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Monopoly

New Research: Amazon’s Monopoly Tollbooth In 2023

Amazon’s dominance of online retail means that businesses that make or sell products have little choice but to rely on its site to reach customers. Amazon exploits its power as a gatekeeper to pocket a growing cut of the revenue earned by these businesses. It does this by imposing ever-larger fees on them. In effect, Amazon controls a monopoly tollbooth that sits between businesses and the online market. Over the last few years, it has sharply raised the price of passing through it. In the first half of 2023, using a variety of fees, Amazon took 45 percent of sellers’ revenue in the U.S. That’s up from 35 percent in 2020, and 19 percent in 2014. These exorbitant fees make it nearly impossible for small businesses and other sellers to sustain a viable business online. Most fail.

Is Intellectual Property Turning Into A Knowledge Monopoly?

The twentieth century saw the emergence of public funded universities and technical institutions, while technology development was concentrated in the R&D laboratories of large corporations. The age of the lone inventor Edison, Siemens, Westinghouse, Graham Bell had ended with the nineteenth century. The twentieth century was more about industry-based R&D laboratories, where corporations gathered together leading scientists and technologists to create the technologies of the future. In this phase, capital was still expanding production. Even though finance capital was already dominant over productive capital, the major capitalist countries still had a strong manufacturing base.

Justice Department Says Google ‘Flexed Its Muscle’ As A Monopolist

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, the government opened its first major monopolization case in decades at the D.C. District Court with opening statements from both the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the defendant, Google. Despite the stakes of the trial, the remainder of the legal proceeding will take place in a near-total blackout, since requests for public audio have been denied by Judge Amit Mehta and even in-person attendants are restricted from digital access inside the courtroom. For nearly two decades, Google has served as the “on-ramp” and gatekeeper of the digital world through its dominance of search engine functions, which is the target of this case.

Amazon’s Tight Grip On Cloud Computing Poses Multiple Threats

Cloud infrastructure and services are the backbone of the modern economy. The world’s biggest companies, including many banks, hospitals, streaming services, consumer goods companies and far more, all store troves of data in the cloud and rely on cloud applications and services to operate. In light of this essential role, ILSR is deeply concerned about high levels of concentration in cloud computing and the ability of the sector’s dominant firms, led by Amazon, to exploit their control over this infrastructure and the data they glean from it. In a comment letter to the Federal Trade Commission, ILSR urged the agency to use its enforcement and regulatory powers to address the anti-competitive conduct of Amazon’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services.

Albany Passes ‘Right To Repair’ Law For Electronics

It may soon be easier to get your busted iPhone fixed. Under a bill passed by the state legislature last week, digital electronics manufacturers – such as Apple or Samsung – will be required to make repair instructions and parts available to both consumers and independent technicians. The “right to repair” legislation, which still needs to be signed into law by the governor, is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. It follows a year-long campaign by tech and environmental activists, who accused manufacturers of intentionally restricting the ability to repair their products – a strategy known as planned obsolescence. “This legislation ends what is a monopoly on the repair market by corporate actors and incentivizes competition within the industry,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, the bill’s sponsor.

CounterSpin Interview With Craig Aaron On Local Journalism

More than one in five local papers in the US have closed in just the last 15 years or so. And, yes, people are moving away from print as a form. But who is filling the void of regular, relevant, local reporting, informing people at the level at which most people engage? Activists are tired of lamenting rampant consolidation, and the exclusion of new and diverse voices in news media. They’re working around the country on projects that both demand accountability from existing institutions and envision new systems, new processes, new ways of doing journalism that more accurately reflect and support communities. We’re joined now by Craig Aaron, co-CEO with Jessica Gonzalez of the group Free Press. He joins us now by phone from Maryland. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Craig Aaron.

Amazon? There Has To Be A Better Way

This is an old problem, not a new one, but somehow, we continue to try the same things over and over again, no matter how poorly they are working.  This new problem may be Amazon since they have now grown to more than one million workers and rising globally.  In the USA, Amazon is the second largest private sector employer behind Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart is a prime example of the old problem.  The old problem, simply put, is that unions have not successfully organized a single mass employer with more than 100,000 workers in the US in the last fifty years.  Or, 50,000 workers.  Or, 30,000 workers. Think about any of the tech conglomerates.  Think about any of the massive fast-food chains from McDonalds or Starbucks on down.  

Antitrust Is Back In The United States

Chicago – President Joe Biden is signaling that his administration will get tough on monopoly. With the appointments of Columbia University law professors Timothy Wu to the White House National Economic Council and Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), he has selected two well-known proponents of breaking up the Big Tech monopolies. Moreover, these appointments come on the heels of a major antitrust reform bill that Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced in the US Senate last month. Klobuchar’s bill aims to bolster antitrust enforcement in a number of ways. It would increase funding for the FTC and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, establish new bureaucratic offices to investigate and monitor antitrust compliance and market conditions, slap new civil penalties on violators, and expose firms to liability for anticompetitive business practices that currently fall through the cracks.

