correctly citing minor, although guilty, player, David Stockman.

    Lynn ignores a whole bunch of stuff, tossing off the offshoring of jobs, etc., quite lightly — negative, traitorous American rats, labor arbitrage (jobs offshoring), hedge funds and private equity leveraged buyout firms (whether Romney or Peterson, et al.) are the primary tools of dismantling the American economy over the past 35 years — and with the underlying foundation made up of credit derivatives (tools) and their securitizations (processes).

    And please, will certain individuals refrain from mentioning Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” unless you’ve actually read Adam Smith and comprehend that the important stuff he believed in, namely:

    NO speculation

    NO foreign investment

    NO trade secrets nor patent monopolies

    And equitable distrubution of ownership and salary

    Oh yeah, and speaking of beer, it was that financial supporter guy of Barry Lynn’s New America Foundation, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Peterson, who at Blackstone Group (you know, that private bankster LBO group Lynn kinda skimmed over????) who killed Schweppes’ outstanding and best ginger beer in the world!

    Harper’s has gotten really inept over the past decade — recall that fantistically horrible article by Kevin Phillips, laying the blame for the economic meltdown around 2008 at the feet of the CPA (what a pile of absolute bullcrap by Phillips, yet another misdirection specialist).

  • sgt_doom

    @ WG Thomspon,

    The purifying act would be the outright
    dissolution of the USA…

    Seriously, that is the plan for around 2017, the balkanization of America, with the beginning over the next several years of leveraged naked swap attacks against state and municipal bonds, similar to what we’ve been witnessing over in the Eurozone. (As in what banksters underwrite the most major city’s bonds: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, et al.)

  • Daniel

    After much consideration, and study, I must say I find the situation hopeless, but not all that serious….yet.

  • Scott Lindsay

    Back in the seventies when in secondary school my classmates where from families that ran there own businesses like Patties paint and Wallpaper,Murrano Shose and Boots,Webers Brick and Block,Bathe and MaClellan Contruction and the list goes on and on, but today they have all gone for the likes of multi corporations like Colour Your World,National Sports,Home Depot and so on and so fourth.Now if you look at who contibutes more to the economy ,both local and the country as a whole it is the independent business family that spread the wealth and also keep it close to home.This is why the US is financially collapsing because they move or get there products produced in a third world country where labour can be exploited and production is cheap and when the people purchase this stuff the money leaves the country instead of being spread around locally.Support small business.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Cossairt/1203480379 Keith Cossairt

    Well said…… the system is toast.

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