Why we can’t shop our way to a better economy | Stacy Mitchell | TEDxDirigo

Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Ariana Bleau Lugo I want to begin today
by telling you something about the Boston Tea Party
that you might not know. At its core it was an
act of corporate sabotage. Those ships were owned by the
British East India Company, the most powerful
corporation of its day. The company was tightly connected
to the British government. So much so that when it stumbled and found itself teetering
on the verge of bankruptcy Parliament quickly stepped in
and passed the Tea Act. And what this did
was it created a special exemption for the British East India Company so that it could sell tea in the
colonies without paying any tax. The idea was that it could
undercut local tea merchants and take their business. So what ignited the Boston Tea Party
was not so much a tax but a corporate tax loophole. (Laughter) This story of highly
concentrated economic power married with political influence is something that sounds
very familiar to us today. Over the space of just 20 years,
a handful of big companies have taken over large
swaths of our economy. Our banking system diversified
as recently as the 1990s is now mostly controlled
by a handful of big banks. Our food system has come
to resemble an hourglass where we have millions of farmers
and millions of eaters connected by this
incredibly narrow passageway. The gatekeepers are a few big food
companies and supermarket chains. Do you know that over 40%
of the nations milk supply is now processed by a single company? Including 70% of the milk
produced here in New England? If you’re a dairy farmer
that means it’s pretty hard to get a fair price for your milk. If you’re a consumer you still
have this illusion of choice because this one company markets
under dozens of different brands. And then there’s Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart was a small player
in the grocery industry just 15 years ago. Today it captures one out of every
four dollars that Americans spend and it’s growing rapidly. In dozens of cities it already
has more than half the market. And the future of retail
looks even more concentrated. One third of everything we buy online
now comes from a single company. Many people are beginning to
question the wisdom of this and they’re changing where they shop and what they buy
and where they do their banking. But what I want to suggest to you today is that a purely consumer based
response to this problem on its own is not likely to get us
where we need to go. It can’t get us where we
need to go in part because it doesn’t fully recognize how it is
that we got here in the first place. For a long time the story of how
big companies came to control much of our economy was that
bigger is better. Right? It’s more efficient,
more productive, it outperforms. But that idea suffered
a serious blow four years ago. We all remember this. It was one
of histories most dramatic reveals. Toto pulled back that curtain and there stood
Wall Street’s wizards of finance. Insolvent, panic stricken,
their hands out. It turns out that big banks are not safer
and they’re not even more efficient. According to economists,
banks peak in efficiency when they reach the size of a small regional institution. Beyond that they become
top heavy with bureaucracy. Today’s big banks
are orders of magnitude larger. The top four each have about
2 trillion dollars in assets. And their top heaviness
may explain why we actually pay more in checking account fees
and higher interest rates on loans if you bank with a big bank rather
than a local bank or credit union. But more important,
the bigger banks become the more disconnected
they become from our communities. And the less able they are to do the most important thing
we need banks to do, which is to make
nuance judgments about risk. And in particular the risk
that a new business will fail. Local banks are actually
really good at this. Because in addition to the credit
report and the market analysis they have all this soft
information to go on. They get to know
the borrower face-to-face. And they know
the local market intimately. So they’re much better
able to make that decision. Big banks making decisions
in regional and national offices are largely flying blind. Rather than end up with a bunch
of bad loans on their books they’ve instead opted to sharply curtail small business lending. Studies show that regions where
bigger banks are more dominant have fewer small businesses
and slower job growth than other regions. And it’s not just banking. In sector after sector
if you really begin to look what you see is that consolidation
is not serving our interests very well. We know for example that
small farms produce more than twice as much food per acre as big farms
with far less environmental impact. And big box retail
once seemed like a bargain. We now know it’s costing us
far more in lost income. This model has almost single handedly eliminated large segments
of the middle class. Millions of jobs in manufacturing
