What could be more dangerous and threatening to democracy than having a mere handful of companies controlling our money, our news and entertainment and our food? Yet this is exactly the situation we find ourselves in today, and there has been little to nothing said about this situation from either Presidential candidate. The reason why is obvious. Industry giants contribute and control candidates running for office. They help set the national agenda and pad the bank accounts of elected officials who do their bidding.
Some will characterize this claim as a conspiracy theory, but in this case, the facts say otherwise. Here are a few:
- The American economy, and to a large extent the global economy, is controlled by four banking behemoths: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup (joining them from abroad are BNP, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and a few other older large banks). Eighty percent of the New York Federal Reserve Bank is owned by eight families: Goldman Sachs, Rockefellers, Lehmans and Kuhn Loebs of New York, the Rothschilds of Paris and London, the Lazards of Paris, and the Israel Moses Seifs of Rome.
- Six companies own 90 percent of the media in America: Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, CBS Corporation and Viacom. In 1983 there were 50 companies in this category. A mere 232 media executives control the information and entertainment diet of 277 million Americans.
- Ten companies control almost everything we eat and drink: Nestle, Pepsico, General Mills, Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Associated British Foods, Mondelez, Mars, Unilever, Danone and Mars. From granola bars to frozen foods to your morning glass of orange juice, ten companies determine the diets of most Americans.
Although today’s situation may not conform to the strict definition of a monopoly, the result is basically the same. What makes this so undemocratic and anti-capitalist?
Competition. One of the basic tenets of capitalism is the supposed benefits of competition. If I build a good mousetrap, but you build a better one, you, and supposedly the consumer, benefit. When you have only a handful of giant corporations controlling an industry, competition and innovation are stifled and, in some cases, bought up and incorporated into the mother company. Consumer choices are artificially limited.
Workers’ rights. The less competition, the easier it is to control prices and wages. Workers are the big losers when they have so few choices of companies for which to work, and the companies are more than happy to take advantage of this situation by keeping wages and benefits as low as possible, despite making huge profits.
Market control. The media monopoly is a good example of how a small group can control an entire industry. There have been numerous examples in recent years showing clips of local and national newscasters from different networks not only airing the same stories during the same news cycle, but reading from the exact same script. News is no longer news, but corporate propaganda designed to not only sell things, but to keep the masses docile and uninformed.
It’s really a crime that this very serious situation is receiving absolutely no attention during this campaign. A few notable politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders understand the problem, but they have been excluded from the race to the White House by the Goliaths they are fighting against. When you have two candidates who benefit financially from the very companies we need to break up, there’s little hope change will come anytime soon.