Sunday, December 19, 2010

What good has economic competition done for us?

We have to enact anti-collusion and anti-monopoly laws just to sidestep the inevitable consequences of capitalism, making it obvious that harmonious competition is far from the only -- or most likely, even -- outcome of that economic system. That's absurd enough as it is, but where is the competition in the following areas of our lives?

1. Google - Who stands a chance against Google? Bing? Yeah, right. How about Google's blog service, their translation service, their trends service, their online documents service, etc.? Where are the competitors, if competition is so good and natural?

2. YouTube (now part of Google) - Does YouTube more or less hold a monopoly on Internet videos? Yes, it does. Can you name a site with any decent chance of competing against YouTube?

3. Twitter

4. Facebook - MySpace has been killed by Facebook, leaving Facebook the monopoly on social networking. Scary!

5. Other examples of advertising-based companies becoming monopolies once their sites go viral

6. Microsoft (though they've been broken into separate corporations)

7. Best Buy devoured Circuit City a few years back.

8. Hechinger was put out of business by Home Depot not too long ago.

9. Netflix is on the verge of eliminating its last competitor, Blockbuster.

Everywhere I look, all I see is monopolies, monopolies, monopolies! Looks like it's time to upgrade our systems and give up on the idea of the invisible hand.

Of course, there isn't anything inherently wrong with there being one way of doing things, but monopolies 1. demonstrate the myth of naturally occurring, perpetual competition in human societies, and of its alleged benefits, and 2. allow companies to control markets without regard for consumer input. In the future, let's allow everyone to produce goods and services, and to collaborate while continually peer reviewing one another. That way, we can promote uniformity and a kind of social objectivity -- not by accepting standards imposed by any particular group, but by working together to come to conclusions. Company A, company B, and "the consumers" will come together and talk with one another in an effort to maintain checks and balances, with company A and company B joining together to form company C always remaining a strong possibility. Kick out the profit incentive, and this could be done not to guarantee growth, but to end disagreements on how to produce goods.

See: your electric company, the public library 

1 comment:

  1. I think we need to stop promoting "competition," an ideal which has never really existed in any capitalist system anyway, and start promoting "equal alternatives." See Alfie Kohn's "No Contest" for a detailed explanation of why competition cannot work.