and small businesses are gone and all we’ve gotten in exchange are very low wage jobs
working in these stores. Jobs that pay so little that many
rely on food stamps to get by. Or consider the case of pharmacies. It’s pretty hard to find
a locally owned pharmacy these days. Unless you happen
to live in North Dakota. Under a unique state law, virtually every pharmacy in North Dakota
is locally owned. There are no chains. And by any measure
residents are better off. There are far more pharmacies
in North Dakota than in other states. Particularly in remote rural areas. And prescription drug prices
are among the lowest in the country. So if they aren’t outperforming, and delivering better outcomes, how is it that these giant companies
have become so dominant? And the answer is that much like
the British East India Company they’ve used their market power and their political influence
to rig the game. Since 1995 we’ve given
over $275 billion to farms through the Farm Bill. Almost 80% of those dollars
went to the 10% of the largest farms. And most of the money was spent
on a handful of big commodity crops. Like corn and soybeans. These are the building
blocks of processed foods. So it’s no wonder
that a quarter pounder often costs less than a pound
of locally grown broccoli. And our state tax codes
and our federal tax code are littered with loopholes
that give big companies the ability to escape paying taxes
that small businesses have to pay. This modest office building
in Wilmington Delaware has only a handful of parking spots. But it’s home to hundreds
of big companies including Wal-Mart and CVS who are using this address as a way to escape paying
state corporate income taxes. And I hardly need to say
anything about the ways in which government has helped
big banks become even bigger. Boy!
(Sighs) I don’t know about you but I thought
TED was supposed to be inspiring. (Laughter) (Applause) You know Stanley Kubrick once
described his film “The Shining” as an optimistic movie. (Laughter) He said anything that posits
the existence of life after death is a fundamentally positive story. (Laughter) I know that I’m reaching here a bit, but I think we can take some comfort in the realization that
there is nothing inevitable about the current
structure of our economy. It’s not the product of some
kind of natural evolution. It’s the logical outcome
of a set of policies. And many people are beginning
to have a different idea about how the economy ought to operate
and to act on that idea. We’ve seen these remarkable
shifts in just the last few years. The number of farmers’ markets
has more than doubled. We’ve added over 1,400 new locally
owned neighborhood grocery stores. More than 500 new independent
bookstores have opened. Long dormant factories
in New York and San Francisco are filling up with small scale
clothing makers and beer brewers. And more than 600,000 people
have moved their accounts from big banks to local banks
and credit unions in the last year alone. Along the way we’ve
learned that there’s a lot to recommend an economy
that is rooted in community. We’ve learned that we’re
far more likely to have a conversation at the farmer’s market
than we are at a big box store. Seven times more likely
in fact according to researchers, who confirm that communities
that have a lot of locally owned businesses do in fact have
stronger social networks. And those social networks
in turn give them an edge when it comes to solving
problems and innovating. And we’ve learned that local business isn’t just
a smaller version of big business. It’s as though it’s running on
an entirely different operating system. This really came home to me
a few years ago when I was interviewing
the president of a small bank in South Minneapolis and he said, “You know when we make a mortgage loan
we’re not planning to sell it. We’re planning to keep it
on our books for 30 years. So our success and profitability depends on the well being
of our borrowers. When they do well, we do well.” He said,
“You know, foreclosure is almost as much of a disaster for us
as it is for our borrowers. And we’ve learned that
there is a lot to recommend doing business with people
who really know us.” A few years ago my brother wanted
to buy me a book for Christmas. He lives in Arizona and there was
no local bookstore where he lived. So he went to the
website of Longfellow books. My local bookstore in Portland. He found the book
and he placed the order. And he had it shipped to
South Carolina where my father lives and where I was planning
to spend the holidays. So here’s this order.
It’s coming from Arizona. It’s going to South Carolina.
It doesn’t have my name on it. Except my brother has asked
that it be gift wrapped and that the card say
“Merry Christmas, Stacy”. A few minutes later his phone rings
and the person says, “This is Stuart at Longfellow books. I want to thank you for your order. I just had a question about it. Is this book for Stacy Mitchell?” And my brother surprised says,
“Yeah, it is. She’s my sister.” And Stuart says, “Well I thought I should let you know
