Monopolies limit opportunity


Art by Moy Zhong

George Frey

Capitalism runs the United States, and arguably, since WWII it has managed to at least somewhat provide for Americans; however, capitalism isn’t necessarily just an economic system. It is also a system which dictates social behavior in the corporate landscape that is the American economy.

In this environment, larger companies manage to stand out among the rest and essentially dominate in their various fields, leaving many small businesses no chance to compete against these large corporate giants.

In America, the airline industry is massive, with three main airlines standing above the rest, American, Delta and United. Over the years the so-called ‘big three’ have managed to merge and acquire other airlines, often with disastrous consequences. In April of 2001, American Airlines (AA) ‘merged’ with St. Louis based airline Trans World Airlines (TWA), promising to take in their 18,000 employees. Of that 18,000, only 3,000 stayed and even then, were furloughed by AA in 2003.

While AA is a monopoly in the airline industry, which itself hasn’t existed for that long of a time in history, monopolies and corporate takeovers are not at all a new phenomenon. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, sometimes called the ‘Progressive Era,’ the corporate environment was massively distorted due to trust, or the practice of merging two larger companies into one so they can take over other competition.

Despite reforms, however, corporations have consistently lobbied lawmakers to support them, thus increasing their influence over small businesses. The practice of some large scale monopolies, however, wasn’t to trust bust but to set up shop, and then leave an area in shambles.

The low prices of Walmart are able to attract small town locals, who often are living in poverty-stricken areas of America, such as the Deep South and Appalachia. This makes Walmart the ultimate location to buy groceries, electronics or whatever a family may need, all for a low price.

This in turn, however, causes small local businesses to become obsolete. In a 2016 Bloomberg Article, the Town n’ Country general store in Oriental, Nc., which had been in operation since 1972 lost 30 percent in profits due to the new local Walmart. The kicker, however, is that as quick as the Walmart came, it was gone, leaving Oriental behind and costing millions for the town. This, however, isn’t the first time Walmart has used this practice, as it closed over 200 stores in 2016 and shut down it’s short-lived ‘Walmart Express’ convenience store chain.
The solution to the reign of big business, would, of course, be, to vote for policies which regulate the influence of big businesses. Recently, Missourians have managed to take that step. Amendment One or the “clean Mo. amendment” was passed, which restricts corporate gift giving to political campaigns, according to Ozarks First. While this outcome is considered a victory for small business owners, there is still a long way to go until America becomes a fair marketplace. What would make an even bigger difference, however, would be to step back and examine one’s own consumerism, and understand what exactly our money is funding.

How you do you perceive monopolies influence in america? Let us know in the comments below!