‘Disintegration’ Of Political System Helps Explain Rising Censorship

Increased social media and tech censorship must be understood in the wider context of the establishment desperately seeking to hold on to what used to be called "the vital centre", a US-based author and economist tells Sputnik. Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, author, and founder of the non-profit Democracy At Work. Recent Facebook posts made by Democracy at Work were blocked from being shared via the social media platform, adding to the growing list of censorship and quasi-censorship that has become commonplace online. Professor Wolff's weekly show Economic Update is syndicated on over 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV. In a detailed interview with Sputnik, he explained why such behaviour by internet giants must be understood as part of a wider collapse of the economic system, and the attempts of those who already hold power to reaffirm and consolidate their ever weakening position.

Rooftop Solar Forms An Alternative To Monopoly Utility Models

Since rooftop solar became possible, electric utilities have struggled to incorporate it into their outdated business model. In recent years, this lag in utility recognition has become increasingly problematic, risking the health, environmental, and financial impacts of over-investment in large fossil fuel power plants. In over 30 states, monopoly utilities submit plans for new power plants to public regulators without adequately considering how customers will serve themselves. However, a new modeling approach from Vote Solar and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) might finally put distributed solar on the same footing in grid planning as the large power plants that utilities prefer. Our method, first filed in a resource plan in early 2021 for Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, showed that the utility could cost-effectively add nearly 2,000 megawatts more distributed solar than it plans to, saving customers billions of dollars.

Global South Urges Rich Countries To Lift Monopolies On Covid19 Medical Products

This landmark proposal to temporarily suspend the application and enforcement of certain intellectual property obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), or the “TRIPS waiver” is to facilitate the effective prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19. Developing countries have stressed that the “TRIPS waiver” is an essential starting point for countries to ramp up and diversify the production of therapeutics, vaccines and other medical products needed to address the global pandemic. However, a handful of countries — mostly those who have a stake in the protection of monopoly-based pharmaceutical industry — including the European Union, the United States, Japan, Switzerland, and Canada, have been blocking the waiver.

Report: America’s Monopolized Energy Sector And How We Can Fix It

A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliances shows that America’s monopoly problem is bigger than you might think.  While last year’s Big Tech hearings and House antitrust report spotlighted monopoly abuses at Amazon, Google, and other tech giants, the report from ILSR makes clear that America’s monopoly problem has spread into many other sectors of the economy — including the electricity sector. The report is the latest in a series from ILSR focused on fighting monopoly power throughout several sectors of our economy, including Banking, Broadband, Food and Farming, Pharmacy, Waste and Recycling, and Small Business. 

How Amazon Destroys The Intellectual Justifications For Capitalism

Amazon doesn't fit comfortably within the free-market fable of how capitalism is supposed to operate. We are, in theory, supposed to get freedom, competition, the reward of innovation, the elimination of all-powerful centralized bureaucracy. But consider this recent Wall Street Journal report on how Amazon destroys its competitors. Essentially, because Amazon is gigantic and has vast sums of money at its disposal, it does not need to “innovate” the same way smaller companies do. It can simply lift the innovations of others, and because it can undercut their prices, it can put them out of business. The Journal cites a number of examples.

How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism

Figuring out what we want our tech to look like is crucial if we’re going to get out of this mess. Today, we’re at a crossroads where we’re trying to figure out if we want to fix the Big Tech companies that dominate our internet or if we want to fix the internet itself by unshackling it from Big Tech’s stranglehold. We can’t do both, so we have to choose. I want us to choose wisely. Taming Big Tech is integral to fixing the internet, and for that, we need digital rights activism.

GateHouse’s Takeover of Gannett: Bad News for Journalism and the Planet

Gannett—the largest newspaper publisher in the country, as measured by total daily circulation—has merged with GateHouse Media, owned by Wes Edens’ New Fortress Investment Group, which also owns New Fortress Energy, which deals in natural gas. The merger is terrible for the usual journalistic reasons: This sort of consolidation means fewer resources for reporting, usually fewer reporters, and less informed attention to local affairs. As for the fossil fuel connection, it’s maybe not so much what it means for USA Today as for the 666 other publications involved nationwide. Like in Florida, where as New Fortress, Edens owns a liquefied natural gas export terminal, with big eyes on Puerto Rico, and as GateHouse, he owns 31 publications, including four newly acquired Gannett papers.
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