that she’s already read it.” (Laughter) (Applause) Here’s what worries me. (Laughter) As remarkable as these
developments are, they’re unlikely to amount
to anything than an interesting trend
on the margins of the economy if the only way that we can figure out
how to bring about the change we want to see is through
our buying decisions. I’m like a lot of people. I put a lot of my
“making the world a better place” energy into thinking about how
I can be a better consumer. You know fair trade coffee,
recycled toilet paper, I’ll get the iPad
instead of the Kindle so I won’t be locked into
buying books from Amazon. The primary and often exclusive way we think about our agency
in the world now is as consumers. But as consumers we’re very weak. We’re operating as lone individuals
making a series of small choices. And the most we can do is pick between the options that are presented to us. And it’s not that these
choices don’t matter, they do and that’s part of why
this way of thinking is so seductive. But it’s not a great strategy
for changing the world. You know, if you think about it, what we’re hoping is that some day enough of us will have enough
information about all the issues and all the choices in the marketplace and we’ll have access
to all the right alternatives. And that all or most of us will be able to make the right decisions
all or most of the time. And while we’re trying to line up
these millions of small decisions in the right direction,
we are swimming upstream against a powerful down
current of public policies that are taking our economy
in exactly the opposite direction. What we really need to do
is change the underlying structures that create the choices
in the first place. And we can’t do that through the sum of our individual
actions in the market place. We can only do that by
acting collectively as citizens. You know, throughout our
history we have been called upon at various times to arrest
control of our livelihoods and our democracy
from would-be monopolists. The British East India Company,
the trusts of the early 20th century. This is one of those moments. It’s not hard to imagine
what we would campaign for. We could begin by turning
the Farm Bill on its head. Instead of giving the most
money to the biggest farmers feeding the fast food pipeline, why not give the most money
to local farms feeding their neighbors? We should rethink how we
do planning and transportation. You know for decades we have been
just pouring public resources into creating the kinds of landscapes
that are perfect habitat for national chains. Meanwhile our village centers
and our downtowns, we’re just pulling the rug
out from under them. The places where local businesses
are most likely to succeed. You know it’s no coincidence that Vermont, which has some of the strongest
anti-sprawl legislation in the country, also has more small businesses
per capita than any other state. And it’s not hard to imagine
having a banking system that supported the real economy. Because we had that system
in place for more than half a century. From laws that were in place
from the 1930’s until the 1990’s prevented banks
from speculating on Wall Street. And they also limited their ability
to expand beyond state lines. So they had to stay focused
on their home regions. There are bills in congress
right now that would begin to reinstate some of that framework. And we should close all those
loopholes that give big businesses an advantage when paying their taxes. Just image if we took
a small amount of the savings and redirected it to
new initiatives to grow a whole new generation
of local businesses. We could take a page
from a great Pennsylvania program that in the last few years
has seeded over 100 locally owned and cooperatively owned grocery
stores in low-income neighborhoods. And I think we also need to pull
antitrust out of its 30-year hiatus. I think there is some important questions
that we really need to be asking like: Is it in our best interest
that one company controls more than
a third of e-commerce? Does my local dairy
farmer deserve to have more than one choice about
where to sell her milk? So the answers are there and
the public support is largely there. The question that I think
we have to grapple with is how do we begin to see our
trips to the farmers’ market and to the local bookstore, not as the answer but as a first step. How do we transform this remarkable consumer
trend into something more? How do we make it
a political movement? Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Seems to me that there'd be little choice about shopping in a bad economy. They wouldn't have much to spend, so they'd only buy necessities – if they had any money at all. BUT! ..when I go out, what I see is paradoxical to the popular & widely accepted notion that the economy is so poor. Shopping centers are thriving + tanning/hair/nail salons, tattoo parlors, Starbucks, gyms, theaters etc. The streets are always crowded with cars and super-sized pickups or Humvees, no matter the price of gas.

