Power and Wealth
for the Oligopoly – Bread and Circuses for the Masses
SMG's 'Are We Here Yet?' Podcast
Find our complete roster of podcasts
Essays From An Artist
I recently engaged in conversation with two local neighbors, a long-standing local business owner and a former elected official who offered their opinions on my support for a ‘return’ to investments in transforming our city’s core into a walkable, bike-able, densely populated urban center.
Scotts on the Rocks Politica Podcast
Find our complete roster of podcasts
From Investopedia: An Oligopoly exists when a small number of firms collude, either explicitly or tacitly, to restrict output and/or fix prices, in order to achieve above normal market returns.
We could take some small solace in our pathetic state of affairs if the only “market” controlled by the Oligopoly were just the financial market.
But, they also control the only other market that matters – the marketplace of ideas. They control the Freedom of Speech market, and the Freedom of Information market.
With such power, they also control the Political market – our Government.
There is nothing else. They control everything.
It’s easy for the Oligarchs – the rules they make don’t apply to them. They only apply to us, the masses.
The Oligarch censors tell us that we can’t read certain stuff (“it’s not good for you”), but they (and their employees and friends) get to read all of it in order to more fully amass their World dominance over the masses (and to get richer).
Everything the Oligopoly does is for the financial bottom line. It’s not that they want to steal your freedoms – they just need to.
Everything they say or do is to get wealthier, and to stay wealthier. That is Capitalism, after all – and that is the duty they owe to their investors and owners.
But, something happened on the way to the Gulag. The Oligarchs created a monster (cyber/internet information) that threatened to eat them alive. So, the Oligarchs had to feed the monster something else – the masses. In 2021, that meant that the Oligarchs had to close down the marketplace of ideas.
Therefore, we are now beholden to the Oligopoly to tell us what we can read, what we can think.
Totalitarianism, if not here now, is not far off.
The masses can’t say what we want (Oligopoly censorship is in top gear). We can’t read what we want (Oligopoly censorship is in top gear). We can’t learn what we want (Oligopoly censorship is in top gear).
But, don’t we have a Government? What is our Government doing about this?
Giving you bread and circuses, as usual.
“Bread and circuses” are those things the Government tosses to the masses to shut them up, it’s a superficial appeasement that gives the masses just enough sustenance and distractions (a/k/a entertainment) to keep them from realizing how badly the Government is governing – so that the Government can continue being feckless and incompetent.
In fact, many leading Democrats (Warner, Blumenthal, others), at Congressional hearings, are actually asking for MORE censorship. “Nice guillotine, where do I put my neck?”
In October, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law issued a 425-page report concluding that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all possess monopoly power and are using that power to crush all competition – and how that is adversely affecting “our economy and our democracy.”
This is not just about money – it’s about life.
That Subcommittee’s disgusting conclusions sound like something out of a dystopian novel (actually, if you read The Iron Heel, by Jack London, you might think this quoted language was lifted from it): by “controlling access to markets, these giants (Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon) can pick winners and losers throughout our economy. They not only wield tremendous power, but they also abuse it by charging exorbitant fees, imposing oppressive contract terms, and extracting valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them. Second, each platform uses its gatekeeper position to maintain its market power. By controlling the infrastructure of the digital age, they have surveilled other businesses to identify potential rivals, and have ultimately bought out, copied, or cut off their competitive threats. And, finally, these firms have abused their role as intermediaries to further entrench and expand their dominance. Whether through self-preferencing, predatory pricing, or exclusionary conduct, the dominant platforms have exploited their power in order to become even more dominant.”
The Subcommittee compared them to the “oil barons and railroad tycoons” of the late 19th century (Rockefeller and Vanderbilt, Morgan, et al), and stated that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google “write one set of rules for others, while they play by another, or to engage in a form of their own private quasi regulation that is unaccountable to anyone but themselves.” That is the farmer letting the fox guard the hen house.
President Teddy Roosevelt put a stop to those robber barons of the late 1800’s. What is our Government doing? Nothing.
You hear the Big Tech Capitalist apologists saying things like, “you can’t go after them for violation of Freedom of Speech, that only applies to the Government; if you don’t like it, start up your own company.”
True, but let’s be real. If you don’t like Amazon, start your own Amazon. If you don’t like the traffic in your commute to Boston, buy a Learjet.
Nonetheless, some companies have tried to take them head on. But, as the Subcommittee found, the Oligopoly makes the rules – which means that competitors get crushed like bugs.
Recently, a company called “Parler” spent years growing a business to compete with the Oligopoly. As Glenn Greenwald (Substack) wrote, “It looked as if Parler had proven critics of Silicon Valley monopolistic power wrong. Their success showed that it was possible after all to create a new social media platform to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And they did so by doing exactly what Silicon Valley defenders long insisted should be done: if you don’t like the rules imposed by tech giants, go create your own platform with different rules.” But, Amazon, Google and Apple got together to remove Parler from the internet, exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country.
What did our Government do about it? The same thing they always do – bread and circuses.
M the Media Project founder Scott M. Graves asks, ‘What is America?’
Ep. 37 Your Town, Built Stronger
Below: SMG’s ‘Are We Here Yet?’ Podcast Season II opener: Music Industry w/ Rock Band Western Education
The Latest Essays from and Artist from contributing wirter and M the Media Project founder Scott M. Graves
The Friday Group: Building Grassroots Political Movements
Ep. 38 People Right Next Door
Scotts on the Rocks Politica is a political-centric broadcast that aims to lead through example.
Scott M. Graves is your host joined by a wide variety of guests from throughout the political spectrum and from a wide variety of disciplines.
Our intent is to provide rational and detailed discussion for listeners. We’re proving we have more in common and that we’re better together than torn asunder.
Our weekly podcast features careful examinations blendded with current events reporting from a national and local perspective.
If you appreciate local journalism with a global reach, if you want to cut through the BS and get right to the heart of the matter where it counts for your family our show was made for you.
With that in mind we’re launching an initiative we’re calling M The Media Project. This is a service of SMGraves Associates and over the months and years ahead we’re hoping to experiment with a variety of mediums, financial models and service delivery methods to deliver important news to a regional audience.
It is our hope that we will create successful media services companies, incubated right here in central Massachusetts that have the potential of becoming replicable.
Interested in advertising with us? Perhaps you want a unique way to support the economic development work we accomplish while getting access to our intelligent and informed listeners? Join our roster of supporters. Click that button below to find out more.