Monopolies are a time honored tradition in America from J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Steel to John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. But as high as these captains of industry rise they must inevitably either sink or stop taking up every dock in the port. Which is why the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was instituted one hundred and twenty-five years ago.
There IS a point when a corporation becomes too big for a free market. And not simply because it is successful but, more importantly, because the quality and innovative spirit of an industry is impeded by monopolies. But, over a century later, with some of the most extensive anti-trust laws in the world, it seems no one is enforcing some of the most basic tenants of American capitalism.
In fact, just 10 companies control most of the food you see in the grocery store. That means a very small group of people at the very top dictate our food choices, supply, variety and the very price we pay.
With Americans spending over $600 billion dollars on groceries every year, the food sector is ripe for the picking of major conglomerates and investment groups.And they are gaining control over your food supply.In fact, just 10 companies control most of the food you see in the grocery store.That means a very small group of people at the very top dictate our food choices, supply, variety and the very price we pay.More disturbingly, according to Chris Jochnick, Director of the Private Sector Department at Oxfam America most of these companies are “unaware of the social and environmental impact that they are creating or facilitating.”
Recently another food giant transformed into a food behemoth, becoming the latest edition to the pantheon of corporate food.H.G. Heinz, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has announced it will be merging with Kraft Foods.
What does the ketchup king gain from a partnership with the mac and cheese lords?Well, the newly formed company will be the third largest food and beverage company in North American controlling about $28 billion dollars in revenue.This isn't about the culinary synergy of junk food.It's about cash and market share.But, you'd think it's an epic romance of consumerism by the company's official statements.
Through a press release Warren Buffettstated “I am delighted to play a part in bringing these two winning companies and their iconic brands together. This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organizations and delivering shareholder value...”
Even the rich are being controlled by mega conglomerates. International luxury conglomerate LVMH or Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy has a portfolio that contains over 60 prestigious brands including Dom Perignon and Donna Karan. boasts an international retail network of 3,708 stores like Sephora and they even created De Beers Diamond Jewelers in a joint partnership with diamond monopoly De Beers in order to sell their gems directly to the consumer.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, right now the economy of the United States is the most concentrated it has ever been in over a century and that trend is happening all over the world. With all market power in the hands of so few can we even call it a “free market” anymore?
Watch Jesse Ventura's take in this Off The Grid episode:
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