  2. I'm 40 years old, and i've been hearing of reccesion & economic woes for most of my life. I began hearing predictions of economic collapse as far back as the seventies, and yet here we are, and i'm still hearing the same 'ol crap as if it were new. I find it difficult to take this subject seriously anymore.

  3. The economy is bad, but we can shop as much as we want. The economy is about to collapse next year, in ten more years, or last year, and four decades ago. Right or wrong – economic turmoil means nothing if people can't feel it.

  4. Poverty means not having a Smartphone, home computer, car, new nikes, dvd player, flatscreen tv, a well built apartment with central heating & air, and enough food to become obese. When these things can no longer be provided by taxpayers to those who we call, "impoverished" or "low income" we will then have an economic crisis.

  5. We can't shop our way to a better economy because nothing is made here, employers don't pay squat, our money is printed at interest to a fake private bank, and the education system is corrupt.

  6. Wow this is really good.
    Thank you for posting this, and thanks to the lady who is actually well read and intelligent.
    She reminds me of how Americans use to be. lol
    With more like her, maybe we can regain Our Liberty's once again.

    CofCC dottorgg
    DavidDuke dottcom

  7. This is what #BuyLocal is all about and Stacy presents a nearly flawless presentation. Very, very well done and a must watch (several times) for anyone attempting to explain why buying local is important to consumers – not just the shops.

  8. On this side of the pond, it would seem that o
    ne of the key reasons that government policy favours large corporations in America is the high level of overlap between senior executives and political policy-making. When you have former CEOs of banks and multinationals moving into positions of political influence, it's inevitable that they will continue to propagate the worldview that fits their own experience and interests. Why is such a high level of conflict of interest tolerated in the US?

  9. JeffreyJames Halvorson: Boston University School of Public Health study in 2002 found prescription drug prices in North Dakota were 6% below the US average. More recent data in our 2009 report, "The Benefits of North Dakota's Pharmacy Ownership Law," is from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores: The Chain Pharmacy Industry Profile, reporting average drug prices 9-14% lower in ND in 2005-2007.

  10. This talk is very in keeping with the principles of Distributism. Bigger is not better; small is beautiful! Back to a society of small ownership.

  11. I was with you until there is no other pool to draw examples from. Still agree with your intent, apple definitely part of the enemy, "think different" or not. They lock you into all kinds of other control, why else would people want to root their iPhone?

  12. Tolerated in the UK as well unfortunately. I'd prefer to keep it theoretical, because it isn't about the number, but about the mere existance of anyone anywhere abusing their (questionable) authority. The revolving door between large multi-nationals and governments everyone is just the new evolution of lordship for them, and surfdom for everyone else. Thank you for fighting the power.

  13. You guys should check out this EXTRAORDINARY website called FIREPA.COM . You can make money online and start working from home today as I am!

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    Why does the roll solicit the illegal salt?
    When does the part tail the fallacious disgust?
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  14. Clinton and Reagan may be among the worst culprits. All the happy "deregulating" in the name of smooth efficiency in banking and industry. Let the experts run everything, and keep that revolving door well greased. Well, we've found out that greed is about the biggest motivation all the experts have. Those $1 million and up K Street lobbying jobs for those who play along are the pots o' gold at the end of the rainbow.

  15. RepresentUs has a campaign for blocking that revolving door once again. Long waiting periods before lobbyists can get government posts regulating the industries they've take millions of dollars from, and so on.

  16. Though I think her point was more toward supporting Amazon for books, rather than the device she's reading it on, I do agree that Apple is just as at fault for building a definitively large, impersonal, and at times very underhanded company.

  17. there is no mention of the past in usa and the rest of the world where the western europeans invaded pillaged raped the indigenous peoples who were doing everything you speak of

  18. why single out Amazon? Wasn't Microsoft already duly indicted on chargers of Anti-Trust and simply walked away laughing?  How many reading this right now are still using Microsoft (or MS co-owned Apple) computers?

  19. This has a genius to it. If we made things in America if we withdrew from all NAFTA such agreements and most of what we spent went back into our domestic economy rather then the slave markets of Asia, then this would be spot on.

  20. This reminds me of the Old Testament story of how when Jehovah finally rescued his people from Egypt and into the land of Canaan where it rained manna, and God send collect all you need just for the day, due not horde, for it will rain manna the next day and the next day all except the Sabbeth.

  21. Economic centralization followed upon political centralization in the U.S. (See, for example, Kolko's Triumph of Conservatism).  Therefore, before there can be economic decentralization, there must be political decentralization.

  22. I thoroughly enjoyed this TED Talk and I am thinking about how I can encourage small business right here in my hometown of Upper Marlboro, MD. Thank you.

  23. @  Gary Lawrence Murphy why single out Amazon. Because Jeff Besoz is a #$%^&.
    Amazon wants nothing negative published about their practices, yet they treat affiliates, sellers and store owns very unfavorably as horrible as Jeff Bezos¬†¬† is.¬† He likes to portray his¬† company as¬† paradise .¬† well it‚Äôs¬† NOT. Amazon is¬† well known for their …..
    The Main objective of [Jeff Bezos] is to destroy every single small and medium size business in  this  country,  to hurt  and  humiliate the workingman. [Jeff Bezos]    behavior has no place in a modern competitive free market Environment.
     For nearly fifteen years Amazon mission was to drive all small and medium size companies out of business, and completely dominate the marketplace.
    From Inception [Amazon / Jeff Bezos] and his minions have writing and push   for laws that would legally allow him to drive out and shut down storefront businesses.  (Mom and pop stores)
     Our legislative body and their peons have signed and pushed for every single legislative demand businesses like Amazon, and big banks have asked for.  In fact our legislative body is known to sign without reading, without thinking it over, without analyzing   the consequences, this led to the systematic damage of the mom and pop and harming the working people in this country.  They have in affect created a catastrophic anti-trust, anti competitive business environment.
     Further our legislative body has created an impossible possible environment, where small and medium size businesses are systematically destroyed in favor   of   the multi-nationals.  Instead all businesses should   be treated fairly and prosper Рso long they conduct themselves under the fair trade laws.
    Every law these corporate criminals come up with our legislators signed the dotted line.  Without reviewing, without assessing, without consideration whether these laws will benefit America, the people, or our economy.  
    They have systematically violated every-anti trust law, every consumer right law, and every anti-competitive law. While Amazon has continuously stolen from publishers, editors and authors Рare you   an author?  watch  out.
    Jeff Bezos temper tantrum epilepsy, has driven most employees   to Face book   new campus, in fact the second Mark Z opened a campus next to Amazon Seattle Office most of Amazon employees left for greener pasture.
    This detrimental business practice led millions of shoppers to start buying online because it was ‚Äúcheeeeeeaper‚ÄĚ and more convenient.
    In turn, this malevolence   and anti-competitive act led to millions of storefront to go under.  (Mom and Pop).
    ¬† And once the storefronts went under, they started to sell on Amazon platform just to survive. But unbeknown to these businesses. Amazon would will eventually suspend, shut them down ‚Äď one-by-one, there selling privileges cancelled, for fictitious, unfair, arbitrary reasons.¬†¬† Amazon¬† will penalize¬† for¬† issuing¬† to many¬† refund,¬† not¬† issung¬† refund¬† fast enough, responding¬† too late¬† over 12 hours,¬† for customer returns,¬† for¬† not returning fast¬† enough‚Ķ for¬† claims,¬† even¬† for¬† contacting¬† them¬† too often‚Ķ. Amazon odjectyive is¬† shady¬† and hidden ‚Äď certin not¬† to help sellers,¬† one sided , fovering buyers.¬† Although most buyers¬† are great¬† customers few¬† are deceptive taking advantage¬† of¬† Amazon loop hole .
    Like Wal-Mart they have the very same business tactics-¬† conquer¬† and¬† destroy.¬† But Karma¬† is a¬† bitch —¬† it¬† would¬† come¬† back¬† and¬† bite¬† you¬† up¬† the ass.¬† I¬† will never¬† again¬† buy¬† or sell on Amazon . in fact since I¬† started¬† to sell¬† on Ali Baba,¬† and some¬† on eBay I¬† wish¬† I¬† never sold¬† on Amazon.
     Amazon would  penalize sellers  for  everything and anything, just  to  justice shutting  them down. Including when sellers  accept returns from buyers,   or  fail  to respond  to  inqyuries  within six hours.
    ¬†Amazon is well known for their spy equipments and capability ‚Äď
    Now Amazon is getting into the service business like [angie's list, Uber etc…].  They are next. (Plumbers, electricians, masons, labors, dog groom, drivers hairdressers, house cleaners etc…)
    Amazon is the biggest Abuser of the H-1 Visa Program. Over 67% of Amazon programmers  and code writers are from India. (Cheap labor).
    These Indian Programmers are so poorly treated and poorly paid, they constantly seek out  pawnshops to borrow money (don’t believe visit  any pawn shop near   the campus or apartments these Indians are quartered, you’ll note  nearly 100% of the laptops for sale have Indian names affixed on them.
    Amazon turnover rate is among the highest in the Industry ‚Äď nearly 80% of American citizens linger for less than 90 days.¬† While Indians H-1 visa holders have little to no choice¬† but stay.
    Amazon is well known for their hostile and unfriendly work environment toward women, zero personal growth, Zero flexibility.
    Jeff Bezos gets his kick out of¬†¬† psychologically abusing and humiliating upper manager, for instance among the many cruelties he‚Äôll ask¬† a 40-page hand-written documents on accomplishments. Every week in addition to your responsibility. If Jeff Bezos isn‚Äôt a psychopath and a sociopath — I do not know what is.
     Jeff Bezos is know for is lack of philanthropy, zero community involvement, Zero Charity, zero connection to Amazon employees, their goals and objectives. 
    Warehouse workers in PA, Kansas, Kentucky Nevada New Hampshire
     South Carolina Tennessee TX, have it worse they suffer from  unprecedented abuse, physical  and psychological  threat,  not to mention  the heat stroke during the throbbing summer heat, and freeze their bums off in winter. Amazon can care less (read   the Allentown PA article (Google Amazon warehouse workers In PA).   The work without breaks, supervisors are on your tails like guinea etc…
    Amazon is known for their hostile work environment- warehouse worker specially those in the rust belt suffer the most physical and psychological abuse.
    Amazon has not turn in a profit for nearly 15 years for justifiable reasons- yet the stock is trading at nearly $480.
     In fact, prior to quarterly reporting Amazon is known to suspend and freeze Accounts (third party sellers, partners, and affiliates) Funds are frozen for up to 90 days. This is done to pump up Amazon statements to show shareholders   the company is doing well … but in actual fact   the company is in the red, Amazon Stock is hyper inflated.
    Amazon threaten U.P.S and FED-Ex to agree with their meager shipping deals or  else. They succumb and agree.
    Amazon Jeff Bezos threaten and harassed the FAA, D.O.T, and various government agencies to allow them to fly their drone program or else, they succumb and agree.
     The List goes on.  Jeff Bezos of Amazon is bad news  and  threat  to all.   The sooner we expose  them   the  better. Worse yet  to small and medium businesses and all white, blue and pink collars worker.
     And Uber, Airbnb, Wal-mart, are no different however  they  are  better  than Amazon.com .

  24. The hourglass of which you speak is really the issuance of money, debt-based money.  The Boston Tea Party was due to an act which forced people to use krowne currency instead of the local scrip in financial transactions.  Though your recommendation is only fractionally better than what we presently have.

  25. Unlike most sociologists complaining about the economy and social impact of the economy, she actually has some ideas.   But she needs a few more courses in economics to get more depth.

  26. great talk, but don't be naive the system has to come down before something better can replace it, isn't it strange this feels like the weimar republic period in Germany..take it from there and you can understand what is really going on.

  27. Great talk, but choosing the iPad over the Kindle so she's not locked into buying books from Amazon? Now she's locked into buying books, music, movies, and other digital content from Apple, which is even worse than Amazon in terms of human exploitation, where Chinese employees find working to make Apple products for such low pay and in crappy conditions that they commit suicide while on lunch break. Apple 'fixed' that by requiring all future Chinese employees to sign a contract with Apple stating that they would face legal problems from Apple if they committed suicide and that they must sign the contract, vowing to never commit suicide while employed making products for Apple, to be considered for employment. Content creators are also screwed by Apple. When I released my first album, if I had chosen to release it on iTunes, I would have had to pay fees to Apple, agree to a legally binding document stating that Apple would hold exclusive rights to my content with the ability to sue me if I tried to sell using any other platform, and agree to letting Apple set the price for my content and to allow Apple to keep roughly 75% of all money I earned for the privilege.

    On the other hand, you can read books purchased through Amazon on your Kindle, as well as any ebook file (epub, pdf, etc.) on any locally stored computer linked to your Kindle. Apple and Amazon are both poor choices, but at least Amazon is slightly less poor of a choice – just slightly.

    My choice? Use formats that are cross-browser compatible and are not proprietary for creating and distributing content and use free browsers, preferably open source, to read or view content you have downloaded. The money paid for content goes to content creators – win/win. Well, almost. We need a better option than PayPal, ApplePay, or Google Wallet, though Google Wallet seems to be the fairest of the three.

    Just don't pat yourself on the back for buying an iPad.

  28. Bottom line, government has to stop ruling for the big guys against the little guys. The big guys end up making the rules in Washington, and the little guys can only be found on juries, which, oh surprise, are only given 2% of cases to rule on… That means that the big guys get to decide 98% of cases. And what we all just refuse to see is that behind every ruling, every law, is the threat of prison backed up by State guns. That is how things get lopsided…

  29. Wow, this lady is a genius: "And I think. And I think. And I think." lol. Big businesses have an absolute advantage, but not a comparative advantage. I really don't care about favoring small businesses over big or vice versa.

  30. The book story is an interesting one to think about. Firstly, it's not local – the brother didn't live in the same city, and the reason it works isn't because people live near each other. It's more to do with social networks. Second, it's an example of the sister's privacy being selectively violated, to the sister's benefit. Amazon could do that, except that it would be illegal to tell her brother what books she read. The moral might be that although we want some things kept secret, there might be many things that companies keep secret for us that we'd rather they didn't. Maybe it would be handy to have a check box that reads "let others know I bought this" on the shopping cart page.

  31. I disagree with her conclusion that individual purchasing decisions won't make a difference. In fact, it is the individual purchasing decisions that have created the situation we are in right now. If we want to get rid of the giantism, we should stop patronizing the giants. But we don't.

  32. ..suppose that, for the sake of a healthy economy we inoculated against the corporate criminals by having another corporate idea to raise standards.
    (We could call it democracy, or governing or rationality or whatever is the opposite of worshipping irresponsible individualism).

  33. This still misses the crucial problem with the economy: It aims to GROW indefinitely on this finite planet, which is mathematically insane and destroys nature and other species. People like their comforts, so few will talk honestly about the end of growth. They just pass the buck to future consumer drones.

  34. Not that I don't believe her but she makes many, many claims with little data to support them. I have read researches that equally convincingly make the case that large institutions, even near monopolies like Microsoft and Amazon are far more beneficial to consumers than small mom and pop store.

  35. This is actually a PEER TO PEER CAPITALISM, NOT "SHARING". Another model that involves money. "Sharing economy" is just another way to make money and can be exploitative to their volunteers, workers and the present system. The workers have to work several jobs to make enough to survive.
    Not relying on your tax money, money from government funded charity organization and money donation from people is the real sustainable movement: unlike some of these models under "sharing economy" that rent something in exchange for your money is just another profitable form of capitalism in disguise. Do some research who they took from to start their business.

  36. She sets up the case that government is too involved with commerce where the big companies have the legal resources to profit from these rules and the small companies don't.
    Her solution is not to take away the government involvement but to move the gifts of the State from the few to the many. How does government do that better than customers in free enterprise? You could do it politically by identifying the beneficiaries of the state by name. Since picking names can be abused, the government bureaucracy makes rules, more rules on top of those already there such as some maximum dollar amount on some bookkeeping ledger. Rules which big companies can more easily afford to respond to. There’s no rule the lawyer with more options can’t get around.
    The more involvement of those who make the rules of economic activity, the more they become the customer. And that’s at the expense of the influence of those served by enterprise in open market competition. Who but the big company can most easily respond to rules? They have the most options; they can even figure out ways to look small if that’s what it takes.
    Take away the punch bowl, don't just make it so those with more options can reach it.

  37. Here is a huge problem with many mom&pop businesses… their hours of operation are horrible. I do all the maintenance on my house and do some upgrades at times. So many times I go to the smaller Ace hardware and they don't have what I want. And then they say mom&pop lumber down the street has what you want… but they aren't open on Saturday or Sunday and they close at 5pm during the week. Many of these mom&pop businesses don't want my business. Literally. They want the contractors only. So I end up going to the national chain. I hear that when you start your own company you need to work 60-80 hours a week… why doesn't that translate into hours of operation? It needs to. My personal opinion is that these mom&pop businesses in these times aren't putting the hours in and aren't working smart or hard to win customers.

    I saw a show about Sam Walton once where one of his competitors (both having only one store or around that at the time) said how Mr. Walton was constantly working and making sure everything was good for the customer. Popcorn for customers always full in the popcorn cart and greeting customers when he wasn't working on something in the store. Modern mom&pop businesses don't want to do that. Go watch an episode of Bar Rescue and other shows like that. Owners aren't around. They own one, maybe two bars and the owners aren't around to do anything and they are going out of business.

    I'm also wondering about healthcare and other benefits for mom&pop employees. Do the mom&pop businesses provide any/good healthcare through their company? I've never worked at Walmart but I'm guessing with their buying power they offer more benefits than a mom&pop. Maybe even a default life insurance policy of $25k or $50k at a Walmart? Whatever it is it is most likely better than a mom&pop. The mom&pop places I worked during high school and college never offered any benefits so I am assuming many are like that.

    And product returns… I can go into a large retail store and get store credit if my return is attempted without a receipt. I recycle a lot and so I accidentally put my paper receipts in the bin way too early (before return policy date ends) most of the time. Mom&pop stores don't always invest in the computers to be able to verify a purchase without that piece of paper they gave you.

    Also, on government contracts you need the larger companies that can have the capital to get projects going and sustain them (the projects) while the government has times when it isn't getting the money to the prime in a timely manner.

    We need both large and small companies. And small companies need to pick up their game in benefits and availability to the customer. Large companies need to get rid of the layers of positions that aren't needed. Both need to get rid of people who aren't doing their jobs well. Acting like mom&pop businesses are all great and all big business are not is only helping to push socialist agenda but not fulling thinking it out.

  38. For years consumers have declared that their priority is efficiency and cheap products, rather than things like community, quality, and a variety of options. So that's what produces have provided.
    How very true that it will be impossible to reverse this unless we have 1) smaller federal government and more emphasis on the local level 2) a change in thinking on a large scale by consumers who will organize to make their beliefs happen.

  39. Yeah, i've been thinking a lot about the progress since 1800… the steam engine, the train, cars the electricity, radio, tv, planes, the internet, the recent development of poorer countries. And I came to the obvious conclusion that the invisible hand concept is completely wrong and the humanity stagnate technologically since the past 2 century because of capitalism.

    WE MUST SAVE MY LOCAL BOOKSTORE ! from capitalism ! because surely, it couldn't be caused by the fact that book are obsolete forest destroyers… right ? it must be walmart and the governement.

  40. recycled toilet paper(min 10.30) i hope they are not making paper napkins or handkerchiefs from recycled toiletpaper

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